Cultural Protection Fund announces latest round of overseas grants

More than £3m granted to nine projects across the Middle East and North Africa
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Eleanor Mills
The Cultural Protection Fund (CPF), which exists to safeguard heritage of international importance threatened by conflict in countries across the Middle East and North Africa, has awarded more than £3m in its newest round of grants.

The fund is managed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in partnership with the British Council.

Projects that have received funding include a £1m grant to work with local communities and the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to restore the historic centres of Al Jib, Qalandiya, Jaba’ and Kafr ’Aqab in the occupied Palestinian territories, and a £997,000 grant to restore three community museums in Western Sudan – Omdurman, El Obeid, and Nyala.

The University of Glasgow received £301,178 to document and monitor site damage to the archaeological heritage of Garmian in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. A team put together by the university will track damage using satellite and aerial imaging before recommending how the site can be best preserved. The team will also train local archaeologists and work with school teachers in the area to highlight cultural heritage in their classrooms.

Musical heritage is also being preserved via an award of £296,060 towards a project led by the organisation Action for Hope, in Lebanon. The scheme aims to preserve and promote traditional Syrian music and musical instrument-making among a population of 20,000 refugee and host communities in Lebanon and Jordan. 
The CPF has granted £100,000 to an intangible heritage project that will collect, archive and share the traditional skills and living memory of the Bedouins of Bekaa in Lebanon. 

Another £100,000 has been put towards a scheme to help plan the future of Amedi, an ancient citadel in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The grant aims to build community capacity and management frameworks for the protection of the historic town. Led by the World Monuments Fund Britain, the scheme will also document built heritage.

A project titled An Ark for Iraq has been awarded £99,246 to revitalise and document the endangered watercraft heritage of traditional boats in central and southern Iraq, and a project to document Palestinian ethnographic heritage has been granted £94,650.

The CPF has granted £50,000 to carry out a preliminary needs assessments and restoration work on 150 paintings in the Afghan national art collection. The paintings are a collection of mixed canvas and paper media predominately dating from the mid-19th to mid-20th century.

Michael Ellis, the UK minister for heritage, said: “Tragically we have seen some of the world’s greatest cultural treasures destroyed in recent years. It is important, and right, that we share our expertise and support communities around the world to help preserve art, culture and heritage of global significance.”

Stephen Stenning, the head, arts and society at the British Council, said: “Important cultural heritage – from archives of music to ancient archaeological sites – is at risk of significant degradation or simply being lost forever. British Council’s work managing the Cultural Protection Fund provides vital support to organisations on the ground working to protect and preserve heritage. This latest round of funding for innovative and ambitious projects, extends valuable and ongoing conservation work, training, and education. By employing local people, developing skills and building capacity, this work also benefits the local economy.”

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