Cultural Property Under Threat: The Cultural, Economic & Security Impact of Antiquities Theft in the Middle East

Posted by marion on May 19, 2015 at 1:27 pm : Blog


Marion Werkheiser was honored to attend a ministerial level conference in Cairo, Egypt, last week to discuss practical solutions to halting cultural racketeering– the systematic looting of antiquities by organized crime or terrorists– in the Middle East. The conference brought together representatives from 10 MENA countries, the Director General of UNESCO, the Head of the Arab League, UN agencies, and ambassadors, as well as experts in counterterrorism, terrorist financing, foreign affairs, heritage law and archaeology.  The meeting was organized and co-hosted by the Antiquities Coalition and The Middle East Institute, and was convened by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Antiquities.

Marion spoke during the Experts Roundtable on Wednesday about ways that countries in the region can work together to enhance their bargaining power to demand antiquities trade restrictions from market countries such as the United States. She also discussed strategies for building political support for the fight against cultural racketeering and shared her experience working with countries to request bilateral trade agreements pursuant to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

At the conclusion of the conference, the countries in attendance signed the Cairo Declaration, a joint agreement to stop terrorist funding and cultural destruction.

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Posted by eden on March 20, 2015 at 2:58 pm : Blog

The Senate FY16 HPF Dear Colleague letter, asking Senators to support funding for the Historic Preservation Fund proposed in the President’s budget, is currently circulating and has a deadline of Wednesday, March 25. At last check, the National Conference for Historic Preservation Officers reported that there are 5 signers – well short of last year’s total of 23.

The letter asks Senators to support the President’s $89.91 million for the Historic Preservation Fund:

  • $46.925 million for State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs)
  • $9.985 million for the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs)
  • $500,000 in grants for underrepresented populations
  • $30 million for the Civil Rights competitive grants initiative
  • $2.5 million for competitive grants for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

Here’s an image of the letter — please email us if you want a real copy!

Senate letter

Please email or call your Senators and ask them to co-sign the HPF letter. To co-sign, Senate offices should contact either Jon Cardinal in Senator Gillibrand’s (D-NY) office at 202-224-4451 or jon_cardinal@gillibrand.senate.gov, or Mike Thomas in Senator Cardin’s (D-MD) office at 202-224-4524 or Mike_Thomas@cardin.senate.gov.


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Join Us for National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week!

Posted by eden on February 19, 2015 at 11:15 am : Blog

Cultural Heritage Partners will welcome members of our client American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA) to next month’s National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week. Preservation Action and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) organize the historic preservation industry’s Advocacy Week each year, bringing over 250 preservationists to Washington, DC to promote sound federal preservation policy and programs. This year’s Advocacy Week is being held March 2-4, 2015 at The Fairfax at Embassy Row on Massachusetts Avenue NW, and we are pleased that more than a dozen ACRA members will visit Congress. Highlights include:

  • Advocacy Training, Briefings and Updates on Monday, March 2.

… including a discussion of Preservation50 – the celebration of the National Historic Preservation Act’s 50th anniversary – led by Cultural Heritage Partners!


  • Hill visits on Tuesday, March 3.


  • Congressional Reception the evening of Tuesday, March 3.


ACRA members will work with Cultural Heritage Partners and other preservation advocates to strengthen Congressional support for Historic Preservation Fund appropriations and reauthorization, educate lawmakers about the value of the historic tax credit, and grow membership of the House Historic Preservation Caucus. (One-pagers on these issues are available on NCSHPO’s website.) Online registration is open online now through March 1 and will be available at The Fairfax once events begin. (Please note: some events require tickets. See the online registration site for details.)


Hope to see you there!


