- How was the ACT project born?
Rose Bardonnet Lowry: At the beginning of 2011, Arie van Beek took up his post as the new musical director of Orchestre de Picardie. His artistic projects and his programming ideas required an artistic staff that we could not provide (with our 37 permanent musicians) and financial means that exceeded our self-financing capacity. To see these projects through, I decided to establish another European network, turned towards England and its fantastic artistic resource in the field of choirs.
In July 2011, on the basis of the territorial objectives and of the activities envisaged, I called this new network "ACT - A common Territory".
- How did you choose the 13 partners?
The initial group stemmed from existing co-operations between Orchestre de Picardie, Purcell Singers, Brighton Festival Chorus and Cie ECO/Emilio Calcagno.
I then suggested partners or colleagues to share that adventure: Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie, Orchestre de Bretagne and Comédie de Picardie. Finally, several English cultural stakeholders joined the network because they wanted to take part in a European project, and ACT was providing a complementary high-quality cultural offer: University for the Creative Arts, Royal Opera House Education, Southend YMCA, Gateway Learning Academy and Thurrock Music Services. The latest newcomer, Melbourn Village College, joined the network after having been contacted by us.
- What is their common point?
All the partners are fuelled with the same desire to co-operate with stakeholders across the Channel so as to implement activities on a scale exceeding their own capacities, with the purpose of enriching either the target audiences of such activities (youth experiencing social difficulties, students, regular and occasional audiences, etc.) or their own staff (musicians, teachers, administrative officers, etc.)
- Did this European financing allow to create some original projects that could have not existed without it?
Absolutely! None of the projects proposed under the framework of the ACT network could have taken place in their current dimension without this INTERREG financing. Indeed, this programme aims at funding the cross-border aspect of the activities being implemented, and it is precisely such cost which blocks stakeholders when they do not benefit from this European support.
- What are the main obstacles to build a "Europe of culture”?
The main obstacle seems to be the European policy as a whole. Despite declarations of good intentions (in particular with the European Cultural Agenda or the signing of the UNESCO Agreement in 2005), culture is becoming less and less present in the European funding programmes. Cultural stakeholders must be highly motivated and flexible in order to find other "entry points" into the European programmes. For instance, ACT proposes numerous activities related to the transmission of knowledge and to awareness-raising so as to change how people view culture, while meeting the criteria of the "INTERREG IV A France (Channel) – England.
- What results do you expect by the end of the ACT project in 2015?
A successful implementation of the scheduled actions and a good harmony between the partners so as to be envisage a continuation of the ACT network!