The ESPO Award 2017 will be presented to the port authority that succeeds best in the societal integration of the port with the city or wider community in which it is located, through involvement in art or culture. The five projects that are shortlisted for this year’s Award are the projects of Antwerp, Brest, Guadeloupe, Oslo and Venice.
ESPO is proud to present the shortlisted projects before the winner is announced during the official Award Ceremony at La Tentation in Brussels on 8 November 2017.
CCI Metropolitan West Brittany, operator of Port of Brest
Port Citizens – Brest: a port as a heritage
ESPO: Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2017! Could you briefly describe your project?
The project “Port Citizens, a port as a heritage” is a continuous and collective programme, engaging the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) as port operator in a set of events and projects, managed in cooperation with local and regional stakeholders of culture, art and history.
Art and culture, both in the digital and in the real world, are keys which the CCI uses to attract the attention of citizens for the port area. More than a master plan, it is a continuous engagement towards the population of the city and all the friends of the city that come and visit us.
This engagement includes:
Digital art: The CCI helps movie makers who wish to use the port as case or background of their story or documentary. With new digital formats on the internet, art opens the port to all curious visitors of YouTube through a simple computer or smartphone, from anywhere.
Music and art on the docks: Also in real life, the port is the setting of several events. Firstly, since 1982, the annual Festival of Music is being organised to celebrate the start of the summer. During this festival, the port becomes an open theatre for musicians of all kinds. Furthermore, from mid-July to mid-August, the Port Thursdays take place at the commercial Port of Brest. This free festival of music and street art is held every Thursday and gathers spectators of all ages. Thirdly, during the Heritage Days, the port opens its doors to the public to give them more insight in the history and evolution of the port. And last but not least, there is the Maritime Festival Tonnerres de Brest. This festival, which takes place every four years, gathers thousands of vessels of all kinds in the Port of Brest for a week of festival at sea. On the waterfront, the docks host ‘villages’ where exhibitors from all over the world offer pieces of their cultures, all focused on the maritime world.
Finally, the CCI aims to preserve its heritage, for example through the renovation of the old CCI building on the port’s premises, or the safeguarding and enhancement of a disarmed old crane dating back to the Marshall Plan.
(c) Côté Brest
ESPO: How does your project contribute to the societal integration of the port?
The success of the cornerstone actions is measurable by the growing number of participants of the events. A success encouraging us to pursue this strategy.
We see that the free Port Thursdays and the Music Days have a growing success with an increasing number of artists and visitors each year. Year after year, the port becomes the central place of these events. In 2017, the official programme even concentrated on the port area.
The Maritime Festivals had 800 000 visitors in 2016, 2 000 vessels and 100 themed villages explaining culture, arts, science and sea professions.
The Heritage Days are special days in the year for citizens of Brest, during which the port and its history are open to the public. The success of this event can also be measured by the growing number of participants and by the interest for the port, expressed by schools or professional organisations, also at other times than during the Heritage Days.
Considering only the YouTube databank, some 30 movies or video clips regarding the Port of Brest can be seen on the internet from a simple smartphone or computer.
ESPO: Could you describe the original and innovative character of your project?
The main originality of the project is that it’s not a punctual project with fixed plans, budget, starting and end dates, all fixed by the port authority. Instead, it is a continuous and collective programme, engaging the CCI as operator of the port in a set of yearly or punctual actions, managed in cooperation with local and regional stakeholders and actors of culture, art and history.
The strategy for all of this is to position the port as a theater and background of public events, historical visits and movies. Ports are often unconsciously considered as grey industries. But they have their charm with their cranes, docks and vessels going in and out. Festivals enhance this charm, adding social, musical and artistic dimensions to that setting, which creates a feeling of belonging to the port history and life.
The strong cooperation with the local and regional stakeholders and all those acting for a large diffusion of history, art and culture is an innovative approach to create port-centric events for the public. The idea is to give the hand to specialists of music, art and history, to organise these events in the port area. This way, the port will be associated to the festivals in people’s minds.
One of the most innovative features of the project is the use of a combination of real and digital worlds to increase the impact of the project. Digital arts, especially internet movies, create a database or digital memory, accessible to all. They allow people to discover historical moments of the port life, including festivals. They can discover beautiful, artistic views of the port area, produced by individuals, i.e. the port citizens.
ESPO: Why do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2017?
Our project demonstrates that with a dose of heritage mixed with today’s digital reality, ports can become central places for social, artistic or historical events while the question of the port-city relationship, first raised in the 2000s, is still a concern.
More than anywhere, the Port of Brest partners with local and regional actors to host cultural events attracting a large audience. The diversity of these events characterises the Port of Brest (music, films, street animations, nautical events) and the use of digital technologies creates an online memory of these events.
ESPO: How would you make your experience in developing the project available to others?
Since any artistic and cultural project may create difficulties and the experience of others must always be considered, our idea would be to form a permanent exchange group between the ports concerned, allowing us to exchange in the preparation and during of our social events and projects.
“Brest, a port as a heritage! More than a master plan, it is a continuous engagement, a duty towards our port citizens, as tenant of their port.”
Mériadec LE MOUILLOUR, General Manager of CCI Metropolitan West Brittany, Port of Brest