DELTA Project, 2002 - 2005
Michael Cohen and Ilan Ben-Josef
The DELTA Project was conducted from 2002 – 2005 as part of a cultural heritage program in Europe and the Mediterranean countries (‘EUROMED HERITAGE’) with the aim of creating a dialogue on culturally related matters, between people and countries. This is an offspring of the PISA Project, which, over the course of three years, dealt with integrating a large archaeological site (a cultural resource) with its’ periphery. In Israel the National Antiquities Park at Caesarea served as a case study for examining its integration in the region of Or-Akiva, Hadera, Benyamina, Pardes Hanna and the adjacent settlements of the Carmel Coast and Alona. The physical and landscape integration of the site were examined as well as aspects of infrastructure, economy, community and image (Integrated Planning).
The aim of DELTA Project is to create a model for a territorial cultural system (TCS) by which it will be possible to preserve, develop, enhance and build up the cultural resources through the integration of material and spiritual culture, infrastructure, services and manufacturing sectors by means of a dynamic and sustainable network of active linkages.
The Goals of the Project:
Cultural Heritage – all of its stages of development and periods from prehistory until post-modernism.
Community and Society – reinforcing awareness and identification, the formulation and cooperation associated with cultural assets, enhancing the self-image inwards and improving the public image outward.
Economy – maximum exploitation of the economic potential of the cultural heritage for the benefit of the regional economy, especially in the field of tourism – maximizing demand, employment and income.
A consortium of partners from Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Malta, Morocco, Algeria, the Palestine Authority and Israel participated in the DELTA Project. Each of the partners created a model in a defined planning region. In Israel the mountainous Upper Galilee region was chosen.
The anticipated results were:
1. Development of tools for integrating and strengthening the cultural heritage
2. Creation of a data bank of heritage resources
3. Outlining master plans for the preservation and development of the cultural resources in the region
4. Implementing projects for the conservation of the cultural resources and their development
5. Creating international partnerships and local operating networks with the aim of encouraging cultural tourism.
The Antiquities Authority headed the project in Israel and the main partners were: the Jewish National Fund, Government Tourism Corporation, Nature and Parks Authority, Council for the Preservation of Sites and Buildings, the Olive Council, the Galilee Development Authority, Merom HaGalil Regional Council and the Gush Halav Local Council.
As a continuation of PISA Project, the initiators of the DELTA Project wanted to go a step further and examine the integration of a number of cultural resources in their environment and evaluate their performance. They also examined methods of integrating cultural resources with each other and with the region in which they are located – something that is not obvious!
The prevailing and typical situation is one whereby cultural resources are administered in isolation: there is no coordination or cooperation among them and in most instances they are neither aware of nor do they recognize each other (even those located in the same region!). Each cultural resource or site is fighting for its own existence, for its development, target audience and status, without dealing with the other resources in the vicinity (except when competing with them). In addition, for the most part, cultural resources and sites do not maintain meaningful and mutually beneficial ties with the communities around them. Some positive exceptions to this generalization are the ‘Culture, Youth and Sport Community Centers’, religious institutions and educational institutions.
Communities are usually not significantly involved in the cultural sites in their region, apart from the shows, festivals or other events that are produced there for the residents and tourists. The project seeks active and on-going involvement in a variety of fields such as steering, debriefing, collection, surveys, documentation, planning, development, conservation, up-grading, enrichment, intensification, operation, guidance, creation, production, maintenance, inspection, public relations and marketing.
Why is the integration of cultural sites and resources in a particular region desirable? And why is it worthwhile to expand and deepen the ties and involvement of the community with these resources? The European outlook, which is based on proven and acquired experience, is that such integration:
intensifies the value of the cultural resources
significantly increases their power to draw tourists and visitors
greatly reinforces the regional economy (providing income, employment, profits and added value) through tourism, holiday making and leisure
greatly contributes to the quality of life of the communities in the region
improves the self image of the region amongst its residents
improves the region’s image as perceived by the decision makers (public and government officials, the wealthy/investors/entrepreneurs) and also the region’s power to attract people of means to move in from other areas
The first phase of DELTA Project included preparing a manual for locating, identifying, evaluating, selecting (classifying and rating), planning, conservation, reconstruction, renovation, development, upgrading and intensifying cultural resources in a concept of regional integration. The manual is actually intended for all of the countries of the Mediterranean and Europe and is meant to be used by the decision makers on the governmental, district and local levels, department heads, planners, project managers, site managers, entrepreneurs, heads of non-profit and for-profit organizations and local leaders.
In the second phase, a plan of operation was prepared for the selected region in each of the Mediterranean countries participating in the project. In Israel the mountainous Upper Galilee region was chosen since it is rich in diverse cultural resources, and because of the development potential embodied in them. In addition, several programs and projects were identified in this area that different entities have initiated, such as the Jewish National Fund, the Ministry of Tourism and the Government Corporation for Tourism, Nature and Parks Authority and Antiquities Authority, in each of which there is a combination of diverse cultural resources and a basis for cooperation and community involvement.
In a conference that was held in Gush Halav in November 2004 the plan of operation was presented which included the findings of an in-depth survey for discovering and evaluating cultural resources in the region, studying the positions and desires of the residents in the various ethnic communities and formulating an outlook toward integrated regional development.
