Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg’s second largest city, was named European Capital of Culture 2022 and celebrated its grand opening on February 26. For the ceremony, which lasted several hours, the Esch region, together with our creative studio – and in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic -, ventured into the future: culture was created by the whole region itself.
There is little doubt that the phrase FOMO — Fear Of Missing Out — has become a behavioral trademark of our frantic cultural mood. Few things seem to steer our social existence as much as the fear of not necessarily missing, but rather being overlooked by the dynamic flow of organized activities, events, and experiences. For years if not decades, and noticeably accelerated with the advent of digitalization, FOMO wasn’t prompted by an intrinsic desire to constantly be everywhere, at once. If it may have become internalized as a craving, all it did in fact was harbor collective insecurity — and an entrenched, cultivated pressure to be continuously part of the society of spectacle. Needless to remind, things have taken quite a U-turn in the past year, and now that the world appears to be reopening, the FOMO phenomenon has nearly evaporated, leaving room for its anxious, introverted cousin — FOGO (Fear Of Going Out).
Oddly and fortunately enough, in spite of all adversity, it’s been an extraordinary ride. It’s hard to foresee a reaction to a challenge unless directly confronted with it. In our case, thankfully, the past year has demonstrated an unsuspected perseverance and adaptability to change — within less than a year, we’ve fully transitioned from live, staged to hybrid.
This past year, the challenges posed by the pandemic came coupled with several opportunities for fresh thinking. This has, in our methods, processes and output, taken the form of a new understanding of cultural production as open, modular and fluid. The Hybrid Culture worldview and creative approach have seen us through the worst of times for the live event industry. It has made us realize that the “normal” is dead — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. How can our creativity adjust to a lasting, if not permanent, cultural shift?
Following the interview with Esch2022 director Nancy Braun that we shared last week and in which she gave insight on her vision for the process and impact of Esch-sur-Alzette and the greater region as the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) of 2022, we now spoke to our CEO Brendan Shelper about this major project. He shares how his experience in large-scale opening ceremonies, as well as the method of Design Thinking, informs the launch of Esch2022.
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