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Smithsonian Institution Seeks Comment on Master Plan

Posted by eden on December 15, 2014 at 9:36 am : Blog
The Smithsonian Institution (SI) is developing a Master Plan for the South Mall Campus located on the National Mall in Washington D.C. The South Mall Campus encompasses the Smithsonian campus from the Freer Gallery of Art on the west to the Hirshhorn Gallery and Sculpture Garden on the east, between Independence Avenue and the National Mall. The purpose of the Master Plan is to improve the alignment between Smithsonian facilities and their strategic plan, increase public access and realize benefits from the efficiencies of an integrated plan. Preparing a Master Plan will allow the SI tooptimize the benefits of connections between projects and to take advantage of cost and space saving synergies among facilities. A primary goal of the Master Plan is also to improve and expand visitor services and education by providing spaces for public gatherings and programming as well as retail and food service.
An open house is scheduled for Tuesday December 16, 2014 at the Smithsonian Castle in the Commons space on the first floor from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. A brief presentation about the Master Plan will begin at 5:30 pm and will include a discussion of the purpose and need statement, proposed alternatives under consideration, and issues to be analyzed in the EA.
Comments concerning the alternatives and scope of issues to address in the Environmental Assessment (EA) will be accepted from December 16, 2014 until January 30, 2015. Please see here for more information.


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Engel and Smith Introduce Cultural Heritage Protection Bill

Posted by eden on November 20, 2014 at 7:45 pm : Blog

On November 14, Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced the “Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act” (HR 5703). Rep. Engel is the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Smith chairs the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations.

The Act would protect cultural heritage worldwide and prohibit the import of Syrian antiquities into the U.S. in an effort to slow financial support for ISIL. It proposes to create a President-appointed White House Coordinator for International Cultural Property Protection to“coordinate and promote efforts to address international cultural property protection activities” among agencies, the military, law enforcement, import restrictions, and the Cultural Antiquities Task Force, and to submit an annual report to Congress.

In his press release (see here), Rep. Engel explained, “Whether art or architecture or archived materials, cultural property plays a vital role in the heritage of peoples all around the world…. Today, ISIL and other terrorist organizations have found a lucrative source of revenue in artifacts they traffic out of areas of conflict. America must respond by denying terrorists and criminals the ability to profit from instability by looting the world of its greatest treasures.”


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UPDATE: House Committee Chairs Selected

Posted by eden on November 19, 2014 at 10:49 am : Blog

On November 18, House Republicans selected new committee chairs for the 114th Congress (no women were selected). Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) was selected to chair the important Natural Resources Committee. Accordingly, as noted above, the preservation community can expect that the Committee will continue its review of NEPA. See here for a full list of new House committee chairs.


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The Election: Effects on Preservation

Posted by eden on November 18, 2014 at 2:29 pm : Blog

The Republicans took control of the Senate and strengthened their hold on the House on November 4. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is headed for a runoff election in Louisiana, the GOP has won at least 8 Senate seats and will have 243 seats (see here) in the House. Between election losses, retirements, and other moves, the House’s Historic Preservation Caucus will lose at least 13 members (the votes in Rep. Louise Slaughter’s race in New York are still being counted).

How will the election results affect cultural heritage, historic preservation and archaeology?


Congress is scheduled to tackle several transportation issues next year, including highway and transit (the current MAP-21 extension expires on May 31, 2015), FAA and Amtrak. With this crowded agenda, we will be watching closely the revamped House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, and Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation (CST) Committee.

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), who has served as the top Democrat on the T&I Committee, lost his re-election bid after 38 years in Congress. Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and John Garamendi (D-CA) are both campaigning to replace him on the Committee. Most expect DeFazio to win; if he does, he will have to give up his Ranking Member post on the Natural Resources Committee.

We expect that “streamlining” will continue to be the trend in Transportation legislation, with additional proposals to reduce the effort required for projects to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).


House Space and Technology (SST) Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has already wreaked havoc in the science community, particularly with respect to the National Science Foundation’s funding of the social sciences, including archaeology and anthropology (see, for example, Science article here and Slate article here). Just last week he published an op-ed in The Hill arguing that social science research is not in the national interest (here). Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member of the SST, and others have pushed back, but with a Republican-dominated House and Senate, the GOP is sure to increase its efforts to control NSF grant-making, particularly outside of STEM.

