ARIA is situated at Pioggiola, in the Giussani valley in northern Corsica. The organisation has developed the cultural project ‘Theatre & Nature’, designated a Heritage Site for Culture (CCR) in 2021.
THE HERITAGE SITE
In the north-west of Corsica, at the heart of the Regional National Park, lies the Giussani valley. The valley encompasses four communes, Mausoleo, Olmi-Cappella, Pioggiola and Vallica, which extend over an area of 101,19 km². The valley is surrounded by a ring of mountain peaks, several of which are over 2,000 metres, and is covered with forests of green and white oak trees (Quercus), chestnut (Castanae) and Corsican pine (Pinus negra laricio).
The valley is home to two remarkable buildings. The first is the imposing Battaglini at Olmi Cappella, constructed at the request of a former resident who, having made their fortune in Egypt, bequeathed the money to the village to build a secular mixed school, which opened in 1903. The other is the modern theatre building A Stazzona (the Forge) in Pioggiola, which is in the form of a huge wooden cube that sits perfectly within its environment. This flexible, well-equipped space can meet all the demands of high-level professional theatrical training and performance. These two buildings, reflecting two architectural periods, are emblematic of the valley and are both linked to the activities of ARIA.
THE CULTURAL PROJECT
ARIA (Association des Rencontres Internationales Artistiques – Association of International Artistic Encounters) was created in 1998 on the initiative of Robin Renucci to support cultural and artistic activities at the heart of a rural region that was previously lacking in cultural infrastructure.
Training – Education – Creation
From the beginning, ARIA has developed an ambitious programme of theatrical training and performance, based on internships in theatre production (conceived as part of its activities in public education) and the decentralisation of theatrical activity that motivated ARIA’s early development. ARIA provides a space for creation, diffusion and experimentation, open to all artistic genres and to all people. Its principal activity is, of course, theatre, but it also embraces dance, singing and circus arts, among others.
From the start, ARIA has offered a programme of artistic education for young people, both as part of the school curriculum and outside of it, in order to help young people to develop their skills in a remarkable theatre space in an outstanding natural environment.
To learn about others, to grow, to breathe, to reflect, to express oneself, to create – these are the key elements that have guided ARIA in the construction of a programme of artistic and cultural education in the framework of PREAC ‘theatre and circus arts of Corsica’, of which ARIA is the lead cultural organisation.
Through encouraging exchanges by means of theatrical creation, reducing the barriers between actors and audiences, between amateurs and professionals, and between local residents and those from further afield, ARIA engages in public education work in areas with limited cultural access and contributes to enhancing the social cohesion of the area.
ACTIVITIES AND ACTIONS
Alongside its main summer event, the renowned ‘Rencontres Internationales de Théâtre en Corse’, Aria organises year-round training courses, internships, creative residencies, weekly workshops and field trips focusing on artistic expression for young people and educational organisations.
Open to all – professional and amateur actors, trainees, teachers, students, schoolchildren – Aria’s activities in public education are based on the exchange of knowledge and experience. It also plays an important role in opening up to the rest of the world through participation in European projects and working alongside several international theatre schools.
ARIA is recognised as a Pôle de Ressources pour l’Éducation Artistique et Culturelle (PREAC). As part of this role it organises national training courses for teachers, professional artists and trainers working in arts education.
ARIA works for the sustainable development of the Giussani area, encouraging local employment, protecting the environment and enabling synergies between public and private bodies, businesses and other organisations.
ARIA welcomes young people from across France to take part in internships, and those from the local area as part of the voluntary Service Civique programme. It also focuses on the professional insertion of the island’s young theatre artists and, as part of the CCR framework, develops access to more diverse training linked to careers in nature.
On a socio-economic level, the ARIA project generates opportunities for artists but also contributes to the development of a variety of businesses (SMEs, self-employed etc.) who offer services in areas including hospitality, local arts and crafts, mountain guides, forestry and horticulture.