Mons 2015 finally settles at “106”

  • The European Capital of Culture teams finally found a home.
  • “106” is one of Mons 2015’s thirteen large sites.

The locals are continuing to ask lots of questions about Mons 2015, and although it may not seem like it, the planned European Capital of Culture has begun to take shape. Two of those questions received answers on Saturday at the inaugural ceremony of the Mons 2015 Foundation’s official headquarters.

Where? The teams finally have an official home appropriate to the size of the project: 106 rue de Nimy, but it’s hip to say simply “106.”  The 17th century town house has long been home to the Fine Arts Academy. The K2A architectural firm restored the building’s main part and added a contemporary wing. The metallic netting on the building’s façade is already being talked about. Its nickname was being used Saturday night – the toaster. The place is already popular.

When? That’s the day’s other news. The official launch date of Mons 2015 will be January 24 of that year, even if organizers tried to play with the calendar at first, opting for December 2014. What can we expect? That’s a mystery at this stage, but the “big party” theme has already been set. Despite the fact that the season is usually not good for outdoor events, the city’s streets should be full. This weekend, Yves Vasseur talked about a “dazzling, warm, and light-filled celebration,” which will be a good thing in the middle of winter.

Quite a few other questions are still making the rounds among the people of Mons, who came out in large numbers for “106’s” inauguration, a €4.5 million project funded by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and the European Union through ERDF funds.

What? The programming will be revealed bit by bit, which is frustrating to many people. The objective is most likely to save the best surprise for example, for the opening day. The themes are already known: Van Gogh, Verlaine and the myth of Saint George. For the rest, more plans are being made, and partners are being mobilized in Mons and everywhere else. Be patient. Le Soir readers will be well informed because the Rossel group and this newspaper are official partners in the event.

Why? Is this amount of spending acceptable during the economic crisis? That’s the question that irritates the local authorities. The government is investing over €50 million, and “106” is one of thirteen sites more or less tied to Mons 2015. However, two million visitors are expected, with the resulting economic impact. “106,” renovated museums and reinvented sites will continue to be used after 2015. “This adventure is a city project,” insists Elio Di Rupo, the honorary mayor.

Culture minister Fadila Laanan (PS) shares her conviction: “Support for Mons 2015 has been criticized, but it’s clear, transparent, and in proportion. You can’t do this kind of project halfway. It’s an enormous opportunity for all French-speaking artists.”

The ultimate question: what’s next? The Andy Warhol exhibit begins in October, at the renovated Fine Arts Museum of Mons. It’s a sort of dress rehearsal before the arrival of Vincent Van Gogh.




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