The Environment and Climate Change

With many predicting the loss of archaeological and cultural sites as the oceans expand (see this interesting analysis of the problem from AIA’s Archaeology Magazine, here), how lawmakers address the problem is critical. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is likely to be made chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee. He denies the existence of global warming, calling it a hoax. Such leadership will do nothing to stem the tide of climate change and site destruction.

In Energy & Natural Resources, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will be the new Chair. She supports fossil fuels and expanded drilling, as did former Chair Landrieu. Murkowski, however, is expected to support the Keystone XL pipeline and push for construction of a proposed 17-mile road in Alaska that would pass through a federal wildlife refuge. (Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has stuck firmly by her rejection of the proposal.)

We are also watching the House Natural Resources Committee for signs that they will pursue reform of NEPA. Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) will be stepping down from his chairmanship at the end of the year, and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) is expected to become chair. Rep. Bishop is currently the chair of the subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, and in that capacity he requested a General Accounting Office report last year on the level of effort and time required for NEPA compliance on major projects. Under his leadership, we expect that the Committee will continue its review of NEPA, with a focus on whether environmental regulations are more appropriate at the state, rather than federal, level.

Bright Spots for Preservation

One bright spot from this week’s election was in New Jersey, where voters approved a constitutional amendment dedicates money from a business tax toward open space preservation. Historic preservation is an important goal of the amendment.

The National Trust also reported a victory in Hamilton County, Ohio, where residents elected to implement a one-quarter of one-percent sales tax levy to help restore Cincinnati’s Union Terminal.

*          *          *

Chances are slim for the Senate and President Obama to reach compromise on key legislation. Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) famously told the National Journal in 2010 that “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Obama joked in 2013 that he was not interested in getting a drink with McConnell – although Obama changed course last week, saying “Actually I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell.” While a few bottles of bourbon would certainly liven things up on the Hill, it’s unlikely to change the parties’ fundamental disagreements, primarily on immigration and health care. There is some talk of finding agreement on tax reform, but making significant changes in our nation’s tax code would require major compromise on both sides.

Despite their large gains, Republicans won’t have a sufficient majority in the Senate to defeat a presidential veto. While President Obama has issued only two vetoes during his 6 years in office, a Democratic Senate blocked most highly objectionable legislation before it reached his desk. Without that buffer, the preservation community needs to focus more of its efforts on the administration and the White House.



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Marion Werkheiser to Present at National Preservation Conference

Posted by marion on November 3, 2014 at 1:08 pm : Blog


Marion Werkheiser will be a presenter at the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual conference, PastForward, in Savannah, Ga., November 11-14, 2014 at Savannah International Trade & Convention Center and the Westin Hotel. More than 2,000 attendees are expected to attend, including historic preservationists, architects, city planners, developers, and public and private-sector professionals.

Marion will present on Friday, Nov. 14 at 12:00pm on Preservation50, our national celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act in 2016. Marion will be joined by her Heritas Group colleague Marti Grimminck in this 30-minute power session designed to engage preservation advocates in planning for this ground-breaking anniversary celebration.

Conference programming includes educational Learning Labs, day-long Preservation Leadership Training Intensives and Field Studies that take attendees into the community. New this year are the TrustLive presentations which will bring new voices and new ideas together to focus on the intersections between historic preservation and larger issues including sustainability, climate change, real estate, technology, and new audiences. TrustLive will be live-streamed and virtually attended by people from across the nation and around the globe.

In addition, the Preservation Studio will feature live demonstrations, engaging films and exhibits showcasing the latest products, services, resources and information in preservation. The Preservation Studio is open to the general public.

For more information on the PastForward 2014, the National Preservation Conference, visit www.PastForward2014.org.

The 2014 National Preservation Conference, PastForward, is brought to you by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in collaboration with SCAD: The Savannah College of Art and Design and in partnership with the Historic Savannah Foundation.


