“Bourges 2028” focuses on sobriety

Bourges (Cher). In 2013, Marseille – European Capital of Culture that year – had forgotten some of its most talented artists. IAM, Psy 4 de la Rime or the Fonky Family, figures of Marseille rap, then stepped up to denounce snobbish programming, turning their backs on their own children. An episode remembered by Pascal Keizer, general commissioner of “Bourges 2028”, in order to make Berruyère programming the counter-example of Marseille. “Today, music represents 25% of creative industries in Europe, but only 5% of the “Creative Europe” budget. However, rap or current music are the best tool for transmitting messages. he maintains.

With 25% of its budget devoted to music, Bourges 2028 concocts a European musical program, drawing on the experience of Printemps de Bourges: an event which opens the music festival season every year since 1977, recognized as the nursery of new French-speaking talents. “One of the challenges is to take advantage of the “Capital” year to Europeanize the Printemps de Bourges, it is a desire shared with the director of the festival. »

Focused on the emergence of young European musicians, this program will also include big names… still kept secret to maintain suspense until the final application file is submitted. Music will be presented at the same time in the form of the “Missing women” exhibition, a journey curated by conductor Claire Gibault, which will highlight women musicians erased from history.

An influence on the Centre-Val de Loire region

The locations where the major Bourges 2028 exhibitions will be held have yet to be determined: and for good reason, they will probably be mobile. During the first selection phase, the jury expressed its fear of a delay in the major cultural infrastructure projects intended to host the event, in particular the Bourges museums, now closed for health reasons. The four municipal museums are the subject of a renovation plan, still in the study phase [lire le JdA no 611, 12 mai 2023]. For this vast heritage project, the milestone of 2028 therefore seems premature. If, in the first version, 118 million euros were devoted to investment in these museums, Bourges 2028 preferred to remove certain projects from the budget. Major structuring projects nevertheless remain, such as the “European City of Artists and Authors”, which, installed in the former Hôtel-Dieu, will offer residencies, exhibitions and a legal resource center on copyright. “We arrive with a rather harsh proposal on infrastructure, which allows us to overcome the problem of deadlines, lack of materials or labor,” announces Pascal Keizer. This solution, also shrouded in mystery until the final file is submitted, is the result of a work of inventory of available municipal buildings. There is no doubt that the spirit of the Micro-Folies largely inspired this system: in 2017, Didier Fusillier, then president of the Public Establishment of the park and the Grande Halle de la Villette, called on Pascal Keizer to act as curator artistic of these small mobile and digital museums which, numbering around 1,000 today, irrigate the French territory.

The Micro-Folies were already part of the first application file presented to the jury last February: the idea was then to transform equipment from Vierzon (Cher), Bourges and Nevers (Nièvre) into places of exchange, but also to disseminate the programming of the European Capital of Culture across the entire national Micro-Folies network. The mobility of the device now colors the rest of the program: the major exhibition devoted to the manuscript The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry will thus be itinerant, in order to confront the medieval miniatures with the landscapes they illustrate. The same goes for the partnership established with the Center Pompidou, which will extend to the entire Centre-Val de Loire region, from a “major project highlighting cultural decentralization”. A foretaste will be given this fall with the “Archipel” festival, which presents works from the National Museum of Modern Art in fifty-four locations in the region.

“Major” interventions in stations and trains

Landlocked and less accessible than its competitors, Bourges has made mobility the central subject of its candidacy. A large part of the demonstrations will take place in stations and trains. Six stations in the SNCF network – including one in Paris – will become “totem” places in the Capital, with “ large-scale architectural and artistic interventions”, and exhibitions. On the trains, Bourges 2028 will offer live shows, extending beyond the borders of the Central region to the rest of Europe. This summer, it unveiled a prototype of this program focused on mobility, with a very ironic “RER”: a low-carbon bus launched on the roads of Berry and stopping at sites like the Noirlac abbey or the Contres marshes. where artistic interventions were to be discovered. This running-in system will come back in force in 2028, with a “international level police station”, promises Pascal Keizer.

Despite a modest budget, the smallest of those of the candidate cities in the running (40 million euros, a point of concern for the jury regarding the successful completion of the project), Bourges 2028 offers an ambitious program by focusing on town planning. transient and mobile places. The candidacy also takes the subject of energy sobriety head on: it has appointed a “carbon commissioner”, responsible for assessing the climate impact of each of the components of the Capital Year, the production of artistic projects when tourists arrive. A sobriety approach which has an influence on the content: “We must build a very high-level program, with limited movement of works. We will not hold ten major exhibitions with works from New York or Shanghai, we will not ask for monumental works from major foundations, explains Pascal Keizer. We have to work in another way, and that opens other doors for us. »

The key figures for Bourges 2028


City: 64,362 inhabitants.
Bourges Plus urban community: 106,126 inhabitants.
A UNESCO World Heritage property (Saint-Étienne Cathedral)
112 historical monuments
5 Museums of France A National Scene (house of culture)
A National Higher School of Art (Ensa)
A remarkable heritage site

City’s 2023 culture budget

€12 million (15% of the total budget)

Budget European Capital of Culture

Operation: €40 million

4 candidate cities in 4 numbers

Four cities are now in the running for the title of European Capital of Culture in 2028: Bourges, Clermont-Ferrand, Montpellier and Rouen. They must submit their final file at the beginning of November and will receive members of the jury in December. The winning city will be announced in December 2023 after a new phase of presentation and deliberation by the jury. THE Arts Journal presents in this issue the candidacy of Bourges, then that of Clermont-Ferrand on November 3, Montpellier on November 17 and Rouen on December 1.

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