Culture is future » Territorial attractiveness and social cohesion

10.08.2014

Contribution: "Nuit Blanche, the made in Paris concept exported in Latin America" by Margot Beck

Is contemporary art inevitably elitist? The success of the 13th edition of the French Nuit Blanche, during which a diversified and numerous audience gathered for a nocturne urban peregrination, is seriously prejudicing this stereotype. This great example of “arty leaving together” has already been replicated all around the world:  from Brussels to Kyoto, Melbourne and La Paz, more than twenty-five cities are now organizing their own Nuit Blanche. The specific urban context of Latin America gives a new dimension to the Parisian concept. Overview of the Latin American “Noches en Blanco”.

Seven Latin American cities are already organizing their own Nuit Blanche. The first Nuit Blanche in Lima in 2008 launched a movement which has not stopped expending since then. Six cities have already replicated the event, or get ready to do so: La Paz in 2011, Belo Horizonte, La Floresta and San-José (Costa Rica) in 2012, Bogotá in 2013 and Montevideo in 2014.  Other projects are currently under preparation, such as the organization of a second Brazilian edition in Rio de Janeiro and the first Nuit Blanche in Santiago de Chile. Significant means have been invested, and the overall budget of the Nuits Blanche organized on the continent comes up to 1,7 M American dollars[1].  Close to 300 installations and performances have been made, 6 000 people got involved in the final management of the event[2], and 5 000 visitors[3] have been counted. Those figures, even if they bear no comparison with the resources of most European capital cities for such an event[4], demonstrate a strong commitment aiming at providing to the Nuit Blanche with a real impact at the local, national and continental levels, just as it is the case in Europe today.

The organizers of the Nuit Blanche in Latin American took up the challenge by associating within the frame of a network, precious to obtain and increase the legitimacy of the event in front of the governmental and municipal authorities. With politic and economical contexts plural and mainly unstable, the existence of the network Nuits Blanche América Latina offers another advantage. It facilitates the access to financing at a continental scale: international co-productions, sponsoring from private partners presents in different spots of the continent, with the aim of promoting theirs images and brand in different Latin American cities at the same time.

“Make art accessible to all, highlight the potential of urban spaces, and create an event that promote good practices and conviviality”: here is the manifest of the network Nuits Blanche América Latina, faithful to the founding principles carried out in the Parisian concept. The opening to all kind of audiences (free and open access), the multidisciplinary approach, the promotion of the potential of urban spaces, the integration of the manifestation within all the spots and places of the city, the reflection around urban issues and a better organization of living conditions in the city (economic and social organization, transportation, safety..) are the key principles of it. They take a new dimension – and a particularly important one – in the Latin American context, in relation with security and urban segregation difficulties Latin America is undergoing.

“This movement is changing positions lines, Charles Eric Tassel, coordinator of the network Nuits Blanche América Latina attests, not only for the artists, but also for producers, cultural services, audiences and municipal services. A new relation is created between the public, the artist, and the city. It has an impact on everyone’s minds.” Having working and acting together people and groups who are not used to be together, this is also the success, confirmed every year, of the Parisian experience.

More than a pretext for conviviality, this is a call to think the city over with culture

In the context of Latin America, the increasing participation of the inhabitants to the Nuit Blanche seems to anticipate an evolution towards a better integration of this transversal lever of cultural action by the local actors, and in particular the public decision makers. Indeed, not only did a great number of visitors attend the event, but they also took a chance to participate actively in the manifestation. Young artists – professionals or not - take the public spaces to share their creations with the nocturnal passengers. In Bogotá, for example, the inhabitants responded to the proposition of intervention made by the organization staff by opening their windows and showing an object, a choreography or a symbol of their identity as citizen of the city.

Some members of the network regret that contemporary art, at the heart of the Nuit Blanche concept, is now sometimes dissolved in a wide range of participative practices closer to popular cultures. But this is precisely this dynamic which incite cities to develop the Nuit Blanche as an adding value event for the city, the artists and the people who live there!

Marked with more than half a century of accelerated and sometimes violent urbanization, Latin América welcomes the Nuit Blanche not as a pretext for conviviality, but mostly like a call for all its inhabitants to think the city and its development potential over with culture. Thank you Paris for leading the way!


[1]This figure covers the management budget and the indirect real costs of the events organized in Belo Horizonte, La Paz, Bogota, Lima and La Floresta.

[2] This figure takes into account the coordination team, the production staff, the artists, the volunteers and the technical and security staff mobilized for the occasion.

[3] On October 2013

[4] In comparison, close to 1.2 million euros were invested in the 2014 edition of the Nuit Blanche in Paris.

 

Photo caption: "Rosa" de Liliana Zapata, Noche Blanca La Paz 2012