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Rouen 2028, a cultural network with 6 cities

Rouen, Place de la Pucelle Rouen, Place de la Pucelle Photo by MRN/Alan Aubry

For the past few months, Rouen Seine Normande 2028 has been working with certain European cities. These friend-towns make the candidature for the label European Capital of Culture 2028 a truly European project. Europe Day, on 9 May, was the occasion to highlight this aspect.

“Working at a European scale enriches our project and means that we can project ourselves onto the horizon of 2028 while keeping in mind universal concerns,” explains Christine de Cintré, Vice-President of the association in charge of Rouen’s application. “By exchanging on a daily basis with towns that have similarities with Rouen and the Seine Normande Valley, we can validate our choices, and concretely improve our candidacy.”

Working with friend-towns answers to two points: firstly, feeding a truly European dimension into a local project; secondly, showing how the project for Seine Normande can be seen to be exemplary, inspiring and instructive for other European regions.

Rouen Seine Normande 2028 works daily with six towns in six countries to nourish and enrich its project. Each of them corresponds in its own way with the challenges of the Seine Normande Valley, which is a commercial and industrial hub, the path of historic conquests and a site of dangers linked to climate change.

Hanover, Germany, 537,000 inhabitants

A twin town of Rouen since 1966
Member of the network of UNESCO Creative Cities – Music
Hanover was a candidate to be a European Capital in 2025

The Leine River flows through the city and forms Germany’s main potash basin. Its valley has become an important industrial centre that connects Göttingen with Hanover. The question of industrial risks and decarbonation lie at the heart of our shared preoccupations.

Ongoing projects:
A crossed literature residency 2022–2023 in partnership with the library network
an event with the two authors Alice Baude and Laura M. Neunast.
Numerous events with French and German musical ensembles (relations with CRR, Kalif, the international clarinet competition, the Ensemble Variances …).
Hosting the international salon Classical. Next between 17 and 20 May, where Normandie will be represented by the Ensemble Variances and the NomadPlay company, recently established on the territory.
The Youle Compagnie invited in June 2022 to the Arab Theatre Festival in Hanover.
Exchanges between young students playing e-sport – return match in June 2022.
Meetings between the law schools of Rouen and Hanover in May and October 2022.

Aveiro: Portugal, 80,000 inhabitants

A candidate to be a European Capital in 2027
A city with which Rouen co-signed the France-Portugal 2022 season
Member of the CreArt and of the CultureNext networks

Aveiro is Portugal’s little Venice organising its life around a laguna into which the Vouga River flows. The region of Aveiro is a wetland. The climate crisis has meant adopting thought processes similar to those concerning the Seine estuary: the maintenance of landscapes and activities, rising water and the drying of certain environments.

Ongoing projects:
The city of Aveiro is associated with the rewriting of the Europe Creative CreArt dossier – 2023-2026.
Information about the France Portugal season in Rouen – www.rouen.fr/france-portugal.
Organisation of an encounter between the museum networks of Aveiro and Rouen from 15 to 17 June 2022.
Sunday 16 October 2022 – Final concert of the France Portugal season in Aveiro in the presence of students from the Conservatory of Rouen who will join up with the Orquestra das Beiras conducted by Maestro Lourenço.
Reflections about a partnership between the Universities of Rouen and of Aveiro around the works of Gustave Flaubert and Eça de Queiros.

Kaunas: Lithuania, 337,000 inhabitants

A European Capital of Culture in 2022
Member of the CreArt network
UNESCO Creative City – Design

The Niemen River is used to produce electricity for the city, for its inhabitants and for its economic activities. It is one of the largest rivers that flow into the Baltic Sea. Its source lies in Belarus and it forms the border between the two countries for over 150km.

Ongoing projects:
Rouen Seine Normande 2028 is working with Kaunas 2022 on the possibility of joining up in solidarity for the accompaniment and reception of Ukrainian refugees.
The organisation of an exhibition in partnership with the Honorary Consul of Lithuania in Normandie.
As part of the European Participation Encounters in 2023, an invitation from the Kaunas association which developed the concept “We, the people”, a participative approach that influenced and inspired the Lithuanian’s city application.
The Artkomas gallery in Kaunas is associated with the rewriting of the Europe Creative CreArt dossier – 2023-2026.

