In recent months, designers, actors, structures and cultural activists of the “right to the city” opened a working group on the principles of adult education, to reflect on the urban impacts of Marseille Provence 2013 and conditions its realization. These meetings have been initiated jointly by leaders of the association City Resort for All and the Wasteland La Belle de Mai. They were quickly joined by other actors of civil society.

A Downtown for All is an activist organization that works alongside people so that they are not victims of political rehabilitation and urban transformations.
Regarding the wasteland La Belle de Mai, she has always considered its artistic and cultural development as an integral stakeholder and a city project.
The question posed by the group is: “Are there inevitable that a project cultural causes or accompanies gentrification? “. This issue is particularly acute in the context of Marseille Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture, with its major events, new structural facilities that accompany it, are likely to accelerate the exclusion of the most vulnerable to economic insecurity inhabitants to replace them with more affluent populations.

Gentrification, public and cultural policies

The process of “gentrification” that develops in other town centers is the result of free functioning of the land market, but it can be stimulated by the urban planning operations. It is then, too, the result of public policies.

These rehabilitation projects and renovation “incentives” can be detrimental to social stability if the public authority abandons its operator and regulator role. So the revaluation of land and the arrival of new populations – usually easier – necessarily entail the departure of the most popular layers. And the forced migration concerns as artists and creators and other strata of the population.

Conversely, if the public authority exercises its responsibilities, it can contribute to urban revitalization and, without excluding, give them both with their place in the social, economic and urban life. Today, the home of major cultural events and running the “creative city” seem to be the central pillars of the local urban policies: it seems necessary that the Marseille Provence 2013 project examines all its social implications and urban .

Marseilles case

Marseille is one of the few European cities popular in Europe. The city is facing acute situations of social segregation, and it is feared that urban transformations during accentuate divisions between territories. Long, municipal politics does not hide his desire to “reclaim the city center,” but if this policy has already led many exclusions, the process of “gentrification” are rather generally failed.
However, the pressure on land is continuous, weakening still further the poorest populations. The “exclusion from the market” creates displacement to neighborhoods which become pockets of poverty. If on that day, this “gentrification” dreamed of by some, has resulted partly, of course, is related to the ability of inherent resistance to Marseille social fabric, but also poverty and the economic crisis endemic to this city. However, many of its effects are already evident.

Marseille Provence 2013 and urban issues

Concerning the urban development policy Marseille and the necessary strengthening of regional solidarity, it is certainly not within the jurisdiction of MP in 2013 to replace the Mayor or the Urban Community. However, one displayed by the European Capital of Culture aims is, like that of the Chamber of Commerce, to enter the territory of the “Top 20” ranking of European cities.
In nature Similarly, this project is part of a concerted political strategy to make this area more “attractive” to investors (including the experience of the rue de la République has shown the limits) strategy as evidenced by the “urban marketing” of Operation of national interest Euroméditerranée, characterized by the value of real estate, the gigantic projection of a real luxury high-rise towers silhouetted a waterfront idealized.
If it is an illusion to think that a great event culture could alone overcome shortfalls of these economic policies, it would be dangerous to leave reshape the city.
Accordingly, the central question is: initiators of the Cultural Capital do they need to ask themselves these issues and how can they seize it and initiate and sustain production may curb the phenomena of spatial segregation, social and economic?

What method, what are the priorities?

The objectives of the European Capitals of Culture may seem contradictory. The project should offer the city a showcase of international dimension while relying on the artistic potential of the area and a very high participation of cultural actors and the local population. Highly event programming that promises also aims to strengthen long-term structuring of the cultural field.
This restructuring should not take the form of a reformatting of the cultural fabric, in the name of economic efficiency, more or less forced to from above, planing the diversity and creativity of the burgeoning city.
Construct a project shared territory and performance requirements, while respecting cultural actors and all aspects of cultural creation, integrating all relationships and artistic exchanges involved within the company.

The responsibility of local operators and the co-construction of the project

It is up to MP 2013 in accordance with its frequently repeated willingness to build art projects with these forces in a true sense of territory in connection with the daily reality of the people. The democratic challenge that determines the success of 2013, European Capital of Culture can operate, we believe that through a process to create and act together to overcome social, community, cultural and institutional obstacles that mark the territory. This involves passing a logic of “expertise enlightened” to a co-construction in which each player can take his place not in competition, but complementarity and coherence.

The metropolitan issue and polycentrality

One of the challenges of the European Capital of Culture is to strengthen metropolisation the Marseille metropolitan area. To date, the regional capital is relatively isolated within a larger regional area and no play its role in the city center, it must nevertheless assume the burdens of centrality.
The scope of the European Capital of Culture is a plate because all relevant territorial issues – economics, transportation, housing, land -. should be considered at this scale
remain to define the conditions and forms of the “centrality”. The very idea of capital often implies a hegemonic posture, especially in France. Yet a more dynamic approach in regard to territorial centrality is possible, built on the reality of a polycentric metropolis, and offering territorial arrangements, not competitors, but complementary and mutually supportive.
Assuming the full “polycentrality” that any territorial ambition affirming its willingness to make visible the forces of creation and supporting resistance to exclusion and gentrification should be one of the principles of action of MP in 2013.

A lever for an ambitious popular cultural policy

MP 2013 should generate a true awareness of the need to open up to all cultural policy, which, with artists and cultural operators, combines the entire population, strengthens social ties and meets the suction as many to participate in the collective project.
And these actors should be strengthened over time, well beyond the 2013 deadline.

A cultural project in the service of social and urban project

MP 2013 will make sense only if the cultural project starts – with regard to Marseille, but also elsewhere – in the service of an overall project, in terms of urban planning, but also in its social dimension. All social components must be associated with the cultural event of 2013, but the most important is that the people in our neighborhoods do not bear the brunt. There is an urgent need as well as a cultural project, a project of urban social integration.