The objectives of the study visit can be summarized in two main aspects:
i) Monitoring of the articulation process of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Management Plan from the participatory point of view, and analysis of the models used to communicate about heritage. The first day focused on how to communicate the goals of the Integrated Management Plan for the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Old Town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof”, as well as its contents and structure and its development through a participatory process. To explore the different ways in which World Heritage can be communicated, the participants in the study visit were taken to the World Heritage Visitor Centre, where they learnt about its specific functions and the development of the concept by a multidisciplinary team coordinated by the city authority.
ii) An attempt to connect the dynamics generated since the declaration of the site as World Heritage with the development of the cultural and creative industries in the context of a local economy with growth rates higher than the rest of the Bavarian region and Germany as a whole.
From the point of view of the challenges in Regensburg are how to capitalise on a unique historical centre recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, despite the fact that the city is already experiencing an excellent economic dynamic explained by the strong momentum of industrial production. Heritage is not an essential resource but an added opportunity. The ultimate goal is to achieve an “integrated revitalisation to balance/adapt the uses/functions of the historic urban landscape to the different stakeholder needs”.
From the second day, the visit focused on the analysis of the various projects and the possibilities attempting to connect memory, represented by the management of the historical centre, with other activities linked to innovation and related to the cultural and creative sectors. The aim, and also the main challenge, is preserving the multifunctional dimension (commerce, tourism, business activities linked to the cultural and creative sectors, residential areas and spaces dedicated to university life) of the city’s historical centre.
Local authorities have made remarkable efforts to integrate and connect all these dimensions through the establishment of an office dedicated to manage a cluster of cultural and creative industries and the creation of a management figure (position of Cluster manager for CCI) under the city’s economic promotion delegation whose specific functions include mediation and business advice. In this context, it is also worth highlighting the promotion and development of DEGGINGER, a key meeting point for the cultural and creative industries. This space, located in the historical centre, acts as a platform for industry-specific exchanges, joint presentations, trade shows, networking events, lectures and discussion forums, coaching, workshops and seminars as well as temporary studios, shops and workshops. The cooperation among the players enables exchanges, networking and experimentation with new ways of working, product and business ideas, as well as the emergence of cross-industry synergies. Industry and academia representatives are brought in through collaborations and events, facilitating market access and strengthening visibility.
The presentation given by Dr Olaf Krenz revealed many strengths (fast and steady development since the 1980s; growth rates above the regional and national average; high gross value added per capita; growth based on high tech manufacturing industries; clusters in Biotechnology, Electrical Engineering, Machine Tool, ICT, Energy-Technology, Automotive; subsidiaries of large corporations but also strong “Mittelstand”; strong presence of Start-Ups – Business Incubators and Start-Up Centres ; University and Technical College with more than 30,000 Students; good infrastructure and commercial areas in the hinterland; attractive location for new companies or business settlements) but it also pointed out some of the problems related to the creative sectors. In comparison with the rest of the German regions, there is a weaker presence of “creative services” and intensive services within the economy. In addition, the proportion of employment in the design sector is low and the design industry underperforms, with negative growth rates.
During the last day of the visit, special attention was paid to projects and players in World Heritage and CCI context. Short introductory presentations were given about single projects (Pecha Kucha style), followed by parallel discussions about the projects. Aspects worth highlighting include the enormous potential of the connection between heritage and ICT. Here, heritage is seen as input of other creative processes or economic projects. The digitalisation of heritage spaces through the use of 3D technology (Scanning the World Heritage) can become an important input for urban planning, the creation of videogames, museography or even the creation of brands linked to the city as a whole or to specific local business initiatives. Heritage space can also be considered as a context for other activities. In this sense, it was interesting to study experiences such as film screenings on city walls (Wall is a screen) or the use of the heritage context as a stage for dramatized tourist visits (Bringing a historic city to life).