Why CER?

Including culture in humanitarian relief actions and moving away from only supporting physiological needs is the difference between being alive, and living.

Heba Hage-Felder, former director of the Arab Image Foundation

Who we are

Protecting culture in crisis.

Cultural Emergency Response (CER) is an international NGO providing first aid to cultural heritage threatened or damaged by conflict or disaster, always doing so in direct cooperation with local actors in the affected communities. CER acts as a ‘cultural ambulance’: it provides quick and flexible financial support and expertise to assist heritage actors and communities as they assess risks and damages, implement stabilisation, and conduct early recovery measures. Emergency actions aim to prevent the loss of endangered cultural heritage, facilitate cultural continuity, and build resilience in times of crisis. CER also works with heritage communities to prepare for crises and mitigate potential risks to cultural heritage. Beyond emergency response, CER’s wider purpose is to make global heritage protection more inclusive, sustainable and locally-led, notably by training heritage experts, sharing expertise and experience, and advocating the recognition of cultural heritage rescue as a crucial aspect of humanitarian relief, recovery, development and peacebuilding. For support to culture in crisis, we welcome to apply heritage and cultural practitioners who live and work in our eligible countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe. The list of countries is predetermined by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

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Our mission is to coordinate and support locally-led protection of heritage under threat. We promote inclusivity and accessibility by developing and strengthening decentralised infrastructures for cultural emergency response. We provide fast, flexible support to fit the needs of local actors in crisis situations and invest in the capacities of our partners through dialogue, training, and sharing expertise. Our advocacy work makes the case that cultural rescue is a vital component of humanitarian relief.


We see a future in which all heritage communities can safeguard their culture in times of crisis. We want to build a strong and inclusive heritage system in a world that recognises the protection of cultural heritage as a humanitarian issue.


CER and the Prince Claus Fund

Cultural Emergency Response (CER) was established in 2003 by the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development in direct response to the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas and the looting of the Iraq museum. The Prince Claus Fund, which honours and supports artists and cultural practitioners around the world, had long recognised that supporting cultural expression should also include protecting expressions from the past. Envisioned to grow and evolve into an independent entity from the start, CER has since established itself as a leader in the culture heritage rescue field with a range of activities supplementary to its original remit as a cultural ambulance. As of July 2022, CER is operating as an independent entity. Both organisations remain close allies in championing culture as a basic need, and the Prince Claus Fund will always remain an important part of the legacy and identity of CER. For we not only share deeply rooted values, but also the belief in fighting for a world in which culture in all its diversity is valued, protected and supported.