Rouages: "Serving art and culture".

Éléonore Szturemski and Louise Robert are the two artisans behind the implementation of the University of Montpellier's cultural policy. Organizing events, practical art workshops, residencies and hosting artists are just some of the duties they carry out within the art and culture department.

A mission affected but not sunk by the health context, which they present to us this month as part of the " Rouages " video series produced by the UM.

Some eagerly await its every news item, others confuse it with the scientific culture department, while still others don't even know it exists. "It' s true that an arts and culture department within a university without an arts department may seem surprising at first glance, but in reality it's absolutely essential that the dissemination of culture and the arts be at the heart of training and research establishments ", explains Éléonore Szturemski, head of the arts and culture department.

Under the aegis of the Campus Life Department, the Art and Culture Department was set up in 2009 to encourage and develop staff and student exposure to art and contemporary culture. "Our ambitions are to reduce cultural disparities, help build a common identity for the UM through the creation of social links, encourage individual development and, of course, the acquisition of skills, " explains the manager. These ambitions are fully in line with Éléonore's career path: before joining the UM in 2010, she had already cut her teeth in the Parisian audiovisual world, before moving to Montpellier to join the bande-annonce association (Occitanie Films), then to coordinate the Kawenga multimedia cultural space.

A program in four acts

Today, three members of the department are responsible for this mission, with the help of two civic service volunteers and two student jobs for part of the year. " Our programming is financially supported by the student and campus life contribution (CVEC) and is divided into four main areas," explains Louise Robert, cultural project manager trained at the Grenoble Institute of Political Studies. The first area is multidisciplinary art workshops. Open all year round by registration, the workshops cover a wide range of practices, from computer-assisted music (CAM) and poster design to botanical drawing, jewelry-making, stained-glass workshops and physical expression.

Our second priority is to host artists in residence on campus, so that they can work with students and staff on artistic projects," explains Louise Robert. We are currently hosting comic book author and illustrator Émilie Plateauand visual artist Ganaëlle Maury . " Before them, illustrator Aya Kakeda and artist Caroline Muheim, to name but a few, were also hosted at the UM.

The various events organized on campus also punctuate the season for the arts and culture department. "Anti-homophobia week, Women's Month with Donner des Elles à l'UM, the Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days) and the Nuits de la lecture (Reading Nights) are all invitations to open-mindedness and artistic curiosity," emphasizes the project manager. Schemes such as Culturesponsable and the Pass'Yoot complete this offer, enabling staff and students to meet artists in the region's various theaters. " All these initiatives are carried out in close collaboration with our many partners, from the various departments and services within the UM to theCROUS cultural service and the support of the DRAC Occitanie," continues Éléonore Szturemski.

Culture and resilience

At the university, as elsewhere, culture is of course suffering from the tense health context in which we have been living for almost a year. Nevertheless, the manager and her team are not resigned to waiting, and are inventing new proposals that take these imperatives into account. " Like our artists, we experiment and test. The aim is to maintain the link with staff and students, even and especially at a distance. The Jungle intérieur de nos plantes drawing competition, launched on Instagram, is the successor to the Vues Intérieures photo competition, which worked so well during the first lockdown.

We're developing our online presence via our website and social networks," says Louise Robert. We produce webinars, booklets, videos, all the creative and digital formats that can enable us to pursue our cultural action. We organize encounters around musical creations such as the Dwichs confinés, and offer online readings such as those by the Muerto Coco collective on the theme of poetry and crossed revolutions . An adaptation that requires inventiveness, perseverance and resilience on the part of this team in a context where culture seems more than ever a window on the outside world. "We mustn' t forget that what we offer is above all exploration, new encounters, emotions and, above all, shared pleasure," concludes Éléonore Szturemski.