Photo: Fabrice Gaboriau

Ongoing project

Art-Sport: Network, Territories Saint-Denis (FR)

A participatory artistic process to co-create hybrid artistic and sports forms that connect, empower and activate the local community in the run-up to the Paris Olympic Games in 2024, using the Games as a lever for social, cultural and territorial transformation.

In 2024, France will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Paris’ bid was built on a promise of transformation and inclusion, with a significant legacy component for the benefit of the districts hosting the Games – particularly Seine-Saint-Denis, a county northwest of Paris with more than 1.5 million residents and a popular, working-class tradition, marked today by strong inequalities, rapid gentrification, the presence of a young population and numerous local initiatives.

The districts hosting the Games aim to set an example and embody it through policies, commitments and investment in equipment, infrastructure and major events. The Art-Sport initiative is pragmatic and experimental, and aims at social, cultural and spatial innovation during the Games and beyond in order to benefit local communities in Seine-Saint-Denis and boost citizen action.

Team Saint-Denis represents a specific territorial approach, capable of connecting the needs of residents on the neighborhood scale with the more global approach of the county council to influence public policies.

The team is developing the art-sport initiative through two complementary strands: an art-sport network, through which they identify and bring out projects that intersect the fields of art and sport and link them together; and local labs, involving space for experimentation where dynamic activities are initiated by a diverse group of actors.

Art-sport network & labs makes the most of this Olympic context to raise questions, highlight and tackle social and political issues: the appropriation of public space, the place of young people within it, the relationship to the body, gender and minorities, competition, and local practices.

Art-sport network & labs has an effect on the inequalities observed on the territory. It promotes specific groups, particularly young people, women and social workers. This is done through workshops and collective creations that challenge the usual hierarchies. The approach also widens connections: it offers a place to each of the groups involved by allowing them to represent themselves and on behalf of others. Through artistic creation, it enables each person to speak in an assembly. In this way, it is possible to represent the positions of each person in these projects of urban transformation at work, and to address what is in conflict.

Finally, the art-sport approach explores the “rights to the city” – in other words, the city as a common good accessible to all. This appropriation of public and symbolic spaces is continually developed through workshops, itineraries, collective and documentary creations in the different neighborhoods.

Activities are carried out at different scales to act both on the local needs of actors and inhabitants, especially young people, but also to advance the exchange of experiences and the co-production of knowledge of the art-sport network, both in Saint-Denis and across Europe. These include performances and games in public spaces, as well as local art-sport encounters shared via video conference across Europe.

As part of the Actors of Urban Change program, Team Saint-Denis aims for an European extension of the art-sport program, g a developing strategic partnerships with partners working in territories that have experienced an Olympic and Paralympic context, such as Athens, Barcelona, Berlin and London.