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Perifeeries 2028, The heart of the suburbs beats with culture

children's assembly, Saint Denis children's assembly, Saint Denis

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, Montpellier, Clermont – Ferrand, Reims Bastia – Corsica, and Bourges today we discover Saint Denis.

Saint-Denis is a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris. It is located 9.4 km from the centre of Paris and had a population of 112,091 as of 2018. It is a subprefecture of the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, being the seat of the arrondissement of Saint-Denis.

Saint-Denis is home to the royal necropolis of the Basilica of Saint-Denis and was also the location of the associated abbey. It is also home to France's national football and rugby stadium, the Stade de France, built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Saint-Denis is a formerly industrial suburb currently changing its economic base. Inhabitants of Saint-Denis are called Dionysiens.[

The claim is Perifeeries 2028. The interview is with the team of Saint Denis.

Why did your city decide to apply for the European capital of culture?
Our wish for our city and the suburban territories in general is a change of perception and of narrative. Périféeries 2028 aims to highlight the magic and pride that can be found in suburbs and peripheral areas overall through art, cultural and historical heritage, and above all the people.
We carry the desires of inhabitants of all Europe, those who are designated as "next door" or relegated. We will give these stories and narratives a place in the city so that they are no longer excluded from a modernity that will not have the slightest chance of being built without them.
The ECOC project is a great opportunity to highlight these new narratives and allow the peripheries to shine through Europe and the world. 

What do you think are the keywords of your application?
Our main keyword is the periphery. What makes us unique and strong are all the geographical, social, artistic and (inter)cultural peripheries that we wish, through this application, to highlight and connect. The aim of our bid is to highlight the voices, stories and experiences of those who are constantly relegated to the background: women, the elderly, people from immigrant backgrounds, people who identify as LGBTQIA+, etc, to create the new mythologies that will shape the cultural practices of tomorrow. For example, in our bid, children are artistic programmers and we want to set up an intercommunal youth cultural council! We are taking this opportunity to create or strengthen links between other peripheries in Europe and the world: Kaunas in Lithuania, Eleusis in Greece, Molenbeek in Belgium, Oakland in California... 

How are you involving citizens in this competition?
Citizens are at the heart of the bid process: they are part of the 8 working groups created at the launch of the bid and with whom we work on a daily basis. The “Council of Influence” that they compose will have met 6 times during this first phase of the bid, in addition to the exhibitions, evenings, conferences that we have organized and meeting times during district or town events. Numerous projects have been set up to test citizen involvement on the territory: the opening of 1 place in the center of Saint-Denis dedicated to the bid, Périféeries 2028’s studio, 4 artistic residences, 7 "satellite" projects (one in each district of Saint-Denis), 10 "fairy brigades" (artistic workshops brought to associations whose mission is not artistic practice). Also, the Périféeries 2028 “flag game”, created by artists from Saint-Denis, les soeurs Chevalme, is a playful device proposed during convivial moments to children and their families, and will be presented throughout the territory. Our priority has always been that our bid reflects our territory, being inclusive, open and dynamic. 

What are the next steps on your journey?
Our next step is the public restitution of one of our 4 test residences, “Sur le chemin… la nuit” (On the road... at night). Dedicated to the theme of urbanity and its close links with culture, this residency was led by the artistic company Art au Quotidien. Night-time readings will be proposed in the public space in Seine-Saint-Denis on 27, 28 and 29 October. The aim is to question the infinite variation of the female point of view through the notion of landscape, based on the different territories crossed by women from Seine-Saint-Denis. The very last step of our year, and not the least, will be the delivery of the bidbook, before 1 January 2023!

What are your thoughts on the European Capital of Culture competition?
It is a unique moment that allows us to develop links between the actors of the territory and with the rest of Europe, a unique opportunity to work together to implement a cultural ecology for 2028 and beyond, to place culture at the heart of all public policies. A moment that allows us to see what Europe can bring to us but also what we, at our level and with our capacity for imagination and experimentation and success in living together, can bring to it. A way of saying that the transitions to come are above all cultural and that culture is not limited to art and creation but is integrated into all strata of society. An opportunity to shout out loud that being the capital of culture means being the capital of ALL cultures.


Serafino Paternoster

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

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