Opened in 2010, Le 6b in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis is a place of artistic creation. Located in Néaucité, a new urban district under construction, 6b provides a place for work, culture and exchange. At the creative space next to the river Seine, artists can develop their individual projects while benefiting from a collective dynamic. But it’s also a place of cultural activism in a district with the highest poverty level and immigrant rate in France.
A Creative Space
From the outside it might look almost like an abandoned building, covered with a plastic fabric as if refurbishment works are about to begin. But in fact, the creative space is quite active and attracts artists, architects, musicians, filmmakers, graphic designers, craftsmen, social workers, etc. If someone would like to work at Le 6b there’s an application process, something like an interview. The questions are: What can you contribute? How can you and your work support the project?
That’s why the currently 161 residents not only concentrate on their projects, but also participate in the common spaces of creation, e.g. the exhibition space, a projection room, the dance hall, and a restaurant. To foster an active exchange, the members of 6b are people from different creative professions, and also from different countries and backgrounds.
The Principles of Democracy
Le 6b is organized by a collective governing body, following the principles of democracy and the values of sharing. Headed by a board of directors, chaired by the architect Julien Beller, a team of ten elected members meets once a week to debate on questions concerning the condition of the building and work in progress. The team also discusses the artistic programme, project financing, relations with permanent and temporary staff, or relations with other institutions.
Founder Julien Beller is an architect, a specialist in modular architecture – a concept which is used e.g. to accommodate refugees. His idea of a creative space in an abandoned office building in Saint Denis is linked to the concept of creating social change in a problematic district with many issues. He is convinced that the influence of art and creativity can make a difference to the people living in the area.
A Forum for Reflection and Networking
Developing the initiatives of a region that is undergoing major changes are the main challenges of 6b. By organizing artistic projects and cultural events, 6b’s ambition is to connect events and individuals locally and internationally. The aim is also to provide a forum for reflection, a public space where the inhabitants as well as personalities of the cultural and political life can share their experiences.
The members of 6b are active participants in France’s largest local district, the district of “Seine-Saint-Denis”. It has the highest poverty level and immigrant rate in the country. In this setting, Le 6b sees cultural activism as a matter of social well-being. The artists become part of the local community which might also influence their work as a source of inspiration.
The Spirit of the Suburbs Attracting Parisians
During summer, Le 6b is the place to be for artsy young people from the district. But also hipsters from Paris flock to the banks of the river Seine to spend time in the Beach Club of the venue during a sunny day, to attend a Vernissage or an art performance, or to experience the night life with parties and concerts.
The summer-highlight since three years in a row at 6b is an Open Air Festival of funk, electronic beats, workshops and more in August. When Paris is crowded with tourists, why not come to the suburb of Saint-Denis and experience french culture in a different way?
6-10 quai de Seine
Pictures: Angelika Schoder – Saint Denis, 2017