UNESCO Picks George Town As Only Asian City To Run Heritage Pilot Projects

Only three cities in the world were selected to participate.

Cover image via Penang Happenings/Instagram @silentopia

George Town, Penang is one of only three cities chosen by Unesco to run two heritage pilot projects

It is also the only Asian city chosen, as the other two are located in Africa and Latin America.

The announcement was made on Monday, 1 October by Unesco Jakarta Cultural Unit head Moe Chiba at the official opening of the 'International Conference on Managing Urban Cultural Heritage 2018'.

Unesco Jakarta Cultural Unit head Moe Chiba.

Image via KE Ooi/Malay Mail

Chiba said George Town was selected for its "efficiency" in such projects

"We want these projects to succeed, that's why we chose George Town," she said, reported Malay Mail.

According to The Star, Chiba also said, "We cannot afford to fail, and we believe Penang can deliver."

The projects will start in 2019.

The first pilot project will bring locals onboard to create a record of intangible heritage found in George Town

According to The Star, "intangible heritage" refers to traditional customs and activities in a city. This includes businesses such as hawker food stalls or tin foil craftsmen.

"The project will approach the local community to do an inventory of the intangible cultural heritage in the city, it will be a community-led project," Chiba said.

By involving the local community in the creation of the inventory, Chiba said it allows them to "tell their own stories and focus on what the local people consider as important".

Later on, Unesco will look at ways to develop local industries in world heritage sites

This will come under the second pilot project, which aims to benefit the local livelihood of industries within the heritage zone.

"We are starting this project that seeks to bring in all these related parties, museums, creative centres, local artisans, heritage practitioners, and site managers together to develop an action plan for a better livelihood in heritage cities," Chiba explained.

She added, "What we want is some coherence between the industries within the heritage zone, because we noticed in some sites, not necessarily in George Town, where the local industries and artisans do not cooperate with the site managers."

Chiba explained that this led to instances where souvenir shops sold cheap toys and souvenirs that were unrelated to the heritage site.

Additionally, George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) plans to make the city a "centre of excellence in heritage" encompassing various disciplines

GTWHI general manager Ang Ming Chee.

Image via Sayuti Zainudin/Malay Mail

GTWHI is the organisation tasked by the Penang government to protect, promote, and preserve the heritage site.

Malay Mail reported that GTWHI general manager Ang Ming Chee said, "We need to create this centre of excellence in these disciplines where experts from other countries can come here to share and exchange expertise."

These disciplines include objects and collection conservation, living heritage, creative industry, disaster risk reduction, and cultural heritage.

GTWHI said it is already in the midst of rolling out a textile conservation programme next year.

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