Norwich: Great Britain, 161,000 inhabitants

A twin town of Rouen since 1959.
Norwich was a candidate to be a European Capital in 2008
Norwich is twinned with Novi Sad a 2022 European Capital (a non-member city)
A member of UNESCO Creative Cities – Literature – “National Centre for Writing” –
The Norwich & Norfolk Festival is a member of the In Situ network (Viva Cité – Sotteville-lès-Rouen)

Europe is a continent with shared histories that cannot be wiped out by a referendum. The River Wensum is the proof: it was used to transport stones from Caen for the construction of Norwich Cathedral. Like the Seine, the Wensum has inspired painters and in particular John Crome, the cofounder of the Norwich School of painters. Another bond with the Seine Normande is formed by textile activities: weaving and wool have both played an important part in the economic history of the Norwich region.

Ongoing projects:
Short Film Festival: This is England – Rouen Norwich club.
Work in association between Rouen Art Nature and the Ground Work Gallery – King’s Lynn about the question of ecological art. The gallery is displaying an interest in the work of Aude Bourgine and of Julie Tocqueville (a sponsor of Rouen Seine Normande 2028).
An ongoing musical collaboration between the Shed and the Variances Ensemble.
A project of exchanges between the Safran Collectif and the “Garage”. Events are being envisaged between the summer and autumn of 2022.
A project concerning the possibility of exchanges between Brass Bands.

Skopje: North Macedonia, 584,000 inhabitants

Application to be a European Capital in 2028 in the non-member city category
Member of the CreArt network
Member of the Culture Next network

Its river, the Vardar, is a major axis in the region of the Balkans, as it connects Serbia to Greece. Important road and railway services run along its banks. The river also suffers from the same pressures as the Seine: industrial and agricultural pollutions as well as the exploitation of the resource of water for irrigation.

Ongoing projects:
The exhibition of a Macedonian artist as part of the Art & Bus show in the summer of 2022.
The city of Skopje is associated with the rewriting of the Europe Creative CreArt dossier – 2023-2026.

Trondheim: Norway, 198,000 inhabitants

A Norwegian class at the Lycée Corneille.
The Norwegian Consulate of Rouen – Honorary Consul Mr Paul Hebert.
Celebration of the one thousandth anniversary of the baptism of Olaf in Rouen, in 2014.
In 2030, Norway will commemorate the one thousandth anniversary of the death of Olaf II and Normandie will be highly involved in this event.
La Chapelle Saint Olav which contains the Foyer des Marins – rue Duguay Trouin.

The Nidelva, a coastal river, flows from the city into a fjord and then the North Sea. The river is dotted by six hydroelectric power stations. Trondheim was founded by the legendary Viking King Olaf, another point that makes it a terrain of European history. It was in Rouen that King Olaf was baptised in 1014.

Ongoing projects:
Le Havre maintains connections with the National Maritime Academy around the themes of the industries of cruises, offshore construction and alternative types of propulsion.
Rouen Seine Normande 2028 is working with the city of Trondheim on the possibility of including them in the Europe Creative CreArt network.
The City of Rouen is initiating a three-year partnership with the Orkester Nord, an internationally renowned baroque orchestra, from 2022 to 2024.

La Réunion des Musées Métropolitains in Rouen is participating in an intercultural cooperation project (Erasmus+ programme) with Norway and Germany, on the global theme of inclusion. Educational professionals and museums will work together for 2 years to produce tools and resources. The starting point concerns the tensions that may exist between students, because of cultural differences. The museums have been identified as structures capable of providing tools for thought so as to improve the way we live together.

Connections with the exhibition “Lumières Nordiques” which will be held from 14 April to 13 August 2023, focussing on Norwegian artists, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen.

The Czech Republic: The choice of the Czech Republic is strategic, because this country is also an applicant to be a European Capital in 2028. Apparently, 5 Czech towns are currently applying: Chomutov, Brno, Liberec, Broumov and Ceske Budejovice. A meeting with the Czech ambassador and the cultural attaché has been held in Paris. A work meeting is being planned about shared topics at the beginning of the 2022 academic year. A Czech artist will be accompanying Rouen 2028 in the identification of projects and actors to be mobilised having the same values as in the application of Rouen Seine Normande 2028.