Saint-Denis dreams of becoming the European Capital of Culture 2028 – Seine-Saint-Denis

“City of Saint-Denis incomparable, Saint-Denis is my capital”, criticized the Grand Corps Malade in 2006. The capital, the city of Paul Eluard and the Supreme NTM, the Basilica and the Stade de France are wants to be in 2028, it is applying for the status of European Capital of Culture.

Awarded by the European Union, this label makes it possible to develop a cultural program for a whole year and to increase the influence of a city. Lille in 2004 or Marseille in 2013 benefited greatly.

This time, Saint-Denis, and with it all of Seine-Saint-Denis because the Department is a partner in the project, will have to compete with Nice, Rouen or Montpellier, France only ensuring that it is a city in France. .

Bringing the periphery back to the center

To stand out from its competitors, Périféeries 2028 – the name of the Dionysian project – chose to turn its status as a suburban city into an asset. “Bringing the peripheries back to the center”, this is the number one objective of his file, which was officially submitted this Friday, December 16 to the Ministry of Culture by two elementary school classes from La Courneuve and Saint-Denis.

“We want to put our suburbs back in the middle of big cities, to reevaluate the way we have to do the city. Our suburbs, with their stories and their creativity, must help build the Europe of tomorrow”asserted Mathieu Hanotin, the mayor of Saint-Denis, during the press conference before the filing of the file, held at the Niemeyer building.

This building, currently empty and the former headquarters of the newspaper L’Humanité, also offers an unobstructed view of the Basilica of Saint-Denis, whose re-assembly of the famous spire is shown by the Dionysian aedile as a “candidate totem”. Conceived at least 6 times since its deconstruction by the architect Viollet-Leduc in 1847, its reconstruction has been completed and should begin in January 2024.

“On the Offensive”

“At a time when the suburbs continue to be chosen by the advocates of a fixed French identity, we must also be offensive, showing the face of a mixed, plural France, which wants to be together. »explained for his part the president of the Department Stéphane Troussel, seen in the reactions of the fachosphere recently provoked by the candidacy of Saint-Denis “another reason to apply”. Another emergence of a new cultural area: next spring the Villa Dionysos, rue de la République, will open, designed to showcase in particular the contemporary art collection of the Department.

Jamel Debbouze and Alain Ducasse, ambassadors

Officially launched in September 2022, the Dionysian dossier will have the support of a large number of supporters, known or anonymous, in a short time. “Symbolically, it would be very powerful for a large suburban town like Saint-Denis to deserve this status as capital”estimated by choreographer Philippe Decouflé, particularly known for his opening ceremony of the Albertville Games 1992 and placed in the City of Kings since 1995.

“Being the European Capital of Culture will also make it possible to give international visibility to all the creative, social, cultural, intergenerational wealth that we observe here”, added Zahia Ziouani, conductor at the origin of Divertimento, a symphonic ensemble based in Stains. From the Grand Corps Malade to Jamel Debbouze through Alain Ducasse, also conquered, many personalities rallied in the blue and yellow panache of Saint-Denis.

But the application file is also highly participatory. “Residents, artists, the business world, we have taken care of developing a process that gives all areas cultural policies”insists Juliette Bompoint, director of Périféeries 2028. Eager to include everyone and above all not to confiscate culture, the association has thus created 8 “colleges” with sometimes poetic names (Imaginary, children, etc. .) which is responsible for feed visions and desires in the application file.

Great mouth to come

“We also defend a very broad definition of the word culture with cuisine, languages, because we want everyone to feel legitimate”, added Juliette Bompoint. And now ? A great oral – in English please – awaits the various candidates in February 2023. But until then, to borrow a metaphor Olivier Darné, founder of the Poetic Party of Saint-Denis and great cook in front of forever, nothing can stop the dough from rising.

Christophe Lehousse

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