From November 24 to November 29, Irkutsk hosted events of the Heritage Volunteer School according to a special (in-depth) program. 25 volunteers gained knowledge about the specifics of working at cultural heritage sites, the basics of organizing volunteer activities, interaction with public organizations and authorities, and also studied legislation in the field of culture.
The Heritage Volunteer School is the flagship project of the Cultural Volunteers program, aimed at preserving cultural heritage sites. The Cultural Volunteers program has been successfully implemented since 2019, its organizers are the Ministry of Culture of Russia and the Center for Cultural Strategies and Project Management (Roskultproekt).
The mission of the project is to introduce as many caring people as possible to the careful attitude to the culture of the country, to teach it to protect and turn the protection of cultural heritage into a nationwide cause. The participants of the School undergo practice-oriented training in different regions of the country, acquire the skills and competencies necessary for the preservation of cultural heritage sites. The training is conducted according to two programs: the main one – for beginners who are just trying their hand at volunteering, and a special one designed for professionals and those who already have experience of volunteering.
Classes on a special program, which are conducted by experienced restorers, consist of two parts: lectures on the topic of cultural heritage and master classes on the basics of restoration. The lecture part in Irkutsk was held on the basis of the famous Architect's House, or the Dutch House, as it is called for its unusual architecture, and practical classes were held at the College of Architecture and Construction (ITAS).
The group consisted of 25 people, all residents of Irkutsk aged from 19 to 60 years. Most of the volunteers completed the basic training program last year, the rest have serious experience in volunteer work.
Natalie Ermilova, a participant of the special program, shared her impressions: "Thanks to this project, I had the opportunity to meet like–minded people from different spheres who support their city and want to make it better. There are about 1,200 cultural heritage sites in Irkutsk and they all need attention and care."
During the 6 days of training, future curators of volunteer programs received theoretical knowledge about the peculiarities of working with cultural heritage objects, and were also able to practice various techniques used in working with cultural monuments: they learned how to make photogrammetric photography, architectural measurements, and restore wooden elements. At the end of the program, all participants tried their hand at developing their own projects for the preservation of historical objects.
"Last year we had a pool of active volunteers – graduates of the School's core program, who instantly respond to our applications. And according to the results of this year's training, we expect that our graduates will also become active organizers of volunteer programs, and then volunteer activity in the field of preservation of cultural heritage objects in our region will reach a qualitatively new level," said Ekaterina Matel, Deputy chairman of the Irkutsk regional branch of the VOD "Volunteers of Culture", project manager "School of Heritage Volunteers" in the Irkutsk region.