Montbéliard inaugurates its momentous year in haste

The Pays de Montbéliard Agglomération (PMA) was named a year ago, “French capital of culture 2024” by the Ministry of Culture. This conurbation in eastern France, which brings together 73 communes of Doubs (142,000 inhabitants), will be animated by numerous cultural events for twelve months.

The preparation of the program has accumulated several months of delay, in particular due to the resignation in October 2023 of Philippe Fourchon, former artistic commissioner of the event. He had to be replaced at short notice by three new curators: Matthieu Spiegel, programming director of the concert hall Le Moloco, Yannick Marzin, director of MA Scène Nationale in Montbéliard, and Hervée de Lafond, director of the Théâtre de l’Unité in Audincourt. The latter does not hide her frustration for France 3 “we found ourselves faced with a titanic task which should have been done long before. More than 300 interesting proposals and their financial requests were analyzed in a hurry. It took us a lot of time and we had to drastically reduce the budgets for each project, while refusing half of them.”

The city announced one of these projects every day in December on its social networks, like an Advent calendar. If all the events have not yet been revealed, Charles Demouge, president of the agglomeration, ensures that they will be accessible to as many people as possible: “10% of projects may have paid entries, the remaining 90% will be free.” Hervée de Lafond also confirms that“there will be at least something organized in each of the 73 municipalities of the PMA”.

This cultural program is organized around three themes: time, humans and nature, identities and territory. It intends to question the relationships between people, promote the notions of sharing and conviviality, and this by increasing the number of collaborative events.

Musical events occupy a special place in the program. On January 14, the Victor Hugo orchestra concert will unveil the anthem specially created for this year at the Axone, a performance hall in Montbéliard. This same room will host the official opening ceremony on March 16, which will combine music, theater and dance. In September, a pop-up festival dedicated to current music is also planned.

Montbéliard promises to include these cultural events within the framework of an ecological transition policy. This commitment amounts in particular to raising awareness among the general public of the challenges of tomorrow, in particular environmental issues. The Orchard Festival initiative is, for example, part of this biodiversity protection policy.

The agglomeration of Montbéliard succeeds Villeurbanne, named first French Capital of Culture in 2022. Villeurbanne alone has more inhabitants than the entire agglomeration of Montbéliard and has the particularity of adjoining a large metropolis (Lyon).

Created in 2019, the label “French capital of culture” is awarded every two years to a municipality or group of municipalities with 20,000 to 200,000 inhabitants, which has distinguished itself by its active cultural policy and which proposes a coherent cultural project. Granted for a period of one year by the Ministry of Culture, it rewards the promotion of heritage and cultural transmission, by supporting the development of ambitious projects. Obtaining the label allows you to receive financial support from the State, up to one million euros. In 2022, this sum allowed Villeurbanne to organize more than 700 events.

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