Save your heritage! Community Involvement in Heritage Management – a guidebook.


The involvement of communities has become an important approach in preservation, management and promotion of urban heritage. Based on the OWHC Regional Conference “Heritage and Community Involvement” in 2016 and practice examples from OWHC cities and Culture for Cities and Regions, this guidebook presents an introduction to Community Involvement in Heritage Management, demonstrating areas of practice and theoretical backgrounds. Among other a new tool in heritage management evaluation, the Communication Model for Built heritage assets (COBA), is presented.


Local cultural and heritage institutions are increasingly geared towards a participatory culture - including co-creation - in order to provide content that fits the audiences’ needs and includes them in the management and protection of their heritage. New approaches intend to involve local communities in the protection and preservation of urban heritage, increasing their responsibilities and feeling of ownership. Community involvement can be a driver for change. Cities play an important role in encouraging cultural organisations and communities to collaborate, share resources, group together and explore innovative forms of partnerships. Experiences from cities reveal that it is not just important to ask locals for their ideas, but to shape programmes with them and involve them directly. Co-creation can be an important part of this, as citizens today are demanding more direct participation. Cities’ cultural administrations can facilitate this process by acting as brokers to make local cultural organisations and different audience groups meet and discuss how to work together. 

The guidebook presents interesting practices of community involvement in:

  • Promotion & valorisation of Urban Heritage, including examples from Antwerp (Red Star Line Museum) and Helsinki (Albumit Auki)

  • Supporting owners in safeguarding their Urban Heritage, including example from Porto (Bank of Materials)

  • Use of Urban Heritage for community and cultural development, including examples from Riga (Ziemeļblāzma Culture Palace) and Dortmund (Unionviertel Creative Quarter)

  • Participative development of actions, management plans, guidelines, policies for Urban Heritage

Local cultural heritage represents a vital aspect of urban life, and it is the cities’ role to make sure that it remains attractive to diverse audiences. Cultural heritage is a powerful tool that contributes to building cities’ identities and increasing their attractiveness, and, when well-managed, heritage sites can drive economic activities and become hubs for creativity, culture, community interaction and social integration.