“This spotlight will allow Picardy pride to be reconquered”

The capital of Picardy submitted, Monday, January 2, its application to become the European Capital of Culture. A real challenge to restore its image and shine at the international level.

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The race is for French cities competing for the title of European Capital of Culture 2028. The Ministry of Culture published the call for applications at the end of December 2021. Amiens, Bourges, Roubaix, Saint-Denis, Reims, Montpellier , Nice, Rouen, Bastia, Clermont-Ferrand… Already mobilized for several months, competing in two cities in the Czech Republic.

Obtaining the label “European Capital of Culture” has become “a must have“, an important asset for the competitiveness and attractiveness of regional economies. In the regions and cities of the European Union, both inhabitants and visitors value culture more. spotlight on the cultural programming of the capital .

A real tourist springboard that the city of Amiens plans to jump in 2028.We have been in a hurry for 18 months. This is very short, especially when you know that other candidate cities like Clermont-Ferrand have been working on the file for longer. We designed a small team of three people to work on the project. It is not much, but it is a dynamic, voluntary and young group, in line with current events and event culture and which comes from the European Youth Capital”announced Sébastien Auchart, director of culture and heritage of Amiens Métropole.

We can turn the situation around to become an attractive region.

Sebastien Auchart

Director of Culture and Heritage of Amiens Métropole

For this small team, the stakes are high. It represents a hope for the conversion of an entire territory and above all a change of perspective from within and without. “I expect real change at the human level if we succeed in this challenge. Picard has a lack of pride and possessiveness. We have a territory that has been martyred by wars, its productive tools have been defeated. When we talk about Picardy, we think of health, economy, education…. Losing speed. We don’t get good press and yet we are an architectural and historical cradle. We can turn the situation around to become an attractive region. This spotlight will allow the recapture of Picardy pride”insisted Sébastien Auchart.

To hope to get this label, it is necessary to stand out from the other candidates, to propose a file that reflects a cultural and heritage dynamism, with a strong European dimension.

The candidacy of Amiens is based on the concept Alternative throughout the valley of the Somme, from Saint-Quentin to the Bay of Somme. “These are 16 projects dedicated to diversity (Alter) and a culture and heritage revisited in the birth of a territory (Indigenous). We built these projects around the river with a celebration on the banks, on the towpath and in the water. In particular, we offer live shows thanks to circus arts, dance, etc.“To work on these projects, the communities of the municipalities of the Somme valley were called.

We can bring education and training back to the fore and allow ourselves to rely.

Sébastien Auchart, Director of Culture and Heritage of Amiens Métropole.

Another idea, more focused on cultural education, suggests networking territorial museums to design events. “Our territory is marked by prehistory, Gothic architecture and post-war reconstructions. We want to highlight this heritage in a sustainable way. We can bring education and training back to the fore and allow ourselves to rely. We have a good card to play”said Sébastien Auchart.

The label “European Capital of Culture” has become a benchmark, a starting point for global economic development and tourism. A host city designated by the European Union organizes cultural events throughout the year. The idea of ​​honoring a city was put forward in 1985 by the actress, who became the Greek Minister of Culture, Mélina Mercouri and her French counterpart, Jack Lang, to bring Europeans closer together by emphasizing the richness and diversity of continent cultures. Athens was the first designated city. Then, Florence, Amsterdam, West Berlin and Paris in 1989, follow the list of named cities. Closer to Picardy, Lille won the title in 2004.

According to the head of the culture department of the town hall of Lille, this appointment has had an impact on the strengthening of the city and the entire region. “Lille’s candidacy has seen a great mobilization of all territorial actors. We witnessed a great popular enthusiasm accompanied by celebrations and demonstrations. Beyond the event, it was a land development operation in which we participated. For example, we brought back the industrial wasteland, the madhouses, for events in 2004. 20 years later, they are still places of local culture. In total, we have rehabilitated 12 places in the region“, explains Marie-Pierre Bresson, deputy mayor of Lille, delegate for culture.

We have gained fame as an active city.

Marie-Pierre Bresson

Deputy mayor of Lille, delegate for culture.

The label “European Capital of Culture” has permanently transformed the city, its region and enhanced its local economic fabric. With nine million visitors recorded during the label period, the city benefited from a boost in tourism. “We have earned a reputation as an active city because we have continued cultural actions and the hotel, catering and tourism sectors have benefited from this.“, added the deputy mayor. Since then, the metropolis has organized cultural seasons every three years for several months. The last edition, Utopia, in 2022, welcomed more than 1.8 million visitors to between May and October and allowed a new spotlight on the territory.

To support the setting up of events in the city of the European Capital of Culture, Europe provides a financial contribution, but most of the investments come from the metropolis, the region, the State and private sponsorship. Private companies that need to be canvassed. In 2004, Lille obtained 13 million euros from economic partners for a total activity budget of 73 million.

Amiens planned a budget of 120 million euros, of which 45% from the city and metropolitan area and the other half from the State, Region, Department and sponsorship.

The next important deadline in the nomination of the next European Capital of Culture 2028 will take place on the 28th of February with the preliminary selection, by the European jury, of three or four finalist cities out of the nine in the running. Then, city selection will follow in December 2023.

Meanwhile, the metropolis of Amiens was lobbying the inhabitants and representatives of Europe. On January 13, an evening was organized at the Maison de la culture to present the project. Then on January 25, the small group of Amiens will defend its candidacy for the European Parliament.

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