Ref. :  000000059
Date :  2001-01-23
Language :  English
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The parc de la Villette: Garden of cultures

The old slaughterhouses of La Villette, at the crossroads of Paris' 19th district and the Seine-Saint-Denis suburban city limits, have made space for a one of a kind complex which uniquely associates nature, architecture, leisure activities and culture.
With 35 hectares of lawns and gardens stretching from the Maison de la Villette in the north to the Grande Halle in the south, the Parc de la Villette is the vastest park in all of Paris.
At the edge of the city and the suburbs, mixing places for leisure activities, expositions, shows and public debates, the Park forms a laboratory environment of cultural democratization where arts and society interact together.
Every year the Park welcomes more than 4 million visitors!

The Parc de la Villette and it's Missions

Since it's creation in 1993, the Etablissement Public du Parc and the Grande Halle de la Villette have brought to life the concept of a cultural urban park which has progressively taken shape in North East Paris. It's growing success with visitors and the interest that it sparks with professionals in France and abroad, show that it's experiment dives right to the heart of today's social and political issues. What is the role of art and culture in the construction of new ways to be and live together? In our day, what types of urban set -up allow the city to once again become a "City," a welcoming meeting place and melting pot of citizenship.
In the face of such questions, "Le Parc de La Villette" has based its efforts on the principles of openness and experimentation.

-no gates, no borders, nor closing of the Park at sunset
-adaptability of programming spaces
-multidisciplinary in it's cultural offerings
-Broad diversity of leisure and cultural activities
-welcome and accompaniment of a very diverse public

The Parc de la Villette has organized its two missions in elaborating upon these core principles.

- The maintenance and safety were well thought out in order to leave visitors the most freedom possible while also respecting a wide variety of activities. There is no permanent appropriation of a particular space by one group or one activity here. This golden rule, associated with heavy surveillance by security staff allows everyone including tourists, local youth, exposition and show attendees, and also families to feel at home at la Villette;

The cultural programming weaves new connections between arts, cultures, and society through several axes:

the renewal of popular arts; the circus, cabarets, street performances, movies, puppet shows are all presented in contemporary forms.

the recognition of new forms of expression, like hip hop (dance, rap, tag, slam...)

attention to the issues of society, notably by the expositions that are devoted to them: intolerance, war, environment...

the discovery of other cultures through their works and their creators, be they plastic arts, musicals, theatrical...


1 - The expositions

From the start, the expositions were a strong element in La Villette's program schedule. Inherited or not, the expositions organized in the Grande Halle recreate spectacular spaces where the public crosses different performances and scenes which are sometimes interactive. The Pavillon Paul Delouvrier and la Maison de la Villette welcome expositions oriented toward world cultures or toward issues of society.

1988 Cités Cinés (Grande Halle):150 film clips and life-size settings tell the story about the close link that unites cinema to the city.

1989 Les magiciens de la terre (Grande Halle and Centre Pompidou)
First global contemporary art expo reuniting artists from Occidental Europe and North America (mostly recognized artists) and African, Chinese, Australian, Mexican- all unknown.

1991 Opéra Bulles (Grande Halle) :A life-size voyage into the universe of comic strips.

1994 On a retrouvé le trésor du San Diego(Grande Halle):The story of the Spanish galleon discovered off the Philippines.

1995 Il était une fois la fête forain 1850-1950 ( Grand Halle):A collection of old merry-go-rounds (carousels) and fairground art pieces and objects reunited for the first time.

1995 Tibet, la roue du temps: pratique du Mandala

1996 Peinture de sable des indiens Navajo: la voix de la beauté

1997 Peintres aborigènes d'Australie
During these three expositions (in the Pavillon Delouvrier), Tibetan monks, Navajo Indians and Australian Aborigines were invited to La Villette to share their cultures, their beliefs and their customs through ephemeral paintings

1998 Trop de peines- Femmes en prison(Maison de la Villette):More than a just simple photo expo, a real witness account of the daily life of women deprived of freedom (photography by Jane Evelyn Atwood).

1989 Un voyage pas comme les autres (under the big top)
Organized by 10 humanitarian associations, this interactive exposition offers the visitor a chance to enter into the skin of a refugee, starting from the moment where he leaves his country up to his arrival or forced return by the host country.

