In 2015, I’m from Mons too. And you?
With 300 major events and thousands of cultural and artistic activities, Mons 2015 is getting ready to span 17 partner cities from Lille to Ghent. But the European Capital of Culture has a more ambitious strategy of development and regeneration not only for Mons but the entire region. Becoming a ‘Creative Valley’ in a world turned upside down by new technology is all about moving with the times and acquiring an impetus that will carry thousands of visitors along.
Plus, the project is not just a cultural one
We can see it in the construction projects progressing all over the city, which are not just intended to improve appearances. The new Conference Centre, as majestic as a ship’s hull ploughing the waves, will be linked via a new train station in the form of a walkway to the old city over the other side of the tracks. Another current project of the two architects at work, Daniel Libeskind and Santiago Calatrava, is none other than the reconstruction of Ground Zero in New York.
Their reputations and their work signify a single aim: to open up the imagination, and present a world of possibilities for an entire generation of young entrepreneurs who are investing in the growth of a new creative economy within the region, in a similar vein to Google, Microsoft and IBM. Among this huge ongoing construction programme (without even mentioning the new Ikea!), we have the five new museums that Mons will have to showcase its art collections, its cultural heritage tourism and its three gems that are registered with UNESCO World Heritage: the Neolithic Flint Mines of Spiennes, Europe’s only baroque belfry and the compelling ‘Doudou’ festival.
And so this future creative city is embedded within an equally ambitious artistic vision that relies on the iconic figures who have shaped the collective unconscious of Mons – from Van Gogh to Verlaine, whose art underwent significant development right here in Mons – and on the creative minds celebrated at major festivals, from Joël Pommerat to Guy Cassiers, not to mention the fashionable ‘supporting artists’, such as the designer Jean-Paul Lespagnard and Marc Pinilla from the group Suarez.
But Mons 2015 will not just be a formidable season for the art world
By allowing the people of Mons, the Borinage and the whole of Northern France to have their say, the European Capital of Culture is redefining the concept of citizen participation with a participative and horizontal approach like that used in Café Europa’s innovative digital projects.
And then there is the reinvention of the social bond through permanent celebration of the community in a new kind of festival, which will invariably involve off-the-wall artists creating in the streets, or in our parks, gardens or homes and will challenge us to rethink our identity, our relationship with others and the new directions in which society is going.
Could there be a more exciting challenge for 2015?
Mons 2015 European Capital of Culture