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The city as cultural ecosystem

5-8th March

Bilbao, economic capital of the Basque Country, is the centre of a metropolitan area of over one million inhabitants. It is a modern, balanced, efficient, welcoming and attractive city to live, work, invest and visit. The deep transformation of the city has changed its face, turning it into one of the leading centres for trade, tourism and culture in Europe.

The brand of Bilbao has international prestige, reputation and positioning. The inauguration of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 1997 catapulted the cultural image of the city at international level joining Bilbao to concepts such as excellence, economic activity, knowledge, technology, design, creativity... becoming a competitive metropolis in a world of cities.

Culture is recognized as a crucial multipurpose aptitude and resource as we move from a reliance onnatural to knowledge resources. The evidence shows that culture helps drive economic performance and overall well-being; it increases levels of innovation and creativity and is crucial to face globalattractiveness and competition.

As a consequence, success depends on the capacity of places to identify, nurture, harness, support, promote and orchestrate and mobilize their culturalresources. The engine for growth is the process through which an economy creates, applies and extracts value from its culture and subsequent knowledge and art.

With this aim, the Bilbao edition 2014 of the Forum d’Avignon, part of the European Project called Catalyse, is to explore the potential of cities as factories of culture, with the help of local and international public and private representatives, urban planners, artists, students... We have made a selection and includedcities that in one way or another can represent success stories of how a city becomes a factory of culture based on different resources. From this benchmarkingprocess, we will move towards how creativity can contribute

to this end with the hybridization of perspectives from artists and urban planners and finally, it will give us the opportunity to analyse in depth how in factculture can transform the cities. All this topics will be discussed in Bilbao, according to the programme below:



5 to 7 March 2014. The Forum d'Avignon Bilbao, organized by the city of Bilbao on the theme "The city as cultural ecosystem" will be multidisciplinary cultural site on the magic of AlhóndigaBilbao. It will develop the findings of the action research workshop held in Bilbao RAW March 5.



Art hybridization experiments and practice.

From mistakes to learning, a useful methodology.

New communities in artistic and social practice.

1pm      Presentation of the conclusions of RAW (Maria Mur, Maria Ptqk, Jaron Rowan).

9pm      Welcome dinner/cocktail and cultural event.


10am  Debate 1. Dialogue between what is public and private in the field of creation.

            Moderator: José Luis Rebordinos, Director of the Film Festival of San Sebastian.

            Address: Jean Blaise, Ville de Nantes, Estuaire Art Festival.


Katrín Jakobsdóttir, former Minister of Education, Science and Culture of Iceland.

Gail Lord, responsible for the Culture Programme of Chicago.

Maria MurConsonni, Bilbao.

Beatriz García, Director of Research at the University of Liverpool.

12pm   Debate 2. Artists as promoters of cultural and social change in our cities.

            Moderator: David Trueba, journalist and film director.


Vito Acconci, artist and architect from New York.

Alfonso Santiago, music promoter, Bilbao.

Joxean Muñoz, Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports of the Basque Government.

2pm     Lunch at Zorrotzaurre, Bilbao’s latest major urban regeneration operation.

4.30pm Experiences in the city: visits to different spaces in Bilbao with cultural agents.

(Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao La Vieja and Zorrotzaurre).


9am     Debate 3. Cities as a driving force for cultural change in Europe.

            Address: José Enrique Ruiz-Domènec, History Chair.


Guadalupe Echevarria, Artistic Director of Donostia 2016.

Evelyne Lehalle, Nouveau Turisme Culturel.

11.30am Debate 4. The city in progress, a future ecosystem.

               Address: Saskia Sassen, sociologist, Prince of Asturias Award 2013.


Beatriz Colomina, historian of architecture at the University of Princeton.

Cristina Iglesias, artist.

Tarek Cherkaoui, Qatar Museums Authority.

Juan Diego, BEAZ CEO, Provincial Council of Bizkaia.

1pm     Presentation of the conclusions of RAW, Forum d'Avignon Bilbao and Catalyse Project. 2.30pm Pintxo Experience in AlhóndigaBilbao.


Visits to Santander, San Sebastian or Biarritz accompanied by local agents.

(*Programme susceptible to changes)


The Forum d’Avignon Bilbao will also represent an opportunity to present the conclusions of the Research Action Week in Bilbao, that will take place on 4-5 March, as well as the Catalyse Manifesto of the partner cities in the project.

We look forward to welcoming you all in Bilbao


Venue: AlhóndigaBilbao:

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Speakers :

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•In the press : 



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