This year's theme, Donations and Endowments, has been selected to bring slightly neglected traditional heritage of donations, foundations and endowments in Serbia, as a form of giving for the benefit and wellbeing of the State and the people, to the public focus.
Benefaction in Serbia has a long and continuous tradition. Historically, and from the inception of the Serbian state towards the end of the 12th century and to the present day, foundations and endowments have played very important role in the preservation of cultural and spiritual identity of the Serbian people and they have served as clear indicators of its economic, cultural, educational and overall spiritual power. Understanding of culture as a common denominator in the processes of formulation and integration of the ethnic, state and national content was a characteristics of the Enlightenment Period. They were integral elements of the prolonged processes that led to translation of communities into the modern European states with clearly defined national identities, as seen by the bourgeois culture in the 18th and 19th centuries. By bestowing their property and making donations, the donors, founders, endowers and benefactors clearly showed that individuals were aware that culture, education and schooling were important foundation of the State and the people. By passing the Law on Endowments and Foundations, the State is today making efforts to encourage and prompt individuals to bestow to Serbia a gift for the future and thus become a part of our and of the European heritage. Continuation of the tradition of donations and endowments contributes to representation, dissemination and preservation of the national cultural values and to the development of the Serbian culture in Europe.
Central celebration of the European Heritage Days 2012 will be held on September 22 in Kraljevo, a city located in the immediate vicinity of the roots of endowment practice in Serbia. The immediate vicinity of the oldest Serbian endowments, Studenica Monastery from 1190, an endowment of Stefan Nemanja, and of the Monasteries of Gradac and Zica, prevailed in favour of Kraljevo as the venue of our central celebration event of the 2012 European Heritage Days in Serbia. During the Celebration program, the City of Kraljevo will present the long and rich tradition of endowments and foundations in this region, from the medieval monuments of exceptional spiritual, historical, architectural and artistic values, to the endowments from the late 19th and early 20th century and the latest examples of donations, the Legacy of Ms Olivera Radojkovic Colovic, a donor who shows that the tradition of noble giving continues by bequeathing her collection of paintings and her family home.