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Esch2022 hands the torch to PRO-SUD

The title year of the European Capital of Culture has come to an end. The Esch2022 project is now to be carried on by the municipalities of the PRO-SUD syndicate and the French municipalities of the CCPHVA (Communauté de Communes Pays Haut Val d’Alzette).

One month after officially closing the first chapter of the European Capital of Culture Esch2022 on 22 December 2022, the torch was handed over today by the Capitale européenne de la culture 2022 asbl to the Luxembourg and French municipalities which have shared the title of European Capital of Culture 2022. The event at “L’Arche” in Villerupt, a building that was completed and inaugurated in the framework of Esch2022, has highlighted the continuity of the long-term Esch2022 project, which aims, among other things, to continue and strengthen the inter-municipal and cross-border cooperation in the South of Luxembourg and the East of France both now and in the future.

While culture has been and continues to be the driving force, the project also has an economic dimension. In the morning, the municipal leaders first came together in non-public workshops where they discussed common routes on four main topics: Joint Communication, Tourism and Mobility, Culture as well as Sustainable Development. During these workshops, they shared their experiences of working together in the past few years and put down ideas on how they can continue to jointly shape the future of the cross-border region.

“I hope that the work we have initiated together with the municipalities and many hundreds of project partners from the Esch2022 region, along with ministries, sponsors, associations and volunteers across national borders, with great dedication and passion, will now be continued in a purposeful and effective way,” says Nancy Braun, Director General of Esch2022. “Our mission of writing the first chapter of the Esch2022 project is complete. Now the second chapter has to be filled with life by others and everyone has to take their share of responsibility, including the citizens, because the project can only live on if people continue to work together.”

Since 2019, the Esch2022 team has worked with partners in Luxembourg and abroad to make the Esch2022 title year both cooperative and sustainable. The first milestone of this mission was to develop and strengthen the Esch2022 region. Today’s handover of this mission to the 19 municipalities marks the second milestone. On behalf of the municipalities, the two presidents of the respective associations – Georges Mischo for the PRO-SUD syndicate and Patrick Risser for the CCPHVA – pledged to carry on the legacy. The Grand Est Region also attended the event and assured its continued support. Symbolically, a sculpture by the Lorraine artist Marie Flambard was presented.

The city of Esch-sur-Alzette and all the municipalities of the Esch2022 region have made major investments in order to be able to guarantee a sustainable success of the project in the coming years, according to the criteria set by the European Commission. One of the biggest goals was to put our region, its actors and its cultural offer on the national but also international cultural map, and I think we all succeeded“, explains Georges Mischo, President of the PRO-SUD Syndicate. “We now need to continue this energy, this spirit, and strengthen the region in a sustainable way – on an inter-municipal and cross-border level; this is very important to me as president, and I speak on behalf of all Luxembourgish municipalities in the South. How do we want to achieve this? Together!”

It is clear that Esch2022 was the opportunity for us to show that a small territory of about 30,000 inhabitants can eventually exist in a much more complex context. We have people here who are interested and engaged in both cultural and cross-border issues. At the moment, Esch2022 is for me the most important project that is truly cross-border. And if we have succeeded in the field of culture, I am convinced that we will succeed in other fields as well,” says Patrick Risser, president of the CCPHVA.

The new cultural spaces created in the framework of Esch2022, which are located in restored or converted buildings, will continue to offer cultural programmes on many occasions in the future. The so-called “Tiers lieux culturels” are designed to bring culture closer to the people by complementing the offer of traditional institutions such as museums and theatres. This is a goal that Esch2022 has achieved through the creation of new venues or by giving a new use to already existing locations in many municipalities on both sides of the border. Esch2022 has re-imagined traditional festivals and celebrations, which will continue to reflect the spirit of the European Capital of Culture project in the future. History as well as stories were made accessible in a completely new way and “remixed” with digital technologies, innovative storytelling or the cooperation with new partners and local artists. These will still be accessible and further developed in the future.

Every month during the past year, the programme put the focus on several municipalities in the cross-border region. During the “Passage de flambeau”, the reigning “Municipalities of the Month” passed on the title to the next one. This series was concluded by today’s handover in Villerupt. Symbolically, each community was presented with a piece of the artwork created during the closing event of Esch2022 on December 22, 2022. Just as each of these parts is unique, so is each municipality. And in their totality, they form a new “whole”.