The Nord-Pas de Calais region has been investing quite massively in culture over the past few years (€52 million in 2014 – 3rd region in France), despite the fact that it is below national average in terms of employment, GDP per capita and number of people earning enough to pay an income tax. So culture is really seen as a driver of regional development here. This study visit in Nord-Pas de Calais aimed at exploring territorial dynamics around two iconic cultural projects of the region in the Euralens area:
1) The Louvre-Lens museum, a large-scale cultural investment
2) The UNESCO labelling of the mining basin.
The main objective was to understand how these two initiatives had been implemented and how local dynamics took over to reel in projects benefiting territorial development. Another key aspect to explore was the link between locals and the Louvre-Lens project – which can be seen as a ‘foreign’ object to this territory.
The question of impacts was also on the agenda: such a large-scale project is expected to contribute to quantifiable results in terms of local development.
The key aspects to the success of the initiative were:
– Strong political drive to facilitate implantation of the Louvre-Lens with early discussions back in 2004.
– Large-Scale cultural investment – a “cultural shock”
– Valorisation of territorial assets – cultural heritage to drive territorial attractiveness
– Cultivating local ownership of these two iconic projects.
– Euralens – linking up contrasting approaches through labelling of local projects.Perhaps more importantly, the approach has been strongly participatory – through workshops, ad hoc events.
The whole territorial regeneration project is still nascent in many ways, with only two waves of projects labelled through Euralens and a third one coming up, for example. The development of the mining basin UNESCO site is also work in progress towards a smart articulation of a comprehensive touristic offer. It has however yielded significant results in terms of local participation, with 1/6 visitors to the Louvre Lens coming from the Euralens area, 1/2 from the region and 1/4 are international visitors. In total, 2 million people have visited the Louvre Lens already since its opening in December 2012 (around 500.000 per year). Monitoring of impacts will play an important role in future developments. This has been identified as a priority for the Louvre-Lens, through a partnership with INSEE (national statistics institute) in order to monitor
25 key indicators around the Louvre-Lens on a yearly basis.