After four years of development, the Arab World Institute’s sister institute in the Hauts-de-France region is ready to introduce a new dimension and become a major cultural actor in the region.
With the enthusiastic support of the Hauts-de-France Region, the European Metropolis of Lille, and the Cities of Tourcoing and Roubaix, the Arab World Institute has established its first sister institute in the former Tourcoing Swimming Pool.
In the intervening period before the inauguration of the building, scheduled for autumn 2016, a series of concerts, conferences, and educational initiatives will be held during the spring and provide various opportunities to discover, admire, and understand the cultures of the contemporary Arab world.
This ambitious project, which will eventually include a language centre, a permanent collection, a documentation centre, and a programme of major exhibitions, concerts, conferences, and educational initiatives, will be implemented on a magnificent, central, and historical site: the former Tourcoing Swimming Pool. Upon the proposal of the City of Tourcoing and with the support of all of the project’s institutional partners, this site—a stakeholder in the collective identity of the territory—will be renovated and provide the AWI with the necessary surface area to pursue its activities.
The first phase of this rehabilitation will enable the AWI Tourcoing to implement, as of the autumn of 2016, part of its activities in a place that embraces dialogue and the world. However, the aim of all these activities, as has been the case up until now, is to have an influence over the entire region, in particular over the metropolitan area. Part of the programme will remain extra muros in order to pursue the work carried out with the general public and consolidate the links forged with the region’s cultural, associative, educative, and economic actors.
The AWI’s aim is to integrate itself into a cultural fabric that is already benefitting from various initiatives, thereby highlighting the cultures of the Arab world and promoting understanding and dialogue between the two shores of the Mediterranean. At the same time, the AWI’s sister institute will have an appropriate form of governance whose set-up will promote synergies with the cultural effervescence that animates the metropolis and the region. Hence, acting as an autonomous and unique entity, the AWI, all the local partners of the project, and various qualified figures will set out the main outlines of the Institut’s cultural policy within a Public Interest Group (PIG).
As demonstrated over the last four years and by the incredible success of the events (a hundred or so events that were attended by almost 30,000 people), the establishment of the AWI’s sister site makes sense in a region enriched by its cultural diversity and the desire of its inhabitants to (re)discover, understand, and admire the cultures of the Arab world. The regional branch now has all the necessary resources to achieve the goals the AWI set itself more than twenty-five years ago: namely to highlight the wealth, pertinence, and universal contributions of these cultures, in a spirit of mutual respect and secularity.