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Directorate for Cultural Heritage

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The EEA Grants and Cultural heritage

Europe’s rich cultural heritage not only has great inherent value, but is also a driver of economic growth, job creation and social inclusion. 

Norwegian and Latvian vocational college students participated in the restoration of The Green Synagogue in Rezekne, Latvia. The synagogue now houses a wooden architecture heritage centre and a Jewish cultural heritage exhibition, while it continues to serve as a place of worship.
Photo: Ingierd Aas

Why cultural heritage?

There are several reasons why the majority of EEA Grants beneficiary countries choose to invest in cultural heritage.

Cultural heritage is an important resource for local and regional development. Cultural heritage projects, such as those to restore cultural heritage sites and monuments, have the potential to create jobs, boost tourism and improve conditions for trade and industry. This also creates social meeting places. These positive effects are especially beneficial for small rural communities that are threatened by depopulation and unemployment.

The majority of EEA Grant beneficiary states have large minority groups with a valuable and proud cultural heritage that is vital to safeguard. Increasing the visibility of minorities’ cultural heritage can also contribute to improving their national standing.

Large number of Norwegian partners

In the 2009-2014 programming period, Norwegian cultural heritage entities participated as bilateral partners in more than 60 projects funded by the EEA Grants in several European states: Bulgaria, the Czechi Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The projects address thematic areas such as value creation, management, training in traditional crafts, conservation, restoration and dissemination/outreach.

The Norwegian project partners represent governmental institutions, local authorities, regional authorities, museums, associations, (non-profit) organisations and educational institutions. In some countries, private-sector entities also participate as partners.

The Directorate for Cultural Heritage’s role in the EEA Grants

The Directorate for Cultural Heritage facilitates European bilateral projects through the EEA Grants . On assignment from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Directorate is assisting in cultural heritage programming in Estonia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia for the EEA Grants period 2014-2021. In the preceding 2009-2014 period, the Directorate had a similar role in programmes in Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania.

The Directorate advises Norwegian entities participating in bilateral projects and provides information about the EEA Grants to the Norwegian cultural heritage sector. In addition, the Directorate was directly involved in six projects funded by the EEA Grants in the period 2009-2014.


In the “Green Synagogue” project, Norwegian building technology students at the Sam Eyde vocational college in Arendal gained experience in traditional crafts through the restoration of a synagogue in Latvia in 2014. The project was funded by thes EEA Grants. In this video, the students give their own account of the project: