ESCH2022 Opening Ceremony; Credit: c Claude Piscitelli

The closing event for Esch2022, European Capital of Culture 2022, is almost upon us: in the lead-up to this significant event later today (22 December) we take a look back over the past year by interviewing Nancy Braun, Director General of ESCH2022. Please tell us more about the upcoming "Esch2022 - REWIND-PLAY-FORWARD" event and its significance regarding the year-long Esch2022 programme.

Nancy Braun: This closing event is a key moment for Esch2022 as it is the culmination of all that has been undertaken during the year 2022. This event is also a new beginning as it will kick off the continuation of many projects and partnerships born during and for this special year.

The show is going to take place at Rockhal in Esch-Belval on Thursday 22 December from 17:30 to 23:00 and continue at the new cultural centre Arche in Villerupt (FR) from 23:00 to 03:00. We are expecting 5,000 people in total. In the first half of the evening, cultural and political actors with share together with artists their highlights of Esch2022.

In the second part of the evening, artists which illustrate the spirit of Esch2022 will take over the floor. A great opportunity to enjoy concerts and to put on the dancing shoes. Among the performers you find Belong in collaboration with Altercadance and the Capoeira Team Luxembourg, La Jungle – Raw collaborations, L'Apéro Littéraire and "Désoeuvrés et é(s)chauds). Later in the evening, the party continues on the other side of the border! Use the free shuttle system to the new Arche building and dance the night away to frenzied electronic beats by djs such as Miss Sappho, La Créole, Bernadette and La Zintrie. What are the next steps after Esch2022 comes to an official close?

Nancy Braun: Since 2019, the Esch2022 team works together with partners in Luxembourg and abroad to plan the title year Esch2022 in a collaborative and sustainable way. Hence, we consider the title year 2022 as a first chapter for the Esch2022 region. The next step is to organise a proper handover to the various partners of the Esch20222 ASBL. On 9 January, the three current European Capital of Cultures will pass the torch to Eleusis (Greece), Timisoara (Rumania) and Veszprem (Hungary) which will be the next European Capital of Cultures in 2023.

On 23 January 2023, the handover to the 19 municipalities will be organised. This will also be a key moment to communicate about the legacy. Please share your experience regarding the whole Esch2022 programme so far, from the conception, to the beginning and now almost coming to an end of the first chapter of Esch2022.

Nancy Braun: Every project that took place was there at the right time in the right place for the right audience. There are no regrets about the choices we made. Some projects attracted more people than others, but we really appreciated the people's curiosity to discover the south of Luxembourg in all its colours. During the 10 months, the south and neighbouring French municipalities were galvanising visitors and locals with their cultural programme. Young or old, there was something to see for everyone.

Regarding the statistics and figures about the audience’s behaviour, we will get more details next year when all 160 project partners introduced their activity report surveys and statistics. What we can say for now, I also can confirm this from my personal experience, is that people have attended events that they don't usually attend or been to places that they don't usually go to or visit. I think the audience has definitely mixed up and that’s really rewarding and we want this to be continued by our partners, projects and institutions that will pursue Esch2022. Looking back, leading a team of over 30 people, what were the main challenges and accomplishments of the Esch2022 programme?

Nancy Braun: Today I am very proud of everyone who was and is part of Esch2022 and I am very happy to have had the opportunity to work on such a project. Many people from different worlds - e.g. culture, tourism and business - have worked together productively and creatively and this across municipalities, across borders and also on a European level! Also not to be forgotten are the many volunteers who were part of the so-called "REMIX community" and all the other volunteers who gave us their time! Without their active support it would have been hardly possible to organise 2,400 events. Whilst there are probably many projects that were developed under the aegis of the Esch2022 programme and which have created tangible assets for the future attractiveness and promotion of regional art, culture and nature immersion and interaction, please tell us about a couple which you think have had a bigger impact than initially foreseen.

Nancy Braun: In the context of the last two years, events planning has required a lot of flexibility. There have been many great moments. Overall, I have particularly enjoyed the projects that have brought many people together to discover and enjoy new places, themes or culture. Is there any other project that you and/or you team are looking forward to taking on in 2023?

Nancy Braun: Since 2019, the Esch2022 team has been working closely with local, national and cross-border actors from the cultural scene, the tourism industry and business. From the beginning, the goal has been to use the title year together to set sustainable impulses for the region. The example of cultural programming shows that we accompanied the cultural actors in the implementation of the projects in a cooperative process. They only had to consider some criteria so that the projects were accessible, sustainable or innovative, for example. From an organisational point of view, it would certainly have been easier for us if everything had been produced "in-house". However, it was important for us to develop a democratic process in which the various existing actors get a boost from the Capital of Culture label and use the momentum to create new ideas and develop them further beyond 2022.

The Esch2022 ASBL will be dissolved next year but, on 23 January, the torch will be passed to the ProSud, CCPHVA communities and to the local actors as well. In this way, we hope that the various achievements of the project will be carried forward on several shoulders.