From 5-17 January 2022, officials and representatives from the town of Saint-Esprit in Martinique visited four CCRs to explore the concept of the CCR, examine the institutional and legal aspects, and discover the innovative activities in outreach work and in artistic and cultural education (EAC).
The tour of CCRs started in Benin at the recently labelled CCRI John Smith
in Ouidah. The Martinique delegation followed a busy four-day programme that included visits, workshops and work sessions. They were also able to immerse themselves in the workings of the centre and attend events including the opening of the international fair of books and heritage, the preview of a new photographic exhibition and the final of the CCRI-BENINLIVRES best reader competition.
Finally, the delegates were able to observe the preparations for the annual Festival of Voodoo Arts and Cultures (10 January), which celebrates the deities who are very important in Beninese culture and especially in Ouidah. The group met with sacred music groups and left Ouidah on the eve of the festival, which opened with a voodoo ritual paying tribute to slaves.
The next destination was the Maison Maria Casarès
, where Johanna Silberstein, co-director and actor, welcomed the group with a tour of the work site and explained the problems of undertaking work in a historic monument. Discussions continued over a meal showcasing the local gastronomy – another part of the centre’s activity, alongside theatre – and a presentation of the project, which provided the delegates with food for thought in relation to a future cultural centre in Martinique.
Next on the agenda was Charité sur Loire, where the group met with the mayor before visiting the Cité du mot, prieuré de la Charité
. Its director, Philippe Le Moine, spoke about the origins of the project. The group was accompanied for this part of the tour by Odile Pradem-Faure, déléguée générale of the ACCR.
The tour ended at the Chartreuse de Villeneuve lez Avignon
, where the delegates met its director, Marianne Clévy, as well as Michel Wolkowitsky, director of the Abbaye de Sylvanès, to hear two perspectives on running a CCR.
This final part of the tour was particularly focused on artist residencies and support for artists, and was an opportunity for the Chartreuse to demonstrate its interest in welcoming creatives from the French overseas territories.