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The Institution of Community Custodians of Heritage Sites as an Element of Historic Asset Protection System. The Case of Poland

Dominika HOŁUJ*1
* Corresponding author
1 Cracow University of Economics, College of Public Economy and Administration, Institute of Spatial Development and Urban
Studies, Cracow, POLAND

Pages: 143-156

Abstract. Developing the participative model of heritage management is today one of the most frequently addressed issues in the scholarly debates on social participation. Volunteers are the core element of this model. The article contains an analysis of the factors determining the degree of development of the participatory system in Poland, i.e. the use of volunteers as community custodians, who have a range of legally appointed duties connected with preserving heritage and its values. The paper is a contribution to the international debate on the factors that have a role in the development of participatory heritage management and the benefits of this form of heritage management. The hypothesis is that creating a fuller legal framework for community care of heritage sites could constitute a valuable supplement to the core system of heritage protection and benefit both the sites and the public services, but also, in a wider context, other projects involving volunteers. Factorial analysis facilitated the identification of the main determinants of volunteers’ actions in this area. The major factors hampering the work of volunteer participants in such projects in Poland are the lack of legal and organizational structure regulating their work, which gives rise to issues such as a lack of stable funding, failure to define long-term objectives for action and cooperation between custodians and authorities, and the insufficiency of existing legal instruments for ascertaining, monitoring, and developing custodians’ knowledge on cultural heritage. The negative impact of these factors could be mitigated by changes in regulations and modification of relations between authorities and community. The challenge for further research is to develop more precise ways of examining the impact of work done by community custodians, something which is currently impossible due to the underdevelopment of the system for reporting on their work.

K e y w o r d s:  heritage management, social participation, participative administration model, cultural heritage, community heritage custodianship, volunteers, local community, Poland