Belleville is a neighbourhood located in the north of Paris, it has a very strong identity despite of the Gentrification process that is suffering. This strength is due to the presence of a huge culture network. This culture development is consequence of a common project built by the Atelier d´Artistes de Belleville Association (AAB)
The AAB was founded in 1989 by a collective of artists and associations of the neighbourhood, right now it has 250 members, 20 associations and 130 artist studios. All these members are working in the same project: they work together to create a new urban image, to preserve Belleville´s identity through defending their creative scenarios and to reclaim the importance of the artist´s work and the cultural richness of Belleville.
Belleville is a class-working neighborhood of Paris, located in the 20th district . With a central location and a good link with the city center despite of being isolated from Paris for years. In order to reach a general understanding of its historical evolution context I made this chronogram:
This neighbourhood is victim of the Gentrification. In 1860 it was included as a new district for Paris due to Haussmann´s reform. It was a marginalized place because it was an industrial and working-class village. When this hood was included in the plan of Paris most of the artists saw this place as an opportunity to place their activity. They decided to install there because the rents were lower, many empty buildings, empty plots… they colonized this spaces. Also the immigrants chose this neighborhood due to the low rents. From 1853 to 1870 the population increased from 45.000 inhabitants to 100.000 inhabitants. During this time Belleville was the center of the squat movement in Paris , immigrants were invading this neighborhood … But at the same time Paris was growing, and at the end Belleville´s hood was part of the city center with an strategic site. So the City Council decided to make a Plan d´amenagement urbain (urban renewal) in order to augment the presence of gentrifiers. One of the main clauses of this project was dismantling the presence of artists.
The artists didn’t agree with this situation and they founded the Association d´Ateliers d´Artistes of Belleville. All the artists and associations of the neighbourhood, in that moment ,decided to work together to support the presence of arts in this area. At 1989 they were 10 artists and today they are more than 250 artists.
Also the immigration is present in this neighbourhood. The most representative communities are the chinese , the jews, the Maghrebi and the african . In this neighborhood all the communities coexist and also generate a cultural richness. They share their streets and public spaces also, with old French people who have been living there for years and are part of the ancient generations of Bellevilloises. Also this area is one of the poorest neighbourhood of Paris, it has the highest unemployment rate.
The last years , the young population is increasing due to the cultural ambiance of this hood and its attractive location. They are called bobos by the French people : bourgeois-bohèmes: they are young people of upper middle class that are attracted by the artists movements and the multi-ethnic character, they are searching a new type of conviviality far from the traditional Paris. This new group of population is increasing also due to the presence of new facilities such as the Architecture School of Belleville.
This neighborhood is victim of the Gentrification. In 1860 it was included as a new district for Paris due to Haussmann´s reform. It was a marginalized place because it was an industrial and working-class village. When this neighbourhood was included in the plan of Paris most of the artists saw this place as an opportunity to place their activity. They decided to install there because the rents were lower, many empty buildings, empty plots… they colonized this spaces. But this residing areas were endangered by a proposed redevelopement and urban renewal . That was the origin of local activism driven by the artists.
The artists didn’t agree with this situation and they founded the Association d´Ateliers d´Artistes of Belleville. All the artists and associations of the neighbourhood decided to work together to support their presence and the weight of arts in this area. At 1989 they were 10 artists and today they are more than 250 artists and associations. The interest here is to understand which are the relations between the artists and the scenarios that they choose (ateliers, squats, public spaces…)specially those who are linked with the neighborhood and their interventions. They work with a transversal knowledge and create an urban activism to create an strong identity of Belleville through art and also create a new contemporary urban model. This artists movement wont be possible if the neighbors of Belleville dindn´t participate.
Now, the Atelier d Artistes de Belleville is conformed by 250 artists and 20 collectives or associations. The association began with 4 members , its evolution is due to their guidelines which are these ones:
a)Membership: How to become a member of this association.
To become a member you must be a developer of an artistic activity such as sculpture, painting, video, ceramics… who live or work in Belleville.
To inscribe yourself in the association for the first time you have to send a dossier with your works and fill a questionnaire.
Terms of the members:
– Be related with other members. Work together, connected works…
– Participate in artistic projects.
– Doing international exchanges with other artists.
– to get involved in the association´s life.
-To expose when is the day of open doors.
– Participate in the web of the association, is their personal space to show their work, latest news.
