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American Express awards $1 million to 2020 World Monuments watch sites
The women’s changing room at Inari-yu Bathhouse features a traditional coffered ceiling and pleasing garden space, 2018. Photo: Yusuke Shimada.

NEW YORK, NY.- American Express and World Monuments Fund announced $1 million in funding to support preservation efforts at seven diverse cultural sites included in the 2020 World Monuments Watch.

For more than two decades, American Express has provided essential support for WMF’s work to preserve cultural heritage sites around the world against the increasing threats of climate change, natural disasters, conflicts, and neglect. This continued support from American Express, which in 1996 became the Founding Sponsor of the Watch, will help ensure that generations to come will be able to experience these places of wonder.

The seven sites selected to receive financial support are among the 25 included on the biennial Watch, which aims to raise awareness about their significance and needs for the future. The $1 million in grants from American Express will fund a variety of projects across all seven sites in 8 countries:

• Rapa Nui National Park, Easter Island, Chile;
• Inari-Yu Bathhouse, Tokyo, Japan;
• Bennerley Viaduct, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, United Kingdom;
• Central Aguirre Historic District, Puerto Rico, United States;
• Canal Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico;
• Courtyard Houses of Axerquía, Córdoba, Spain;
• Koutammakou, Benin and Togo.

Among this year’s key selection criteria was an emphasis on sustainable tourism. American Express and WMF are committed to addressing the current and future impacts of tourism on local economies, communities, and the environment by supporting projects that reinforce local and regional tourism, raise awareness of underrepresented heritage, and reduce the displacement of local communities.

For example, the project at Bennerley Viaduct aims to stimulate local tourism and draw attention to this form of industrial heritage and the role it can play in modern life. In Córdoba, Spain, workshops and discussions will be organized in coordination with local and regional planning authorities to develop viable recommendations for the future of the historic neighborhood, including sustainable tourism strategies. In Mexico City, the Canal Nacional project will develop a series of cultural programs, enhanced site interpretation, and workshops to solidify community-led management and maintenance of the historic canal contributing to a broader recognition of its significance within the city and beyond.

“As a long-time supporter of historic preservation efforts, American Express is proud to play a role in ensuring the sustainability of treasured landmarks around the world for generations to come,” said Timothy J. McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation. “The sites included in the 2020 World Monuments Watch are each critical to the social and economic identities of the communities around them.”

“This generous support from American Express could not come at a more critical time,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, CEO, World Monuments Fund. “As the current global pandemic slows travel around the world it has brought significant economic hardship to many local communities who rely on tourism, while revealing ecological and social benefits. As we begin to reopen and rebuild, it is crucial that we explore new solutions that make sustainable tourism a central priority in the future of these sites.”

The World Monuments Watch is a biennial selection of prominent cultural heritage sites that combine great historical significance with contemporary social impact. Since 1996, the program has issued a call to action for 861 sites and worked with their communities to safeguard them and raise awareness of their intrinsic value.

For more than 20 years, American Express, the Founding Sponsor of the Watch, has given $18 million to help preserve 173 World Monuments Watch sites in 67 countries. It has also partnered with leading organizations to preserve other sites in need, build awareness and engage the public in preservation efforts across the world.

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