Home / HSSP – Heritage Stewardship Support Program

The Heritage Stewardship Support Program (HSSP) takes places between Jan. 2024 – December 2026, following up on the “Capitalization of abandoned spaces for the development of local ecotourism” edition, held between June 2022 and July 2023, funded by the Romanian American Foundation. The aim of HSSP is to create a strategic framework of support, mentorship, collaboration, and advocacy for initiatives focused on the revitalization of latent assets, primarily but not exclusively from the seven eco-destinations in Romania, supported by RAF.

Three components of HSSP will run in parallel:

I. The subprogram Open! aims to provide strategic support, mentorship, and capacity building for organizations involved in the recovery and revitalization of latent built heritage. Open! is implemented by MKBT and Synerb, between April 2024 and December 2026, targeting initiatives from 7 eco-destinations: Băile Tușnad, Eco Maramureș, Pădurea Craiului, Colinele Transilvaniei, Țara Dornelor, Țara Hațegului – Retezat, and Ținutul Zimbrului, aiming to promote ecotourism and increase civic engagement in these areas. Open! will also provide micro-grants of up to $5,000 to support organizations in testing new income-generating activities in support of initiatives.

II. Strenghtening the Latent/Emergent community through meetings and events that foster continuous learning and collaboration for organizations involved in revitalization of latent or derelict spaces. L/E began in the first edition and already gathers 50 members from across the country. The application form is always open: HERE.

III. Improving the legal and public policy framework. Together with the organizations involved in the project and with the L/E community we will support a joint advocacy approach in the field of revitalization of the latent built heritage—for legislative streamlining and the development of public policies that facilitate the work of those active in the field.

HSSP is funded by the Romanian-American Foundation (RAF) and contributes to the broader “Development of ecotourism destinations in Romania” program, developed by RAF in collaboration with the Partnership Foundation and the Romanian Ecotourism Association.

The challenges and opportunities documented in the first edition of the program have encouraged us to continue building with the HSSP program. The needs of the organizations involved in heritage reactivation are very specific and diverse, often not covered by generic funding or support programs. For example, the few public funding mechanisms often exclusively cover, or largely cover, intervention works on assets, without considering the costs of organizational capacity building or even entire categories of heritage site management (ongoing maintenance costs, informal work with local craftsmen, costs for or the possibility of reusing old materials, etc.).

Additionally, revitalization is an extremely complex and lengthy process – if all the organizational resources are used up on restoration, repairs, asset maintenance, there is little attention left for people, teams, vision, mechanisms for sustainable funding. Thus, many organizations stagnate or progress very slowly, to the detriment of revitalization, which is already a race against time. Furthermore, such processes require the mobilization of an entire support ecosystem to be sustainable and well anchored in local needs and opportunities.

We aim to respond to these needs through the HSSP program and to continue documenting in detail as many such initiatives and their challenges as possible. We need a good understanding of the field and the people who keep it alive in order to put the issue of built heritage revitalization on the public agenda and to articulate a legal framework for support.

Follow the News section to see the progress of the project.