It was a successful debut: On 22 July, representatives of the German ERIH sites discussed and exchanged ideas online for the first time. The subject: "surviving the crisis". More specifically, the participants focused on the current situation at individual sites and the challenges they are facing. Another central question was how ERIH as a network can support its members in this difficult time.
The discussion in each of the three workshops quickly got to the heart of the matter: Revenue shortfalls are creating high pressure on costs in the face of urgently needed investments, notably in digitisation, but also in restoration and construction measures. Sites that are highly self-funded are particularly at risk – they suffer heavily from the discontinuation of renting out premises, events and group travel, with school classes in particular. It was generally agreed that these market segments will probably recover very slowly.
In contrast, the number of individual visitors is rising quite quickly again, as stated by the participating sites. Especially outdoor activities on the premises are proving to be a popular add-on to the permanent exhibitions. At the same time, concerns about a second wave of infections are growing.
While virtual and digital attractions have proved successful in the crisis, they are still expensive. Thus, participants suggested the joint development and pooling of such offers. On the other hand, they considered the USP of real, authentic places to have the potential to win back schools in particular. Growing domestic tourism also offers an opportunity to be seized by the sites.
ERIH is an important partner for the panelists. This applies to political lobbying as well as to targeted support for domestic and cross marketing and access to national and EU digitisation funding. Reinforcing the network through initiatives such as LINKING EUROPE or the exchange of expertise programme TWINNING OF SITES also featured in the discussions. In addition, it was suggested to again involve tourism stakeholders more closely in order to learn about current trends in dealing with the crisis as well as tourism concepts for post-Corona. Finally, the question was raised as to whether ERIH needed to be more open towards the manufacturing sector in order to attract powerful partners.
In general, the online meeting was well perceived by all participants: not as a substitute for a real-world meeting, but as an appropriate addition and platform for easy exchange. The digital dialogue was moderated by ERIH board members Dr Walter Hauser – in his role as ERIH Germany Coordinator – as well as Katharina Hornscheidt and ERIH Secretary General Christiane Baum. Katharina Hornscheidt and her colleagues from the Berlin Centre for Industrial Heritage (BZI) made sure that the technical set-up worked smoothly – a big thank you for that!
PPP ERIH Activities
To conclude, there are two important events to remember:
On 7/8 October 2020 ERIH will hold its Annual Conference 2020, including a General Assembly, planned as a hybrid event with a physical conference in Oberhausen and online participation for any other interested parties.
Another ERIH Germany meeting will be following on 19-20 November 2020 with a visit to the Saxon State Exhibition BOOM. Details on programme and registration will be available soon.