Background to the programme
The project was born from the desire to open a theatre in the city of Aubervilliers. But a few years later the building was considered dangerous because it did not meet safety standards which pushed the association to diversify its actions. These changes were accompanied by a field study with associations and "representatives" to draw up an inventory of the area and of the needs and expectations of residents. This led to the current philosophy of the association and its actions: move away from the elitist side of cultural venues and offer itself as a place for the exchange of ideas and know-how instead of being a "distributor of culture".
Objectives of the programme
- The main objective is "permeability": create a space that encourages encounters that would not occur elsewhere: between cultures, know-how and very different audiences.
- Transform the outlook of inhabitants in their regions, physical or social, through these exchanges
- Break away from the elitist offers of other cultural associations and open up to the widest possible audience
- The open theatre (once a month): time for meetings and informal exchanges between people who may or may not belong to the association. An ideal place for the emergence of new projects
- The Lantern Stroll (once a year for three years): a great moment to gather and join together in a public place: community centre, shared garden ... and a group walk
- Silkscreen Printing Workshop (every week since January 2015): gathering of people from the neighbourhood around a particular skill
- One-off, diverse activities, co-developed with local associations, such as cooking workshops, beekeeping workshops (with the association's hives!) or dances, whose programming is scalable (around one workshop per month)
All these activities are open to the public without any obligation to join the association
- Welcome events at the homes of theatre companies
- Collaboration with foreign associations (British, Indian) to create one off meetings and exchanges
Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions
Net increase in people's participation in the activities
- The open theatre brings together 3-50 people every month
- In 3 years, participation in The Lantern Stroll from 100 to 1000 people
- The 4 dances that were held in 2014 brought together a hundred people each
- In February 2015, the number of subscribers to the newsletter of the association reached 700 people (subscription to the newsletter is completely voluntary)
Meetings with people outside the project have reassured the association in its actions, especially partners such as the European program on education or researchers such as Luc Bazin.
- The "permeability" in the exchanges between actors that is favoured by the association. Too often actors are isolated from each other in the associations which can damage local development
- The rupture with the elitism of cultural venues that tend, in the Paris suburbs in particular, to be an "extension of Paris." In this light, the association wants to better meet the specific needs and expectations of its city and its neighbourhood and not impose a particular vision on it.
- The "organic" development of projects which has the consequence of generating the activities as and when, without advanced programming and without a timetable created in advance. This gives great flexibility in the organisation of activities and the possibility for inhabitants in the area to participate more.
Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme
Operational partners who are exclusively foreign and with whom we are in constant contact and organise meetings
- B Arts, British Association
- Wind Dancers, supported by Sangeeta Isvaran, an Indian association
- The city of Aubervilliers, the only permanent financial partner
- On a temporary basis following calls for proposals: The General Council of 93, the urban community, the Isle de France region, the parliamentary financial reserve, the European program for education, the Asia-Europe Foundation.
Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :
- Developing long term funding and human resources
- Casting their work in the field in a good light, notably to obtain funding proportional to the work carried out.
- The association's lack of own resources and therefore the inability to invest in the renovation and upgrading of the theatre to the required standard.
- Being recognised as a cultural association by institutions despite the size of the audience, often seen as too "working class"
- The non-planning of activities, highlighted as a strength but which also poses organisational difficulties
Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :
- Communicate activities in alternative ways (social networks, newsletter), no distribution of posters or invitations
- Discussions with the new municipal team to obtain funds for the renovation of the building
Suggestions for future improvement :
The building renovation will solve many problems including that of how to bring together people in the association's premises.
Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :
- Being based in a precise location in which we work to better assess the needs of people and not trying to impose a preconceived project without considering the context. We have to take into account the specificities of the field
- Working with associations and "representatives" to better understand local issues
Ideas for basic or applied research topics, that could be useful to the programme :
Need for objective perspective on the activities undertaken in light of the context in which they are developed. Need to place its actions in a particular sector such as "social pedagogy" or "citizenship education".