1999 Le Jardin Planétaire(Grande Halle):The Grande Halle is transformed into a giant greenhouse to treat the relationship of Man and Nature.

2 - The Festivals

Four festivals give rhythm to the seasons at the Parc de la Villette. These regular meetings in the program schedule let you depart in the discovery of another country or culture through their music, movies, dance, theatre...

- Latitudes Villette
Every year in spring, the Grande Halle is transformed to welcome a country, a continent, a culture. Concerts, movies, shows, expositions, shops, gastronomy, debates...offering the visitor a voyage and discovery in a festive spirit.
Since the year 2000, this festival known as Villette Latitudes is put on in co-production with the Cité de la musique.

1994 La Route tsigane
The journey of the Tsigane people from India to Spain, told in music, dance, theatre and stories.

1995 Afrique du sud, musiques de liberté
Concerts, movies, expositions, dance...a cultural richness, which finally expresses itself outside its borders.

1996 Le Printemps Celte
From Brittany to Ireland in passing by Galicia, this event expresses and exposes Celtic culture.

1997 Ouaga - Carthage
Movies, concerts and arts and crafts celebrate the African continent.

1998 Rythmes Caraïbes
Haïti, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Jamaica...all the diversity of the music of the Caribbean.

2000 Latitudes Villette/ Brésil
In collaboration with the Cité de la Musique, two weekends to explore all the facets of Brazilian music. In 2001, India will be honored for the second edition of Latitudes Villette.

- Villette Jazz Festival
Created in 1988, the Villette Jazz Festival is an internationally acclaimed event put on in co-production with the Cité de la musique. Every summer, it welcomes more than 300 musicians giving 50 some concerts and master classes. Stars and new discoveries, huge concerts or club concerts, open-air concerts and free concerts attract an eclectic crowd.

- Le Festival du Cinéma en plein air (The open air film festival)
Every year since 1989, the Prairie du Triangle has welcomed the open air Festival du Cinéma. At nightfall, thousands of moviegoers set themselves up as they like directly on the grass field or they rent garden chairs and blankets for the evening. Around a given theme (western, dangerous liaisons, the hidden side of the city, water...) forty to fifty films are projected every season onto a giant 26 meter screen. People come to the show with their families, alone, or with a group of friends and take advantage of the mild evenings to picnic, meet new people, or to celebrate a birthday in this funny "movie theatre" with a star-filled ceiling...

- Les Rencontres: cultures urbaines et nouvelles initiatives artistiques (Encounters: urban cultures and new artistic initiatives)
Following the success of the "Rencontres Nationales de Danses Urbaines" focused on the hip-hop movement, the Parc de la Villette is developing the concept with the "Rencontres des Cultures Urbaines" which opens itself to new artistic expressions be they theatrical, musical, expositions, movies, or multimedia. This openness is accompanied by an international dimension, notably in dance with the presence of (side by side with the French companies) talents like Black Blanc Beur, Aktuel Force, Käfig, Accrorap..., of foreign choreographers such as Storm (Berlin), Rennie Harris (Philadelphia) or even Mister Wiggles, Poppin' Taco and Sugar Pop (Los Angeles).
In the extension of the event, the Parc de la Villette and the Fondation de France support the creation of hip hop companies by the intermediary of a structure named "initiatives d'artistes en danses urbaines." It's role is to contribute to the awareness of urban dance and to participate in their promotion in the landscape of contemporary choreographic creation.

3- The Circus

In the framework of it's policy of renewal of the popular arts, the Parc de la Villette schedules circus shows throughout the year. In this approach, the companies substitute one another in one unique show featuring a succession of acts in a global spectacle including a number with the entire group where traditional circus acts cross with theatre, musical creation and dance.
Every year, the Centre National des Arts du Cirque (CNAC) presents it's annual show of a performer who has just achieved three years of study. Parallel to this, the Park hosts or co-produces the shows of different companies like the Cirque Plume(3 creations at La Villette), Les Art Sauts(2 creations at La Villette), Cirque Ici, Que-Cir-Que.

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