Assisting design, web and fashion entrepreneurs, helping to locate and obtain funding … this is the role of the Cluster, Quartier de la Création (the Creative Arts District) at Nantes. A quick look at this booming neighbourhood.
Surrounded by the arms of the Loire, the Creative Arts District faces downtown Nantes. This former industrial area of 15 hectares on the île de Nantes was once the Dubigeon shipyards. When they closed in 1980, the city of Nantes undertook an extensive study that led to it putting contemporary art and culture at the heart of urban renewal.
A contemporary identity
The transformation began with the festival des Allumés in 1990 and the creation of the theatre group Royal de Luxe. Architects and Planners (Perrault, Grether, Chemetoff, Nouvel, Smets, Dupuydt, Azzi) are given the task of re-considering the Loire and contribute in defining the identity of this new territory. Les Machines de l’île join the Elephant, buildings with contemporary architecture like the Manny building or la Maison de l’Avocat (solicitors chambers) take root. The goal is to bring people to this abandoned island’s peak. Creatives and start-ups begin to work in the old factory abandoned by Alstom.
La Fabrique & the Elephant
A concentrated ecosystem on the île de Nantes
Over the years, a true ecosystem dedicated to cultural and creative industries has come to life in the heart of the île de Nantes. In addition to media, small creative digital design businesses as well as fashion and artists’ studios and institutions of higher education have settled here, as has the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’architecture (national superior school of architecture), graphic art school and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (Fine Art School) in 2014.
College of Fine Arts – scheduled to open in 2014
Today the Creative Arts District is both this concentration of cultural and creative industries (arts, video, design, architecture, publishing, fashion, …) but also a cluster around which all creative initiatives from other districts in Nantes and even further, gravitate. “The main challenge of this cluster is to promote cultural and creative businesses so that they fertilize the industrial sectors, in a collaborative project framework, in this way creation contributes to the development of our territory, it creates jobs,” said Jean-Luc Charles, General Director of Samoa.
5,600 jobs in the field of cultural and creative industries
Two new places dedicated to creation opened in late 2011 close to the Alstom building, La Fabrique, this space is dedicated to electronic and digital music and provides a training and co-working space, and Karting, where some 50 small creative businesses and 100 people have found their place in a warehouse. Nantes now has 5,600 jobs in the field of cultural and creative industries, an increase of 200% since 1982.
The city has positioned itself as a hub for local innovation at a European level. Le Quartier de la Création has integrated the network ECIA – European Creative Industries Alliance – and as such is responsible to the European Commission on the “economic benefits of creative industries” in traditional industry, health or new technologies.
Nantes wasn’t born as a creative city, but its foundations allow local artists to experiment and take possession of the city.
© Jean-Dominique Billaud