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Preservation Action Foundation’s 2015 Advocacy Scholars Program

Posted by eden on September 29, 2014 at 10:30 am : Blog

From Preservation Action:


Preservation Action Foundation is excited to announce its call for papers for the 2015 Advocacy Scholars Program. Are you or someone you know interested in historic preservation, planning, history, public policy, law, architecture or a related field and currently enrolled in a undergraduate or graduate program? If so, encourage them to apply to our Advocacy Scholars program, which offers a limited number of competitive scholarships to students interested in attending National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week (March 2-4, 2015) in Washington, D.C. The first year of the program was a huge success in training the next generation of preservation advocates and thanks to our many great sponsors, we are excited to announce the second year of the program. Attached is a copy of the flyer. Through the Advocacy Scholars Program, Preservation Action Foundation offers a limited number of stipends so that students can attend the National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week in Washington, DC. This year’s program will be held March 2-4, 2015 in Washington, D.C. In addition to the stipend, Advocacy Scholars receive complimentary registration to the conference and are our guests at special events including the Congressional Reception and luncheon.

To be considered, applicants submit:

1. A cover letter stating your interest, any previous legislative or advocacy experience and how participating in the program will contribute to your academic work and professional goals.

2. A 1,500 word essay on one of the following topics:

National Heritage Areas@30: In 2014 Congress considered multiple requests to designate new National Heritage Areas, even though the program faces continued financial and legislative challenges. Why is this large landscape program so compelling and what is its future? Give us your thoughts.

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 established policy to protect our nation’s cultural resources. Preservation Action was founded by advocates to make historic preservation policies a national legislative priority. How do people who value preservation continue to take a stand? How to engage the next generation of historic preservationists and advocates?

3. Proof of academic enrollment. Students should submit essays by email to education@preservationaction.org by Friday, October 31, 2014. This is a competitive juried process. Selected Advocacy Scholars will be notified no later than Monday, January 5, 2015. For more information, please see www.preservationaction.org/scholars-2015/ and the attached Call for Papers. Please feel free to share this opportunity.

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Announcing Our New Ally, The Heritas Group

Posted by marion on May 7, 2014 at 1:41 pm : Blog


Cultural Heritage Partners, PLLC is pleased to announce the launch of its strategic ally, The Heritas Group. Heritas is a global firm of big idea strategists for government, business, and social change organizations.

Through this new venture we bring together a team of thirteen proven leaders, collaborating from our Washington, DC and San Francisco headquarters and from satellite offices on five continents, to complement our work at Cultural Heritage Partners. Heritas practice areas include:

  • Global Government Affairs: Forging unlikely coalitions and strategies that break through to ensure voices are heard
  • Social Enterprise & Innovation: Crossing sectors to discover system-changing solutions to intractable challenges
  • Leadership by Design: Producing transformative leaders in unprecedented times
  • Cultural Heritage Solutions: Leveraging the strength of the world’s diverse heritage to secure a more prosperous future

Our theory is simple: we think these are the most promising pathways to advancing the work of inspiring clients, while also helping to discover and scale answers to more universal challenges.

Our Heritas team includes co-founding partners:

  • Deborah Lehr, a China expert most recently Vice Chairman of the Paulson Institute, founded by former US Secretary of the Treasury and former Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson, and previously Senior Managing Director at the New York Stock Exchange and Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China.
  • Penelope Douglas, a pioneer in community development and impact investing and chair of Mission Hub, which includes collaboration labs nationwide and Social Capital Markets (SOCAP), investors and social innovators building a market at the intersection of money and meaning.
  • Peter Herdrich, a veteran television producer for the major networks, and former CEO of the world’s largest archaeological organization, the Archaeological Institute of America.
  • Greg Werkheiser, CHP co-founder and a pioneer of leadership development movements, social entrepreneur, and legal advocate.
  • Marion Werkheiser, CHP co-founder and leader in cultural heritage law and its intersection with politics and socio-economic development.

Learn about the eight other exciting members of our team, our clients, current initiatives, and more at www.heritasgroup.com.

We’re excited about this new phase of our work. Please let us know what you think and how we might collaborate!

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