What is the integrated development concept? DELTA defines that as creating a framework of supportive ties between the cultural resource projects themselves and between them and the communities and the other regional tiers (tourism, education, sport, agriculture, afforestation, industry, crafts, commerce, transportation, town and rural planning, ecology, nature and landscape). The supportive ties are meant to be formed on several levels and pertain to a number of aspects:
(1) The theme aspect – between cultural resources of the same kind, such as between archaeological sites, between museums, between cultural, youth and sport centers, between holistic practitioners, between architects, between authors, artists and musicians.
(2) The locality aspect – between different kinds of cultural resources in the same place/settlement, such as a museum, cultural, youth and sport center, gallery, workshop, archaeological site, ethnic restaurant, klezmer group, antiquities collector etc, everyone in Safed or everyone in Gush Halav or in Meron.
(3) The regional multi-theme aspect – between different kinds of cultural resources located in different parts of the region.
It was the aspiration of the DELTA project and the aim of the plan of operation to create as many ties as possible in the three above aspects, especially regarding the regional multi-theme aspect, so as to weave a kind of dense network of links between cultural resources and sites throughout the region. This network is meant to be dynamic and elastic, bustling with a broad variety of cooperation between the ‘players’ as the European Union refers to the culture operators. These are the site and resource directors and the culture-bearers (the artists, farmers, healers, craftsmen, architects, designers, producers, impresarios, collectors, teachers, guides, cooks, inventors etc).
The DELTA Project’s plan of operation formulated dozens of practical activities that express the dynamic and anticipated ties between resources, sites and the culture-bearers in the Galilee and whose implementation will actually create an integrated regional cultural system that will intensify, support, preserve, stabilize and strengthen the cultural resources for the benefit of the region and its communities. The goal of course is to create a lasting system so that it will survive as long as the authorities, community and especially the local culture ‘players’ will breath life into it by being involved, committed, cooperative, harmonious and of a mutual spirit.
In the DELTA planning region, high up in the Galilee, hundreds of cultural resources, themes and sites were located and evaluated, and a plan of operation was formulated for implementing and providing an incentive for all-around communication and cooperation, both between competitors and those that complement each other, as well as those that are ‘foreign’ to each other. DELTA Project included a budget for planning and formulating the idea only; whereas the challenge to implement the plan in the coming years is that of everyone, i.e. the authorities, the communities and the local leadership. It is very important to stress that not everything is dependant upon a budget.
Within this framework a study and analysis of a region and theme were conducted on a limited scale. From their results we will be able to formulate ideas and better adapt them to the field. Two test cases were selected.
1. The Birya Creek basin, the Turquoise Valley, Qadita, Upper Amud Creek, Meron and Gush Halav.
2. The Olive Festival.
The study and analysis activity included surveys in the heart of Gush Halav and Hurfesh, a survey and documentation of the flour mills in Gush Halav Creek and Amud Creek, (including documentation, a conservation survey and preliminary plans for development), planning an observation tower in the fortress at Birya, a survey of the cultural/agricultural landscape in the Qadita region, a survey and documentation of the Rashbi compound at Meron and finally significant public involvement in two conferences (the Olive Pilot in Peqi’in and the Birya Pilot in Birya historic stronghold) where representatives of the communities from the region participated, as well as tourist site operators and ‘local culture-bearers’.
The Continuation of the Activity in the Future
In the last community meeting, a steering committee made up of volunteers was selected that will convene in the historic site of Birya and initiate additional community conferences and other activities in the future. It is thus hoped that the idea of the DELTA Project, namely building an integrated regional cultural system, even though the project has ended, will continue and will be established and operate over the long term for the benefit of the entire region.
We are hopeful that the cooperation formed amongst the entities, institutions and communities during the project will strengthen and expand and thereby continue to preserve, develop and intensify the cultural resources in the region and realize the full potential embodied in them.
The Partner Entities and Officials in the Country
Yaacov Schaffer, Eng. – Conservation Department Director, Antiquities Authority.
Project Coordinators: Yael Alef (2002-2003) and Michael Cohen (2003-2005) – Conservation Department, Antiquities Authority.
Israel Antiquities Authority, Jewish National Fund, National Parks Authority, Government Tourism Corporation, Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites, Galilee Development Authority, The Olive Council, Gush Halav Local Council.
Ilan Ben-Yosef – tourism planner (expert); Raziya Zehavi and Eliezer Bergman (National Parks Authority), Tzvika Ayalon and Hannah Yaffe (Jewish National Fund); Omri Shalmon and Vered Salomon-Maman (Council for the Preservation of Building and Sites); David Mingelgreen (Government Tourism Company); Benny Sarig (Galilee Development Authority); Tali Omer, Amin Salman (The Olive Council); Mazal Alkalay (Merom HaGalil Regional Council); Henry Alam (Gush Halav Local Council); Amir Freundlich [arch.], Ya’ara Shaltiel [arch.], Lilach Struel [arch.], Shahar Puni [arch.], Faina Milstein [arch.] (Conservation Department, Antiquities Authority).