The diversity of cross-border cultural projects

Cross-border cultural projects can be very varied. In general, they can be divided into two categories: cultural projects targeting a wide audience and projects targeting artists or creators.

1. Projects targeting a wide audience:


These projects make available a cultural offering over a long period or an unlimited duration. They can involve the creation of cross-border cultural infrastructure (theatres, museums, cultural centres), the promotion of the cultural offering at a cross-border scale (culture passes, culture web portals) as well as media (cross-border TV or radio programmes, newspapers and magazines).

  • Developing common cultural infrastructure

La Virgule”, a cross-border theatre creation centre, fits perfectly in the context of the dynamic cross-border territory of Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai Eurometropolis. Created in 1999, the main objective of the centre is the joint creation of performances with French and Belgian artists, presented in Tourcoing (FR) or in Mouscron (BE).
The “BAAL novo – Theater Eurodistrict” of the Strasbourg-Ortenau Eurodistrict is the only binational theatre in Europe. Its production aims to establish Franco-German cultural links and to transcend the cultural and linguistic barriers between the two countries.
The “Musée des Trois Pays” (Three Countries Museum), located in the town of Lörrach near Basel, is also one of a kind. Its very rich collection presents the history and culture of the Upper Rhine region, where the borders of France, Germany and Switzerland meet.

  • Promoting cross-border cultural and natural heritage

Bringing together heritage sites within cross-border itineraries helps to promote them and attract more visitors from either side of the border. The “Terra Salina” project brings together four heritage salt production sites in the Jura Arc; the “Jacob@ccess” project establishes adapted infrastructure to make the Way of Saint James (Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle / Camino de Santiago) accessible to disabled people.
The “PAMINA Rhine Park” aims to highlight the heritage of the Upper Rhine through the creation of thematic museums and hiking infrastructure.
Digital tools can also help to promote the cultural offering of a cross-border territory. The mobile app “Traverse” allows visitors a personalised and dynamic discovery of French-Swiss heritage, by accompanying users in the interpretation of landscapes and monuments.

  • Promoting the joint cultural offering

The cross-border cultural offering can be difficult to navigate. The web portal presents, in a single place, all the cultural addresses and events in the Greater Region; the portal is a reference site for performing arts in the Upper Rhine region.
Presenting the cross-border cultural offering and facilitating access to it is also the goal of the Museum Pass in the Upper Rhine. This cultural passport allows access to around 320 museums, castles, gardens and other sites in the trinational region.

  • Strengthening the cross-border identity with shared media

Cross-border media outlets play an important role in bringing populations on either side of the border closer together. The internet radio station “Léman Bouge” (“Geneva on the move”) aims to bring the contemporary music of artists in the Greater Geneva region to the public; the “Ensemble” (“Together”) programme, broadcast on Wednesday evenings on the channel “Léman Bleu”, presents news and topics concerning this same territory.

  • Commemorating shared history

Peoples that forget their past are condemned to relive it: this is particularly important in cross-border territories whose history is marked by numerous conflicts. The Hartmannswillerkopf Franco-German Historial of the Great War, opened in August 2017, aims to commemorate the numerous fallen soldiers of the First World War in the Vosges Massif and to remind visitors of the importance of Franco-German reconciliation.


These projects are organised around a defined timeframe. They can repeat regularly during certain periods of the year; nevertheless, they are not open to the public on an ongoing basis. This category notably includes cross-border festivals, performances and exhibitions.

  • Creating a joint cultural offering

Cross-border territories are predisposed to the hosting of binational or trinational festivals. The Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai Eurometropolis’ “NEXT” festival is multidisciplinary, dedicated to the different arts of the stage: theatre, dance and performance. The “Perspectives” festival, also presenting the performing arts, has been held every year in Saarbrücken for over 40 years, a record length of time.
On the French-Swiss border, the main event is the “JazzContreBand” festival, dedicated entirely to jazz, and held every October since 1997.
The Bayonne-San Sebastian Eurocity holds the “Dantza Hirian” contemporary dance festival every year.
Germany, France and Switzerland come together every year for a month to celebrate architecture with the “Architecture Days”.

2. Projects targeting artists and creators:


Various projects aim to help cultural operators with their formalities, to network them, or to encourage them in their creative endeavours.

  • Supporting artists and encouraging creation

Support facilities can encourage emerging artists in their creation. In the territory of the Basque Country, the “Karrikan” project offers artists financial support, as well as artistic, technical and administrative assistance; the “ZUbi” project encourages artistic creation in the Basque language.

  • Offering training to artists

Training courses for cross-border artists can contribute to the creation of new networks with ties of solidarity. The “TERRACT – Actors of the Earth” project at the French-Italian border offers dramatic arts training courses using the “Social and Community Theatre” methodology, allowing the local community to rediscover the cultural resources of the territory. The project “De Mar a Mar – Pyrénées de cirque” offers training to circus artists at the French-Spanish border.

  • Encouraging sustainable development in the culture sector

The cultural sector is just as concerned by requirements for eco-responsibility as other sectors. The “DEMO” project (Sustainability and Ecology in the sector of Music and its Operators) aims to encourage environmentally friendly behaviour in the contemporary music sector on the French-Belgian border.


Different competitions and prizes are organised for the recognition of artists in cross-border territories. “Créajeune”, a video competition, is reserved for amateur filmmakers under 30 years of age in the Greater Region. This competition allows them to screen short films of up to 30 minutes, with the possibility of winning prizes in three different categories: children, teenagers, and young adults.
The “Lettres frontière” prize aims to promote literature in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and French-speaking Switzerland, by rewarding the authors of the best fiction books published within the territory over the preceding  year.

The Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe launched a programme of “Cultural Routes” with the signing of the Declaration of Santiago de Compostela in 1987. These routes aim to promote closer unity among populations through better knowledge of European cultural heritage.
To date, more than thirty networks have acquired “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” certification, covering various topics and countries. They implement activities and projects within five fields of action:
- Cooperation in research and development
- Promoting remembrance, history and European heritage
- Educational and cultural exchanges for young Europeans
- Contemporary culture and artistic practice
- Cultural tourism and sustainable development
This transnational programme of cultural and tourism management helps to create synergies between national, regional and local authorities, as well as between associations and socio-economic actors.

Esch-sur-Alzette – European Capital of Culture 2022

In 2022, the title of “European Capital of Culture” will be held by the border town Esch-sur-Alzette and the ProSud alliance of French and Luxembourgish municipalities. This prestigious title will allow the region, deeply anchored in a cross-border environment, to re-examine culture from new intercultural perspectives, and to promote its unique industrial heritage. For Esch-sur-Alzette, the year 2022 should be an opportunity to affirm that the future of Europe lies in bringing together different cultures.