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New York City, May 27, 2004 . . . The World Monuments Fund (WMF) and American Express Company today announced ten endangered historic sites to receive funding through WMF’s World Monuments Watch program. Since 1996, 135 grants to 110 sites in 59 countries have been awarded $8.5 million by American Express. This year’s grants to the World Monuments Watch program total $750,000.

Sites selected for funding are: Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Expedition Hut, Antarctica; The Jesuit Guaraní Missions, Argentina/Brazil/Paraguay; Dampier Rock Art Complex, Australia;

St. John’s Anglican Church, Canada; Las Peñas, Ecuador; Tomo Port Town, Japan; Bandiagara Cultural Landscape, Mali; Roman Villa at Rabaçal, Portugal; Pazo de San Miguel das Penas, Spain; and the Church of San José, Puerto Rico, United States (see attached descriptions). All were included on the 2004 World Monuments Watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites, which is based on nominations by concerned citizens and groups around the world.

American Express is a founding sponsor of WMF’s World Monuments Watch program, established in 1995 to draw attention to and ensure the preservation of imperiled historic, artistic, and architectural sites worldwide. American Express’s ten-year, $10 million commitment to this program has enabled WMF to leverage millions of dollars of additional funding from local and national governments, global corporations, foundations, and individuals, and has encouraged new preservation activism worldwide.

WMF President Bonnie Burnham said, “The World Monuments Watch continues to be an extremely effective response to the urgent need to preserve our built heritage. Funding from founding sponsor American Express continues to be critical to the program’s success, helping to preserve for future generations sites that are testaments to human achievement. The generous American Express grants are a sterling example of enlightened philanthropy.”


Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and CEO of American Express Company, stated, “Through these cultural landmarks, we are helping to preserve cultures and communities that date back as far as 10,000 B.C. and range geographically from Antarctica to Japan. These sites and monuments are a great source of local pride, and by attracting visitors from around the world they promote a global understanding of our common history and heritage.”


World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites

Every other year, WMF invites governments and nongovernmental organizations around the world to nominate endangered cultural-heritage sites to the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites. WMF then convenes an independent panel of leaders in the fields of archaeology, architecture, art history, and historic preservation to review the hundreds of nominations and select the most compelling sites with the greatest threats.

Ranging from such widely known landmarks as the Great Wall of China to the lesser-known Erbil Citadel, in Iraq, the World Monuments Watch list reaches across the globe and touches upon virtually every historical era. Each year, American Express selects individual sites from the current list to receive grants.

Since its inception in 1995, the World Monuments Fund’s Watch program has awarded 354 grants totaling nearly $31 million to aid 177 sites in 72 countries. An estimated $64.3 million more has been leveraged directly to the sites from governments, businesses, individuals, and institutions for an estimated total of nearly $94.1 million, including the grants being announced today.


World Monuments Fund

Since 1965, the private, nonprofit World Monuments Fund, an international organization with headquarters in New York City, has been preserving and safeguarding the historic, artistic, and architectural heritage of humankind. Dedicated to preventing the loss or destruction of important cultural treasures throughout the world, WMF has affiliates in France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Through a program of advocacy, fieldwork, technical assistance, grantmaking, and educational programs, it brings public and private support together to safeguard monuments and works of art whose loss or destruction would impoverish humankind.


American Express: Founding Sponsor of the World Monuments Watch

Historic preservation has long been a priority of American Express, which, through its philanthropic program, supports initiatives to strengthen local communities and to nurture and develop tourism’s greatest assets: well-trained people, historic sites and parks, and cultural diversity. Headquartered in New York City, American Express Company (www.americanexpress.com) is a diversified worldwide travel, financial, and network services companyfounded in 1850.