AGORA – Sport and culture at the heart of AGORA’s partnerships
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Sport and culture at the heart of AGORA’s partnerships

In addition to its role as a developer of new urban areas, AGORA supports and is associated with cultural and sports events in the southern region. This is a way of continuing its action with the partners who share its values of creativity, innovation and sustainability, such as the AGORA Red Rock Challenge and Sudstroum Escher Kulturlaf.

Increasing the sense of belonging to the territory. Enabling the industrial heritage of the southern region to be seen with new eyes. Cultivating well-being and a healthy relationship with the environment. These are the three main drivers for AGORA to develop sports and cultural partnerships. We discuss this with Guillaume Epp, marketing project manager at AGORA, Marc Boursheid co-founder of the AGORA Red Rock Challenge, and Pol Zimmermann, president of the a.s.b.l. Escher Kulturlaf.

Is the association of AGORA with sports and cultural events such as the Red Rock Challenge and Escher Kulturlaf a perfect fit?

Guillaume Epp: For AGORA, it is natural to be associated with all projects that promote human well-being and health, on the one hand, and cohesion between citizens and their environment on the other. Outdoor sport is an eco-responsible act which resonates with our values of responsibility and sustainability and contributes to the improvement of local community life and living conditions. It also contributes to increase the feeling of belonging to our territory, which the people of Luxembourg or of the Greater Region are still not very familiar with or which they continue to associate with the post-industrial period at the end of the 90s when this territory in transformation was no longer accessible and somehow escaped our notice. The runners and cyclists who take part in the Red Rock and the Sudstroum Escher Kulturlaf are rediscovering and reclaiming the site.

Are the partnerships as much about tourism as they are about ecology?

Marc Bourscheid: The AGORA Red Rock Challenge is a two-day sporting challenge combining mountain biking and running, allowing entrants to go through Belval and the whole of the Southern region on routes marked out for the event and to enjoy unparalleled views. It is in fact sports tourism! But above all the Red Rock is a unique look at the exceptional way the urban fabric and industrial heritage connect with nature in the Southern Region. We share with AGORA the aim of best combining human activity with respect for the environment. Our collaboration is a natural one. Also, our event was, I think, a way of introducing the general public to AGORA’s work over the years. The first races, around 2013-2014, took place in a Belval that was very different from the Belval of today!

Guillaume Epp: At the beginning of the AGORA Red Rock Challenge, there was only the Rockhal and the red Dexia building in Belval. The event brought people in and started to show them the beginnings of the new quarter that was going to develop. It’s great to be able to do it through sports that are particularly popular with the population of the greater region, and also to attract the attention of an international audience that will travel to Luxembourg for these events.

Without forgetting the cultural dimension?

Pol Zimmermann: In the case of Sudstroum Escher Kulturlaf, it’s clearly a cultural and creative partnership. The race passes various cultural sites in the city and musicians play on podiums and natural locations along the route, culminating in a big Culture Night. For us, the conversation between sport and art is an obvious one, in a perspective of diversity and interdisciplinarity, which corresponds completely to the DNA of AGORA and to the values that have motivated its conception of the Belval quarter.

What role does the dimension of industrial heritage enhancement play in both events?

Marc Bourscheid: Our participants are always amazed to discover the urban renewal work that has been done in Belval, for example with the Blast Furnaces. It is important to change the nostalgic image that the people of Luxembourg have about the steel industry sites, where so many of the local people worked and which has changed a lot since then, without the population being fully aware of it. The AGORA Red Rock Challenge route also takes in former industrial areas which have still not been regenerated, where few people travel on a daily basis and which exude a fascinating poetry and mystery in their present state.

Pol Zimmermann: This is what I personally find most thought provoking. Not only is the built heritage beautiful to see, in its abandoned state which gives it new reliefs, but it is sublimated by astonishing nature that has completely recovered its citizenship. It’s a territory that is ever changing. The pleasure for our sportsmen and women is to find it completely transformed from year to year, and to anticipate and dream of future developments, for example in Schifflange, where the territory will change a lot in the next few years.

See you on 3 September 2022 for the race [Sudstroum Escher Kulturlaf] and 9 and 10 October 2022 at the [AGORA Red Rock Challenge]

"REGARDS CROISES" is series proposed by AGORA with the aim to tell the story of a project since its birth.

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