Experiencing art and culture is a way of changing your worldview and opening up to others by living through the senses. The University of Poitiers is committed to the development of strong cultural events which contribute to the emancipation of its students.
Isabelle Lamothe, Vice-President in charge of Culture and Life on Campus, is passionate about her mission and wishes to share her interest in the arts and culture with students. The richness and variety of the cultural and artistic program offered throughout the year is intended to meet everyone’s tastes and desires, and to “try to go further by offering students new discoveries and approaches”. To give them the opportunity to explore new pathways as it were!
Curiosity is an essential quality
The Vice-President regrets that too often arts and culture have been considered “as rather marginal, or too elitist, or just entertainment”. However, it is a question of approaching a “sensitive and aesthetic experience of the world, which calls upon our senses”. Who doesn’t get goose bumps listening to music, or tears in their eyes watching a movie? Knowing, learning to look, enjoying the smells, noises, colors, shapes, enjoying harmony, being challenged in a positive sense. A cocktail of emotions, to set us in motion both in body and the mind “Mixing passion and reason, not only with a rational and materialistic approach, allows us to find meaning”.
Isabelle Lamothe is convinced that “taking another step towards an aesthetic approach may allow us to apprehend our daily life differently and develop a form of empathy towards others and towards the world, to encourage meeting and exchange”. This is why she believes it is essential to strive towards culture, particularly during the period of life when young people are studying, at a time when their cultural practices and representations are changing.
The University as a place of culture
“Artists have so many things to tell us and to make us feel that it is essential we meet them. Much is to be learnt from their artistic endeavors. This is one of the main aspirations of Universities, leading to the signing of the “University as a place of culture” agreement in 2013. This convention focuses its actions on the artistic presence in universities in the form of artists’ residencies or works of art. It participates in the development of students’ cultural and artistic practices, (e.g. in supporting amateur artistic practices for enthusiasts as well as developing scientific and technological knowledge).
In addition to this agreement, the University of Poitiers has provided human resources for arts and culture with a position dedicated to the cultural mission at the Student Union (“Maison des Étudiants”) and the creation of a Vice-Presidency in charge of culture.
The University also participates more broadly in the cultural development of its local area, in particular through numerous partnerships with cultural organizations. Poitiers is in fact one of the few universities to have signed a multi-year framework agreement with the Nouvelle Aquitaine Regional Cultural Agency and the only French university to have signed a framework agreement with a national concert hall, (the Poitiers TAP Auditorium Theater). It also has recognized cultural facilities, including, for example, the Maison des Étudiants auditorium, as well as the music and dance pavilion Auditorium.
Isabelle Lamothe points out that “culture is one of the missions assigned by law to French universities, along with education and research”, whether it be artistic or scientific culture. She explains that this cultural mission stems from the fact that “thinking is a work of detailed reflection resulting from the cultural dimension of things, and from an appetite for curiosity. Arts and culture are critical resources for restoring value to thought and not simply accepting surface appearances.” Culture is thus a means of emancipating oneself from a certain conformism.
The objective is thus to develop an esthetic sensitivity to the world, as a re-enchantment, a discovery, to be able to think things out differently and open up the field of possibilities.