The role of arts festivals in the Eurometropolis Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai: bridging gaps in the French Belgian cross-border metropolis

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The 21th century is when the globalisation of capital has found, as of now, its pinnacle. According to Sassen (2007), this phenomenon has been responsible for the destabilisation of past scale hierarchies, previously almost totally centred at the national level, depicted by the nation state figure. The proliferation of multinational capitalist organisations with their structures based on a network of branches spread across the globe with its strategic functions concentrated in a unique place (or in just a few of them) contribute to the complexity of the world’s multiscale configuration. This dynamic that involves the global capital puts under scrutiny the autonomy and centrality of the national sphere. Hence, other forms of spatial scales may rise to a more prominent role, such as the subnational (i.e. cities; regions), cross-border regions that include two or more subnational units, and supranational entities, like global electronic markets and free trade zones (Sassen, 2007). That is the case of Eurometropolis Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai – ELKT (founded in 2008), which spans across the French-Belgian border and have been introduced in the global capital market through regional level politics, in a logic that is concomitantly transnational and subnational. To overturn the economic fortunes of a deprived region, this Eurometropolis seeks to benefit from an extremely strategic position in Europe’s geography to put itself in the spotlight for the big international private capital and investments. Thus, ELKT’s transnational governing committee has decided to make use of territorial marketing tools to promote the cross-border metropolis, investing in big cultural events and the subsequent reinvention of the region’s image: from an underprivileged and charmless former industrial site into a new cultural bustling hub, open to creative and fresh talents. The idea behind such course of action is that the region must portray an attractive image for the foreign investors amid a ‘locational war’, boosted by the new hierarchy of scales, against other subnational and transnational entities.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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