Marseille: City and Capital of Culture in/and Crisis

Abstract : Themes of culture and European Capitals of Culture in/and crisis reflect some realities affecting Marseille, the French town that was nominated with a set of municipalities of its area as Marseille-Provence, European Capital of Culture for 2013. Indeed, difficulties encountered by Marseille indicate a crisis that can be described at the city level itself but also in the management of the operations linked with the European Capital of Culture. Marseille is a port city which is struggling to overcome a long crisis in its economic model; it is also a city that is characterized by an historical and large immigration, especially North African, and by its ability to make living together in a kind of common urban and local identity peoples of diverse backgrounds.These aspects were turned into assets in a bid project built around the dialogue of cultures and the opening (openness) of the Mediterranean in a context of tensions between its northern and southern shores. Marseille is also portrayed as a particular city due to its historical conflict with the French centralism and the opacity of its political management. These characteristics are put forward to explain the atmosphere of crisis in the management of the European Capital of Culture marked by difficulties of the project’s team to collaborate with local actors and structures but also with other municipalities involved in the European Capital of Culture which maintain some rivalry and distrust with Marseille. On top of these difficulties come also crisis of public finances that lead to cuts in grants to culture by local and regional councils, which are denounced as inconsistent with the aim of the project European Capital of Culture. Our paper seeks so to analyze, through the example of Marseille, issues related to the impact of economic crisis and crisis in the management of European Capital of Culture Marseille-Provence 2013. Finally, if the concept of crisis is regularly mobilized to characterize economics and the management of Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture, this event is also an opportunity to distinguish the plurality of meanings that encompass this notion of crisis: decisive moment, emotional demonstration, changing of balance, etc... not just difficulty, discomfort or stalemate. The crisis and its anomic dimension can also be seen as a resource for culture in the making.
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Jean-Christophe Sevin, Marie-Hélène Poggi. Marseille: City and Capital of Culture in/and Crisis. Wim Coudenys, Laszlo Komlosi. Culture in/and Crisis. Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Conference of the University Network of the European Capitals of Culture, UNEECC Edition, pp.184-190, 2012, 2068-2123. ⟨http://uneecc.ulbsibiu.ro/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/IV-UNEECC-Proceedings.pdf⟩. ⟨halshs-01951783⟩

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