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Heritage as a development tool: A program that enhances Chilean Heritage.

There are hundreds of citizen stories that describe important moments in the life of a society, memory and symbolic importance in the definition of its cultural identity. Many of them linked to local heritage places have disappeared or survive with a significant degree of abandonment.

In Chile, historically, heritage conservation was linked to the private development of urban planning, until a more comprehensive look created the first public policy of national scope that provides public funds exclusively for the development of cultural heritage. The program address challenges around heritage conservation, install sustainable management models, create alliances and joint financing from multiple public sectors.

In this post I will review the trajectory of this program, challenges, implementation and results after its more than 10 years of operation, especially collecting the innovations that the program proposed for the heritage development.

Molino Machmar project https://www.molinomachmar.cl/


The reality of heritage constructions in Chile was made visible thanks to an inventory of the Constructive Cultural Heritage carried out in 2007, which detected more than 7,000 assets of heritage interest without protection or possibility of public investment (Rojas, 2008). This, added to the international vision of heritage development at that time, encouraged the State of Chile to created the Heritage Values Program (Programa Puesta en Valor del Patrimonio, PPVP).

The main objective of this program was the protection and enhancement of heritage assets, incorporating tools that generate socioeconomic benefits, contributing to the sustainable development of the territory. In addition, within its specific objectives was to incorporate the participation of Regional Governments coordinating multiple public institutions, activate the use with cultural, social and economic activities through management models that would ensure their sustainability in the future, and promote the knowledge of the national heritage to communities.

One of the things that I find most interesting about this program is that it involved both, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, which was difficult to think in Chile in those years. In this sense, the policy established financing for various components of heritage, such as the restoration and conservation of heritage assets and areas, their environments, intangible heritage, administration and management mechanisms, projects to strengthen training and education for the main actors involved, and dissemination and promotion actions of the national heritage. (SUBDERE, Ministry of Regional Development, 2012)

Antofasgasta Regional Library https://www.bibliotecaregionalantofagasta.gob.cl/sitio/


The policy was born as a pilot program financed with a US $ 100 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (BID). The proposal was led by the Ministry of Regional Development (SUBDERE), and executed in conjunction with Regional Governments, the Architecture Department of Public Infrastructure Ministry, the National Monuments Council, Municipalities, and other non-profit entities, that have been added over time.

One of the greatest attributes of the proposal is that it sought to encourage the prioritization of Regional Governments to generate public spending on heritage projects from their Regional Development Fund (FNDR), co-financing the approved initiatives with 50% from the Presidential Fund (SUBDERE), providing greater income to the region.

Knowing the public system of Chile, which focuses on prioritizing investment initiatives that contribute to the social profitability of the country, this strategy seems absolutely interesting and effective, since it generates a political incentive by betting on projects that provide greater economic capital to the regions, in this case, based on cultural projects.

On the other hand, the incorporation of non-profit organizations, which can receive financing to carry out the prioritized proposals, makes it possible to democratize the production opportunities of these cultural actions, since in the past only large construction companies with financial backing could compete for tenders for these projects.

In my opinion, another advantage of the program's strategy has been the creation of the "Methodological Guide for the Elaboration of Cultural Heritage Management Models" (from 2010) through which administrators are directed to create the management mechanism that will be implemented in each property, in order for it to be sustainable. (Regional, Ministry of Development, 2014)

Before the Guallaitire Church Project

After the Guallaitire Church Project http://www.subdere.gov.cl/iglesia-de-guallatire


Through this policy, and its 10 years of action, the concept of Heritage in Chile is no longer an empty word. Efforts like these have made us understand that cultural heritage is a responsibility that belongs to all of us, to feed our future through our common past.

Along with generating lists of projects and studies by region, the Program has been able to promote and support interregional projects, contemplating around 600 feasible initiatives to be financed, 223 projects executed and more than 60 restoredbuildings. The total estimated cost of this policy exceeds 190 billion pesos, which represents almost 5 times the budget initially estimated by the BID loan for this component. (Regional, Ministry of Development, 2014).

Among the successful components that have resulted, I find interesting to highlight innovation factors such as the creation of sustainable management models, the regionalization of coverage, the integrality of investments with cooperation systems between the public and private sectors, citizen participation (since initiatives must be validated with the users), and the evaluation of the results, for which expected goals are made at different stages and indicators that allow their monitoring. (SUBDERE, Ministry of Regional Development, 2012)

As stated by Undersecretary Ricardo Cifuentes “PVP was the first public policy of national scope that provided funds exclusively for cultural heritage, managing to install heritage investment in all Regional Governments, validating heritage as an element that contributes to the developing".

Cultural heritage symbolizes who we are, and our duty is to preserve and promote it. Discovering what we are as a country is a unique opportunity to promote respect, conservation and affection for what we have and what represents us culturally.

Cerro Castillo School Museum https://museoescuela-cerrocastillo.cl/museo-escuela



- SUBDERE, Regional Development Department. (2012). ASSET VALUE I. In SUBDERE. Santiago: SUBDERE garment.

- Ministry of Regional Development. (2014). PUTTING IN THE VALUE OF THE HERITAGE. Santiago: SUBDERE Press.

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