A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. This is why it’s going to be one of the shorter posts in the (equally short) history of the Kraków Heritage Blog. To reach this stage, however, to be able to publish this 8-minute interview (having gathered all of the necessary content from the many congress sessions, workshops and events) has taken weeks of preparations.
I sincerely hope, therefore, you will find what you hear and see of value and interest, going much deeper than (any particular) city promotion, towards inspiration and exploring new ideas, for the benefit of the city YOU happen to love and live in.

One Man And Decades of Experience in World Heritage

This short interview with Mr. Denis Ricard, the Secretary General of the Organization of World Heritage Cities, right after its 15th World Congress in Kraków, is an attempt to share with you, not just the highlights of the Congress itself, but even more importantly, perhaps, how a long-standing tradition in cultural heritage management and preservation, including a Congress of this magnitude, geographic scale and transformative ambitions, can potentially impact the city, its inhabitants and visitors, in the long run.

In this 8-minute conversation, Denis Ricard shares his thoughts and impressions about the days spent in Kraków and the impact the city has had on the international heritage debate over the last few decades, especially since 1978, when it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

A Personal Touch or Two

With the benefit of having been professionally involved in over a hundred large international conferences and congresses, if I were to say one thing about the 15th World Congress of the Organization of the World Heritage Cities in Kraków, it would probably be this: it will forever stand out in my memory, for great many positive reasons:

– as a wonderful creative and intellectual challenge,
– as a tremendous exercise in teamwork and process optimisation,
– as the single most diverse multi-tasking project (in the events/congresses category),
– as the most interesting city-strategy initiative I have ever been privileged to feel part of.

Events Have Souls!

To tell the story of this Congress, in the way it has been told on this blog (and across the ‘Kraków Heritage’ social media), actually required staying up close at all times, i.e. experiencing (first hand!) just about every aspect of its organisation and implementation.

While it may be convenient to look at things from a bit of a distance, taking thousands of photos and recording all kinds of films in the process kept me alert and open-minded, attentive to the many details I would likely have otherwise overlooked.

Watching the audiences’ body language, the way they responded to specific ideas, workshops, presentations and other items in the agenda was a priceless point of reference and has proved key to understanding what could further be improved in the event format itself, how, and, most importantly, why. A long list of teams, institutions, partners and experts were involved in making this event happen. It’s never easy to speak in one voice when a project as complex as this is what you are after, which is one way of saying that even from my limited perspective I feel genuinely proud it actually happened and it was a success, if I am to trust the dozens of voices and opinions I heard and the countless smiles I saw.

The Ironies of a Multitasker

Many of you will surely agree that ‘strategy’ and ‘taking photos’ rarely go together, but in order to be truthful and genuine about the stories and messages you want to share wity your audiences (e.g. the past few months of this blog), actually requires experiencing (as much of it as possible) first hand and physically being at the right place at the right time, a lot of times! 🙂

Working on the creative and communications strategy for this Congress has been a fascinating experience, one that has taught me a lot about the underlying mechanics of city storytelling, its many communication platforms and processes, not to mention the great complexity of its key interdependencies… despite over 15 years of professional experience in the field of communications.

Finally, it has also profoundly changed the way I look at the city I have loved and lived in for over 25 years.

Thank you Kraków.
Thank you OWHC.