FARO. Flemish interface centre for cultural heritage

FARO. Flemish interface centre for cultural heritage (FARO. Vlaams steunpunt voor cultureel erfgoed vzw) is a not-for-profit organization that supports the sector of tangible and intangible cultural heritage in Flanders and is subsidized by the Flemish government. The Flemish Minister of Culture is responsible for the implementation of the cultural heritage policy. The functions of FARO are defined in the Cultural Heritage Decree (2008) and the interface centre is supervised by the Flemish Ministry of Culture, Youth, Sports and Media, Agency of Arts and Heritage (Agentschap Kunsten en Erfgoed van het Vlaams Ministerie Cultuur, Jeugd, Sport en Media).

The Flemish Cultural Heritage Decree of 2008 is inspired by models and visions developed in the Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Council of Europe, 2005). A ‘(cultural) heritage community’ “consists of organizations and people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage, which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations.” It is one of the main assignments of the new interface centre to develop and translate the ideas which are presented in the Faro Convention for the Flemish cultural heritage sector.

FARO is housed in building De Priem, in the heart of Brussels.

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The name ‘FARO’
The word ‘faro’ has the same meaning in several different languages (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese), namely ‘lighthouse’. It refers to Pharos, an island that used to be just off in front of the coast of Egypt where one of the Seven Wonders of the World could be found namely the lighthouse of the same name. Metaphorically speaking the name expresses several aspects of what FARO as an interface centre can mean for the cultural heritage sector in Flanders: to function as a reference point and a beacon where people, governments, organizations and institutions can rely on.

Behind the Pharos lighthouse there was Alexandria, where the temple for the muses was build: the M(o)useion (the word museum derived from this). Also to be found there was the Great (lost) Library of Alexandria (Bibliotheca Alexandrina).

The objectives of FARO
FARO’s aim is to strengthen and support the cultural heritage field in Flanders (museums, archives and libraries and several other heritage organisations), within the framework of the Cultural Heritage Decree and with the intention to realise the main objectives of the decree:

  1. to develop an integrated cultural heritage policy, namely to stimulate qualitative management, long term sustainability and the unlocking of the cultural heritage;
  2. to start up a network of cultural heritage organizations to cultivate, to represent, to acknowledge and to valorise the different ways the public participates in and experiences cultural heritage;
  3. to stimulate a further development of the different cultural heritage practices, museum, archival and library sciences, and ethnology;
  4. to create awareness with regard to cultural diversity within the cultural heritage policy.

In the Cultural Heritage Decree the mission of FARO is described as a cluster of assignments with the aim to support and develop practices and knowledge in the cultural heritage sector and to develop communication and outreach initiatives for the public, like the yearly Heritage Day (Erfgoeddag).

Every five years FARO submits a strategic plan to the Flemish Minister of Culture and the Flemish Government, who grant a subsidy. Annually FARO draws up an action plan.

FARO is interested in cultivating contacts with other institutions and organizations at home and abroad to develop (inter)national programmes, projects, networks et cetera. Exchanges are also possible.