The city of Nantes encourages daily cultural and educational activities that allow people to be themselves while strengthening social cohesion. Since 2009, the city has been supporting artistic projects that involve people in creative activities. Every year, about ten ‘shared productions’ are organised in each district of the city. These allow access to culture for everyone, add value to cultural diversity, and encourage local participation.
Since the aim of the project is to promote cultural, social, and urban activities, these ‘shared productions’ bring together a broad range of partners: city departments (culture, social, youth, education, and community workers), other institutions (regional administration, cultural and urban directorate), associations, social housing landlords, etc.
Each year, the city launches a call for projects and connects the artistic proposals with the priority issues of each district. The selection process involves different partners as well as an interdisciplinary political committee. The selection criteria are based on shared standards (artistic quality, citizen participation, compatibility with territorial issues). Once the projects are chosen, the city’s culture department organises regular meetings with all partners in a monitoring and supporting group, which controls the quality of the projects and evaluates them. The city provides the artists with a ‘best practices and evaluation’ toolbox.
These ‘shared productions’ are beneficial for:
- citizens, as they gain access to cultural experiences together with local artists. This contributes to their wellbeing (social life, empowerment, self-esteem etc.)
- partners and communities, as these productions shed fresh light on the city’s working class districts; help develop new partnerships between the administration, citizens, and artists working in the same area; revitalise the district’s social life; and make public spaces more attractive (especially in areas undergoing urban renewal)
- artists, as these productions fuel their desire to involve people in the creative process; encourage the development of innovative artistic productions; and initiate relationships with the locals
The partners have developed an interdisciplinary way of selecting and supporting projects that contribute to ambitious cultural activities across districts. Involving different social structures in the selection and support of projects is crucial for engaging people who otherwise have fewer opportunities. By developing a close relationship with their partners and the locals, participating artists can connect with people in several different ways.