The State Administration of Cultural Heritage recently issued the “Opinions on Encouraging and Supporting Social Forces to Participate in the Protection and Utilization of Cultural Heritage Buildings”, which is the first policy document to specifically refer to the participation of various social organizations, including NGOs, in the protection and utilization of heritage buildings
The opinions include guiding ideology, working principles, as well as the methods and procedures that different sectors can use to participate in the protection and utilization of cultural relics.
Among the more than 760,000 immovable relics in China, more than 400,000 are buildings, among which county-level cultural relics protection units and low-level historic buildings that have not yet been approved as cultural relics protection units account for more than 95 percent. Such cultural relics are numerous, widely distributed, have complex property rights, and are difficult to protect and manage.
In addition, some local governments have limited funds and weak protection and management capabilities, so some cultural relics have been left untended for long periods without proper daily maintenance, putting them at risk of collapse.
In 2019, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage officially issued the “Guidelines for the Opening of Cultural Heritage Buildings”, encouraging historic buildings to be open to the public.
Based on the guidelines, the new opinions make it clear that social groups can participate in the protection and utilization of cultural relics in a variety of ways, including using charity funds or cooperating with the government in the whole process of conservation and utilization of cultural relics.
Organizations or businesses, when participating in the protection and utilization of cultural relics, can obtain management and usage rights for a certain period of time, generally no longer than 20 years.
During the period, cultural relics can be used to open public cultural places such as museums, exhibition halls, art galleries, rural bookstores, local cultural halls and special cultural activity centers, as well as tourist and leisure facilities such as homestays, inns, and tea houses, according to the opinions.