All the members have the obligation of working in it and participating in punctual tasks in order to their availability. This association works properly because of the creation of networks, the exchange between members is the reason why this project grows.
The association is not for profits, not independent , it rents offices and locals and only employs two persons to take care of the events coordination and association activities.
The quotes of their members, the participation of them in different tasks and all the artists objects that they sell, allows the association to get financed in the 50% and be economically independent. Also, the association gets financed with personal objects that they generate such as notebooks, posters, pencils…and they have a number of locals spread in the neighborhood that they rent them in order to expose works of other artists.
They work with a model of economy of exchange: in the open doors journey the artists must pay in kind with an art format of 20×20 cm that will be exposed during the open doors journey and will be a donative to put it on sale for the prize of 45€.
They have a reduction of taxes only since 2011.This association was declared of general interest in 2011 so right now they have a reduction of their taxes ( in consummation beings, locals…). Also, they are supported by sponsors: shops, restaurants, public institutions, the city council of Paris, Le Saf (Societé des auteurs des arts visuels de l´imaginative) …
c) Participation in the urban image:
The presence of this cultural network is present in the urban image. Its influence gives a particular identity to Belleville, it makes the distinction between other neighborhoods of Paris. The artists and the neighbors were against the image of the typical development that was having the urban context in Paris, they didn´t want Belleville to become a “landscape of power”. So, they decided to appropriate the public space. They invade facades , squares, empty plots, locals… One of the most particular places of Belleville is the Rue Denoyez: this street is a free street, the city council cannot make any intervention here or proposal, is a street ran only by artists who have their workshops there and neighbors. Also, many artistic expositions are made in the public spaces. One of the latest expositions was “La ville en rose” where many workshops worked together to show which parts of Belleville are present in Edith Piaf´s life.
d) Creating relevant events
Creating relevant events for the neighborhood strengths identity. They have created the open doors journey and have participated in an artistic Biennale in 2012. To participate in the open doors journey you must have available a place to expose in Belleville (the exposition will take place in 5 days).If you are not artist of Belleville they will lend you a rent space where you can expose your work, a space that owns the association.vAll the artists should participate also in a main exposition located in the association headquarter. They also participate in the main Belleville´s celebrations.
This an exemplar project because it has a cultural, social, environmental and economic strength , that’s why we should learn about it.
The main goal of this project is the diffusion of culture and creating networks of knowledge through culture. Thanks to the AAB Belleville´s neighborhood is an incubator of many artistic movements of different disciplines. The cultural richness is due to the cultural diversity (different nationalities) that is present in this neighborhood. The project uses the culture as a motor for life for the neighborhood.
The AAB works with many other associations of the neighborhood in order to change people´s mind about their relationship with objects. This association promotes new type of behavior through reusing objects and spaces (their own workshops) to reactivate a neighborhood. They promote this dynamic in all social groups.
This project involves all the neighbors and using art as an “excuse” they establish new relationships. The exchange across culture favors the social integration of immigrants and other marginalized collectives. Also the AAB works with other associations, defending that associative structures work and they should be the main actors in the neighborhood´s life. They try to build a new identity of this hood through the coexistence.
New gestion models are being raised. This model is based on different values from the rest of the city of Paris. They introduce an economy based on the exchange of knowledge and skills. Also, an economy based on exchange of objects. These new economy has favored the development of a new identity of the neighbourhood : the shops and restaurants include dynamics of economical exchange between associations or shops ran by foreign people that give the neighborhood an exotic identity. From the AAB, was created an economical dynamic ran by the neighborhood life and those visitants that are attracted by a new answer of reality management.
This project is an example of a new development of an economic, cultural and social network that is growing each year. Using a cultural matter as a project origin is something that made powerful the proposal and that we should learn about. But economic matters are present and the AAB have to deal with the city council´s rules. Many workshops were occupied in a squat way and now that doesn´t work anymore, it would be better if the city council gets involved with the association in order to provide places for creation.
Ateliers d´artistes de Belleville http://ateliers-artistes-belleville.fr/en/; Text the Pioneers of gentrification http://metropoles.revues.org/1972 ; Mairie de Paris culture brief of Belleville ; Mairie de Paris “Les acteurs du forum Belleville Partici-passion”; http://www.parisianlocal.com/project/artists-workshops-in-belleville/ ; Thesis of Belleville´s university: “Se partager l´espace urbain” GRAVEREAU, Sophie
Presentation slides http://issuu.com/lolahoya/docs/presentaci__n1