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Montpellier 2028, the "gifted" city

Montpellier Montpellier

In France, many cities have decided to participate in the competition to become the European Capital of Culture in 2028 together with a city in the Czech Republic. With EcocNews also for 2028 we discover which are some of the candidate cities and how they are moving to involve citizens and to change the destiny of their cities. Also in this circumstance we asked all the French candidate cities the same questions. After Rouen, today we discover Montpellier.

Montpellier is a city in southern France near the Mediterranean Sea. One of the largest urban centres in the region of Occitania, Montpellier is the prefecture of the department of Hérault. In 2018, 290,053 people lived in the city, while its metropolitan area had a population of 787,705.

In the Middle Ages, Montpellier was an important city of the Crown of Aragon (and was the birthplace of James I), and then of Majorca, before its sale to France in 1349. Established in 1220, the University of Montpellier is one of the oldest universities in the world and oldest medical school still in operation, with notable alumni such as Petrarch, Nostradamus and François Rabelais. Above the medieval city, the ancient citadel of Montpellier is a stronghold built in the seventeenth century by Louis XIII of France.

Since the 1990s, Montpellier has experienced one of the strongest economic and demographic growth in the country. Its living environment with one of Europe's largest pedestrian area, along with its rich cultural life and Mediterranean climate, explain the enthusiasm for the city, which is nicknamed the "Gifted". Montpellier was nominated for "Best Emerging Culture City of the Year 2017" by the think tank LCD.

The interview is with the team of Montpellier 2028. 

Why did your city decide to apply for the European capital of culture?

The city wish to apply in order to express a strong desire, coming from the field, from citizens and cultural actors, to place culture at the heart of the issues for the years to come by opening up a vast field of reflection aimed at reinventing a cultural policy adapted to the issues and challenges of the time. This vision was shared by the City of Sète and very quickly other partners joined the process, suc hast the Occitanie Region, the Hérault Department, the Community of Municipalities of the Pays de Luner, The Community of Municipalities of the Grand Pic-Saint-Loup, the Community of Municipalities of the Vallée de l’Hérault, and the Hérault Méditerranée Agglo. The candidacy for the title of European Capital of Culture 2028 is thus thought of as a powerful lever for activating this reinvention, a way of federating a population around the arts and culture, of bringing on board the entire professional and amateur artistic fabric in a professional and amateur artistic fabric in a common, shared and ambitious adventure.

Together we choose to affirm the importance and the strengh of Europe, culture and heritage as facors of peace and dialogue, to bring people and territories closer together. Together we are engaging in a commin dynamic of reflection and action in the medium and long term.

What do you think are the keywords of your application?

Our bid is an act of cooperation. Montpellier’s bi dis based on a long history of hospitality and sharing. Today, we want to unite around a project to renew our imagination and prepare our inhabitants to meet the major European challenges of the 21st Century. With and ambitious project of transformation of our territory, starting from culture.

We want this cooperation to be as broad as possible, placed in a European and international horizon, starting from inhabitants, the actors but also the local authorities.

How are you involving citizens in this competition?

In different ways. We began with a questionnaire open to everyone to find out what expectations, assets, projections and desires each person had regarding the impact of this bid.

We also proposed workshops to co-construct the candidacy on the themes that seemed relevant at the beginning of the process. The composition of the assocation supporting the bid also reflects the diversity of the stackholders who are working with us. Representatives of local authorities sit alongside representatives of universities, the education sector, economic players, the sustainable city and sponsors. A whole territory is mobilized. A call for projects will also allow initiatives to be deployed throughout the bid ares. They will be unveiled in July.

What are the next steps on your journey?

The call for projects is an important step in the weeks to come. It is emblematic of a desire to identify initiatives from the field, and thus to support and enhance the richness of our territory. It will allow us to see the first artistic proposals throughout the territory of the candidacy and thus create a common ground. The definition of our cultural strategy will also be an important step. The date of December 1st and the finalization of the bidbook is naturally an essential step. Without waiting to know which cities have been shortlisted, we will launch a new call for projects for 2023 in the autumn to maintain the strong momentum that has been built up. The end of the year will be marked by new events, in the public space which is a strong element of the "où être ensemble" for us.

What are your thoughts on the European Capital of Culture competition?

The simple fact of being candidates allows us to define a common orientation and work axes to bring out new proposals. To conceive and support cultural projects that take a look at the major European issues and create new imaginary worlds.

To imagine new models of responsible, sustainable and inclusive cultural events by testing new practices. Beyond that, our bid brings together territories that are obviously close to each other, but that still do not work together very much. This is why Montpellier 2028 has set itself the goal of designing routes. This is why Montpellier 2028 has set itself the goal of creating paths that link territories and create common ground. Beyond that, the capital year will allow us to share and disseminate our work to a large European audience. We see it as a real turning point for the history of our territory.



Serafino Paternoster

Ecocnews Founder, Journalist, repentant jazz guitarist, music critic and film lover.

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