Edeis, the new player in the private management of cultural sites

Ivry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne). This winter, an operator still little known in the cultural landscape announced two new concessions in quick succession. In December 2023, Edeis won the public service delegation (DSP) of the Cité de la mer of Cherbourg (Manche), to the detriment of the mixed economy company (SEM, public company owned by local authorities) which has held the market since 2019, then was named winner of the call for expressions of interest for the reconversion of the Clairvaux abbey-prison (Aube) launched by the State. A company specializing in real estate engineering, and in airport and port real estate, Edeis has been raiding cultural markets since 2021. Cherbourg and Clairvaux make this new entrant in the sector of private management of cultural places a competitor to the historic Kléber Rossillon and Culturespaces.

It was at the expense of the latter that Edeis entered this sector, taking away the DSPs of Nîmes (arenas, Maison Carrée and Magne Tower) and Orange (antique theater, Arc de Triomphe, Musée d art and history).

The history of Edeis is relatively recent. In 2017, the Ginger Group, specializing in hospital real estate, acquired the activities of the Canadian company SNC-Lavalin in France, including its eighteen airports. Edeis was created on the occasion of this merger and, according to its president, Jean-Luc Schnoebelen, the cultural ambition was already present at that time: “From the beginning we said to ourselves that we had to liven up our sites. An airport is not just about planes taking off, we wanted to find themes that attract people and we included two people for the culture. »

Synergies to be created between cultural sites and airports

With its network of airports and ports, the group wishes to position itself as a contact for communities seeking territorial dynamics. Recruited as vice-president of the group to convey this message, former journalist for the LCI television channel Olivier Galzi sees this strategy as the reasons for his recent successes in the cultural sector: “We have this specific approach that makes the difference. What is missing today is the territorial ecosystem: we work with the territorial establishments to put oil in the wheels. » On a map of France, the cultural markets won by Edeis are superimposed on the airports managed by the group: Nîmes, Aix-en-Provence, Cherbourg and Troyes very close to Clairvaux.

In Nîmes (Gard), the DSP granted by the City extends to a form of subcontracting of territorial marketing. Edeis thus bears the tourist identity “Nîmes la Romaine” and does not hide its ambition to create synergies between the development of cultural sites and its airport. “We have created a line with Edinburgh for the Hadrian's Wall summer show in the Arena,” explains Jean-Luc Schnoebelen. This tourism strategy, going against the current recommendations to limit air travel, is not yet convincing: in the Gard, the majority of visitors come from the region.

Mainstream stories to expand and rejuvenate audiences

The content offered by the sites is guided by the ambition to rejuvenate and broaden the public of the monuments under management. “Titanic” in Cherbourg, “Vercingétorix” and “Germanicus and the Barbarian Wrath” in Nîmes: Edeis relies on stories for the general public, which are not always unanimous among historians. The monuments of Orange (Vaucluse) offer a more original proposal, around acoustics. A technological show for the ancient theater was developed by a subsidiary of the group, Imki, combining binaural sound and artificial intelligence: an award-winning show at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas in 2022, a major event for new technologies.

In Clairvaux, the company is the interlocutor of the Ministries of Justice and Culture to bring about a reconversion project including an important cultural component: without revealing more, the president of the group evokes a proposal around the figure of two condemned to death, Claude Buffet and Roger Bontems, incarcerated in the old abbey. Jean-Luc Schnoebelen also claims to be contacted by municipalities – in regions where Edeis is already present – ​​to take charge of cultural projects, such as in Dunkirk (North), Beaune (Côte-d'Or) or Saint-Malo (Ille -et-Vilaine)… without showing great enthusiasm: “Arles approached us for its Christian Lacroix heritage, for example; fewer and fewer people are aware of who he is, we don’t feel an appetite for a “Lacroix museum”.” he believes.

An increase in cultural management skills

Increasing cultural skills is one of the challenges of the group, which has managed to keep the experienced manager of the Culturespaces sites in Orange, but which entrusts its other cultural sites to varied profiles, more focused on management. In 2022, the group is recruiting Catherine Ferrar, former administrator of the Louvre-Lens, as museums and heritage project director. In March, another profile with added cultural value joined the group as communications director, Amandine Blier, former communications director of Citéco, the Cité de l' économique in Paris. Significant reinforcements for future museum projects carried out by the group, such as the development of the Saurel house in Nîmes which was added by the City to its package during the renewal of the DSP – which expires in November 2024 –, and which Edeis will have to defend against a proposal from Kléber Rossillon.

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