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"The appreciation of cultural and festive venues changes, evolves"

Interview with Mr. Félicien Mazzola, spokesperson for the Department of Culture and Digital Transition.

The cultural offering of the canton is rich and diverse, skillfully handling both the codes of classicism and avant-gardism. Amidst this symphony of festivals, venues, exhibitions, and performances, one actor plays a key role: the Department of Culture, led by Sami Kanaan. One of its declared goals: to create connections between the public and cultural institutions. In short, to open up culture to as many people as possible, while making the residents of Geneva active participants in it. This is a long-term project which also includes the night economy, which the Village du Soir is a part of, as Félicien Mazzola, spokesperson for the Department of Culture and Digital Transition, explains.

When one thinks about the relationships between the City and cultural actors, the connection with festive places like the Village du Soir is not obvious. And yet, it exists.

Indeed. Already in 2011, following the "Etats Généraux de la Nuit" Sami Kanaan launched a significant effort on the night economy, at a time when l’Usine was under serious threat of closure and other venues were forced to stop their activities at midnight due to nuisances to the neighbourhood. From this emerged a participatory multidisciplinary project of "mapping" Geneva's nightlife, called "Geneva explores its night" (2013), led by a geographer from the University of Lyon and involving both police authorities, festive places, and residents. It was an important milestone "for the 'night' to return to the political agenda," as Mr. Kanaan explained, and a very effective way to get all parties involved, directly or indirectly, with this nocturnal universe to meet and talk to each other. The goal was to reconcile the needs of the night economy with those of the residents, from tranquility to continuing to have a diverse range of places to go out (late) at night, while taking into account the security aspect of the population.

What has changed with this initiative?

I think the most significant change was a different appreciation by the City of these places. It was no longer about seeing the night world as merely a festive offering, but also as part of the cultural offering. This also helped to understand the importance of maintaining these venues within the City's territory, exemplified by La Gravière, and more recently allowed the opening of Terreaux du Temple and Groove in municipal buildings.

How can these hybrid, festive, and cultural places like the Village du Soir be considered as important actors in the cultural dynamism of the canton?

I strongly believe in the links between "private" cultural actors, like the Village, and public actors. It is by converging the two that the cultural and also festive offering of the canton will shine even more. We need to build bridges, create new synergies between the different venues, for them and for the audiences! The example of "Electrofaune," a collaboration between the Geneva Chamber Orchestra, the Ballet of the Grand Théâtre, and l’Usine for a night club evening, is just one among many! We need to bring fronts closer together for the lines to move even more.


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