e d i t o r i a l
When we are part of the problem.
Not everyone is aware that the figure of the conservator-restorer is not homogeneousin Europe: from country to country we find significant differences in how society seesconservation and how this profession is regulated. Education is a good example of this fact: while some countries force vital university training courses to close, othersdon’t hesitate to open as many as they can. This is a tendency that, although it is not new, it should not be ignored because it will significantly influence our profession ina few years.I recall, for example, that in northern European countries there are only few schoolsthat provide university education in conservation and the number of professionalsis controlled by
; in some particular cases, student admissions arenot even opening every year. On the other side, there are some cases of southernEuropean countries where almost every major city has a university offering conser-vation degrees. Portugal is just one of these cases and, in 3 to 5 years, there will be more than 110 graduates per year to enter the already saturated market of thislittle country. On the other hand, we may consider the case of India where heritageis so rich that their training in conservation is just not enough. A particular caseof European-Asian collaboration that addresses this concern can be read in thisnumber's article "Education of Restorers in Ladakh, India".Although attributed a great deal to the actual crisis and its implicit low investment rate in the cultural field, in many countries the market saturation is the main factorof why so many professionals are now having economic problems. This is leadingmore and more to professional instability and heritage protection can be endangered.An obvious example is the increasing difficulty of young professionals to enter themarket, to establish an enterprise or simply... to work. A way out is to extend theintern period, which is only intended to acquire some experience, into a longerperiod of many years where the professional is relegated to low salaries and lowresponsibilities.Behind these problems there are political and financial issues but perhaps we shouldalso consider that this is partially our fault, as conservators, and that we should tryto avoid it by uniting and working towards a stronger professional class. At the present moment, many international and national institutions are working towards this end,which we should be grateful to, but it is the lack of our individual efforts that is ourmain enemy. Concerning this issue, perhaps it will be enlightening to read Christabel Blackman’s article "Spain: the European lacuna".
Rui Bordalo,Executive Editor