"Development of the Action Plan for the Réseau Art Nouveau Network (RANN) in the Danube Region" Round Table

Romania, organized online


The Romanian National Roundtable "Development of the Action Plan for the Réseau Art Nouveau Network (RANN) in the Danube Region" took place on the 28th of September 2022, at the initiative of The National Institute for Heritage Romania (INP/ NIH).  The online Round Table meeting fostered the contribution of over 22 participants representing both national relevant institutions and regional and local actors from areas with significant Art Nouveau heritage.

Amongst the key topics which structured the lively and lenghty meeting and debate were: the inheritance and value of the Art Nouveau heritage in the Danube Region and especially in Romania, the philosophy, objectives and relevance of the Cultural Routes Program of the Council of Europe; RANN’s structure, including the network’s current and future objectives and presence in Europe.


By bringing together representatives of relevant national, regional and local authorities and organizations involved in the protection and promotion of heritage in general and of Art Nouveau in particular, as well as potential future RANN members, the National Roundtable facilitated a series of productive discussions and important recommendations for the further improvement of RANN's position in the region, as well as for the welfare of the heritage this network protects and promotes.


Both general and region-specific recommendations from the Action Plan were explored, as well as some new and interesting ideas regarding the future of RANN and its members - all in a lively debate with contributions by most of the participants.

The highlights of the debate, with the main points discussed as well as the most relevant conclusions are summarized below:

An interesting suggestion made during the meeting was that RANN could be the one to take the first step towards different communities or cities to show what the network could offer for them, instead of the other way around. Done through conferences, fairs or other types of events, this approach could help develop the network and attract more members. In this way, RANN could increase its capacity of championing a rigorously scientific approach, to keep professionals informed and to make the general public aware of the European dimension of this heritage. For example, a higher visibility of RANN - to the general and specialized public, equally – was quoted as a way to increase the network’s relevance and appeal outside of its role in promoting the World Art Nouveau Day.
One of the main recommendations referred to the membership fee, which in most of the cases is too high for Romania’s institutions (the only member of RANN from Romania is the Municipality of Oradea, branded as an Art Nouveau city) or would not allow the constant/annual payment of the fee, which would carry to a variation / instability of the member’s community. Thus, RANN should consider the diversification of the membership fee according to the types of members.
It will be beneficial to enlarge the types of members to join RANN (now, only institutions and individual members/researchers can join RANN), for example with non-governmental organizations which develop activities dedicated to the Art Nouveau artistic movement in a specific city or region with a rich Art Nouveau heritage. In certain cases, municipalities or museums sustain NGOs which are very active in researching, protecting and disseminating the Art Nouveau heritage rather than managing their own projects in this field. Also, it could be a good idea to encourage associations/groups of different actors (institutions, private owners, NGOs) from a specific city or region to join the network.
One of the main topics discussed referred to the quality of restoration, a subject of particular interest for Romania. Thus, through RANN, knowledge transfers can be developed between projects already consolidated or at the beginning of the road to highlight the positive results in the field of conservation and restoration of cultural heritage, as well as to formulate quality control principles, as a reaction, among others, to the numerous cases of interventions with unfortunate results found during different funding programs (European or other), many with significant substance losses.
Directly related to the topic above, an interesting idea suggested was that RANN could implement the „Art Nouveau label”, in the form of recognition or a prize given to those beneficiaries activating mainly in the field of tourism, public enterprises (e.g. food industry) or other types of public spaces who carried out quality restorations of their spaces. This could lead to a cartography of specific elements (architecture programs, artistic components, arts, storytelling etc.), but especially will give locations receiving the award a competitive advantage in their field, while directly promoting contemporary quality principles in restoration.
The roundtable also brought into attention the idea of finding RANN’s touristic voice. The subject was closely connected to the idea of implementing representatives in the form of focal points, at national level in order to connect, manage, promote and monitor RANN’s activities, such as conferences, World Art Nouveau Day or other types of events. The representative could be someone from a national institution with responsibilities in the field of tourism or cultural heritage, or even from one of the established members of the network.
For improving the visibility of the Art Nouveau cultural route, it is necessary to correlate with other routes certified by the Council of Europe, as well as with those developed at the national level. This can be undertaken through direct contact with the institutions designated to manage the cultural routes in the respective country, undertaken either by RANN or by the focal point.

Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)