The Nord-Pas de Calais region has been investing fairly massively in culture over recent years (’52 million in 2014 – 3rd region of France), despite the fact that it is below the national average in terms of employment, per capita GDP and the number of people earning enough to pay an income tax. Culture is therefore really considered a driving force for regional development. This study visit to Nord-Pas de Calais aimed to explore territorial dynamics around two iconic cultural projects in the region in the Eurralens area:
1) The Louvre-Lens Museum, a large-scale cultural investment
2) The labelling of the mining basin by UNESCO.
The main objective was to understand how these two initiatives had been implemented and how local dynamics took over the recovery in projects that would benefit territorial development. Another key aspect to explore was the link between the locals and the Louvre-Lens project, which can be seen as a “foreign” object in this territory.
The issue of impacts was also on the agenda: a large-scale project is expected to contribute to quantifiable results in terms of local development.
The key aspects of the success of the initiative were:
– A strong political impetus to facilitate the implementation of the Louvre-Lens with the first discussions in 2004.
– Large-scale cultural investment – a “cultural surge”
– Rating of territorial assets – cultural heritage to boost territorial attractiveness
– Get the local ownership of these two iconic projects.
The entire territorial regeneration project remains incipient in many respects, with only two waves of projects labelled via Eurals and a third appearing, for example. The development of the UNESCO mining site is also in progress towards an intelligent articulation of a comprehensive tourist offer. However, it has yielded significant results in terms of local participation, with 1/6 visitors to the Louvre lens from the Eurals area, 1/2 from the region and 1/4 are international visitors. In total, 2 million people have visited the Louvre Lens since its opening in December 2012 (about 500,000 per year). Impact monitoring will play an important role in future development. This has been identified as a priority for the Louvre-Lens, through an association with INSEE (National Statistical Institute) to monitor
25 key indicators around the Louvre-Lens each year.