2.11 Using special conservation areas and outdoor locations

Festivals and other events often make use of large public parks and green areas. These can contain visible evidence of cultural heritage or hidden artefacts of human activity from earlier times that are of high archaeological value and significance. If you wish to make use of such green areas and cultural heritage sites, questions regarding both the environmental effects and preservation concerns of your event may arise. As event hosts, you may be faced with having to adhere to requirements that may affect the content, carrying out, and extent of the planned event*.

Cultural heritage sites and cultural landscapes

If the area is protected under the (Norwegian) Cultural Heritage Act, you must apply for dispensation for the event. The application must be addressed to Riksantikvaren – The Directorate for Cultural Heritage, but be sent to the county municipality. If use of the area is restricted under the (Norwegian) Planning and Building Act, you must contact the municipal authorities. If dispensation is granted, requirements will be made on how the event is to be carried out.

It is normal that surveys of the area are conducted both prior to and after the event, to prevent potential misunderstandings and to check that everything will be/has been carried out according to requirements. Good collaboration with local authorities is essential for your success.

Worth noting:

Cultural heritage sites consist of the original and physical elements of the area. They represent a common heritage of the past. Conduct in such areas must be careful and respectful. Keep this in mind through all phases of planning and carrying out the event.

*Based on comments from Inger Karlberg, the Directorate for Cultural Heritage

Preparatory work

  • Contact the municipal authorities and clarify what the application must contain.
  • Apply well in advance! For events that take place in the summer, use the winter season to get through all the paper work.
  • The application must contain a short description of the event, when and how it is to be carried out, who is in charge, and how many visitors it is intended for. Use a map to mark where temporary facilities will be placed (a layout plan with all installations/facilities clearly marked and described by function, volume, space and height will prove useful).
  • State when the event is to take place and how much time will be needed for rigging prior to the event and tidying up afterwards. Also state what partners/sponsors you have and what contracts you have entered into. Consider whether the area must be closed off or not prior to the event.
  • State the reasons why you have chosen this particular location for your event. Your event will be assessed in relation to other public benefit initiatives and activities.
  • The authorities will ask to conduct a survey in order to clarify the details regarding your application.
  • Limitations might be imposed in the form of reductions in the number of allowed visitors if the authorities find that the area can not sustain the number of visitors intended according to your plan. It is the cultural heritage value that is assessed and emphasized.
  • If all the details surrounding the application are not clarified at an early stage it might slow down the case consideration process.
  • If you make any changes after the dispensation has been given then you must notify the authorities. Additional changes and yet another round of case consideration will demand more time.
  • Make sure that contracts with sub-suppliers, the landowner or others do not come into conflict with the requirements imposed by the authorities regarding the protected area.
  • As a rule, protected areas may not be used for hosting temporary campsites during the event.

During the event

You must make sure to conserve visible and concealed cultural heritage artefacts and structures during the event.

  • Ruins must be in the same condition both prior to and after the event. Requirements may be made that none shall climb or sit directly upon brickwork, stone floors, etc., or that activities shall take place at a certain distance from the ruins.
  • Other safety measures may be to put up fences around protected areas, building temporary audience tribunes or have security guards patrol particular areas.
  • Ruins are often surrounded by particular soil layers which contain traces of previous historical activities. In some areas, these «cultural layers» might be found just below the surface. They are vulnerable to surface pressure or perforation of tent pegs, and they might be damaged if heavy equipment is transported across the surface, etc.
  • Cultural layers contain everything from fragile artefacts, organic material (seeds, pollen, wooden artefacts, etc.) to intact stone remnants of buildings. At church sites, there might also be burial remnants (coffins and bones) just below the surface. Stalls, stages, tents, etc. must therefore be fastened with stone blocks and not pegs directly into the ground.
  • If weather conditions turn bad, fibre canvas ought to be placed on top of any exposed cultural layer areas to avoid damage to the ground surface.

Motorized transportation should only be used within designated areas, and only by vehicles approved for the cultural heritage area in question.

If during the rigging phase articles of cultural heritage value are found, these are the property of the state.

Complementary work/tidying up

  • As event hosts, you are responsible for ensuring that the condition of cultural monuments are the same both prior to and after the event. The easiest way of documenting this, is through pictures and video taken on the same day as the survey was conducted.
  • If the area is leased, a quick tidying-up procedure and short deadlines are desirable in order to keep rental costs down. If a large volunteer work force is needed, make sure there are enough personnel to carry out the work required!
  • Conduct a post-survey together with the authorities as soon as the area is cleared, and before the lease agreement expires.
  • If a breach of agreement is found, this will be included in the written report. A new deadline for rectification will be set, and a new survey might be necessary.
  • If parts of cultural monuments should loosen, e.g. parts of the ruins, the authorities should take care of the problem. However, if it is evident that the damage occurred during and directly because of your event, you will, as event hosts, have to pay the conservation costs.

If an event is successfully carried out, you may want to hold the event at the same location for many years to come. Applications are granted on a yearly basis or for other specified time frames. If the authorities believe the critical level of the cultural heritage monuments has been reached, they might impose limitations or «resting years». In the most severe cases, events on the premises might never be allowed again.

Worth noting:

Many of the country’s cultural heritage areas or sites are publicly available locations, and events that take place here, will limit tourist access to places are normally available to all.

Protection authorities will pay attention to how the event organiser administers the area throughout the leasing/usage period, and also to what image of it is conveyed to the guests.

Protected nature areas

The process is very similar to the above

Important principles

  • Map existing areas (e.g. an overview of protected areas and their respective preservation plans etc)
  • Use the local expertise: Determine what exactly can be done, what can’t be done, and how to do those things that can. How can we best collaborate?
  • Collaboration on formalities and rules/routines for preparing, carrying out, and wrapping up the work

Keywords: Dialogue, humility and firmness

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