2021 online capacity building workshops on heritage communication for World Heritage Sustainable Livelihood community leaders

In May 2021, UNESCO released the report Living Heritage in the face of Covid-19, which pointed out that the pandemic has had a huge impact on living heritage around the world. Meanwhile, human beings have shown resilience on safeguarding living heritage under the challenging COVID-19 situation. The report underpinned that human should take advantage of digital technologies to increase the visibility and understanding of living heritage.

Nowadays, the rapid development and application of digital and information technology has significantly changed people’s productivity and life styles. Notably, internet and new media are playing an increasingly important role. The number of internet users in China had hit 989 million, with the internet availability rate reaching 70.4%, in which 986 million Chinese people used mobile phones to surf the internet, according to a report on China’s internet development released in February 2021.

Another recent report on the development of new media in China, released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences pointed out that new media applications are becoming smarter and smarter, adaptable to more diverse scenarios, and are making a more profound impact on the society and people’s lives. At the same time, new media’s ability to contribute to social service has also substantially improved.

The Internet and new media have introduced new channels to disseminate living heritage, as well as new opportunities for ICH transmission. During the 2021 China Cultural and Natural Heritage Day, the total online exposure of the virtual exhibitions exceeded 1.643 billion. As of June 16, the cumulative views of the topic of #ICHbyYourSide# on social media platforms achieved 1.36 billion. Driven by the Internet and new media, traditional culture and heritage are marching into people’s lives with younger and livelier footsteps.

“Heritage So Young”, the joint initiative by UNESCO and Communication University of China, was also launched during the Heritage Day celebration this year. The initiative is a three-year communication framework of the UNESCO – China Youth Development Foundation Mercedes-Benz Star Fund “Conservation and Management of World Heritage Sites in China” Project Phase IV (2021-2024), which aims to encourage young people to participate in heritage communication.

In July 2021, two online workshops sessions were organized as part of the “Heritage So Young” activities. The sessions were facilitated by Associate Professor Yang Hong, Director of the Intangible Heritage Communication Center of Communication University of China (CUC). Instructors include senior experts, past beneficiaries, as well as students of CUC. 45 ICH bearers and community leaders (27 women, 60%) from Shilin (South China Karst); Wolong (Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries) and Fanjingshan participated in the sessions. Comparing to the workshop in the previous year, participants of this year’s workshop increased by 221%.

The two sessions took place on 19 July and 23 July respectively. Session 1 focused on short videos on living heritage. Bi Jinhua, head of MCN channel “Qi Ren Jiang Xin”, analyzed the present environment and opportunities of short videos on living heritage. He also shared practical skills of social media account operation; Jin Ling, anchorperson, shared her experience on living heritage live streaming; the junior instructor team of CUC presented on the production and marketing skills of ICH and handicrafts-related short videos.

Session 2 of the workshop zoomed in on “medium-length videos” (1-30 minutes in length) and live streaming to broaden participants’ perspectives of digital communication. Zhang Jianhua, head of MCN channel “Xun Gu” systemically introduced approaches to promote living heritage through short videos by sharing his daily practices. Mou Xiaoyan and Jin Lihui, participants and beneficiaries of last year’s workshop, brought in their experience in operating their Bilibili video account “Uncle Bamboo”. The junior instructor team from CUC then presented on the production and operation of medium-length videos on living heritage and handicrafts.

In addition to online capacity building workshops, young volunteers from CUC will undertake field missions to the pilot World Heritage sites. Through on-site twining activities and communication with living heritage bearers and community leaders, they will mobilize the power of youth to promote heritage.

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