The support of corporate foundations can be decisive for community associations and non-profits working to build a more supportive and more inclusive society in a city or region. The RATP Group Foundation is a case in point.
“We aim for the greatest impact, for the region and its residents”
The Foundation is deeply rooted in the regions. Why this choice?
R-R.B. : It stems very naturally from the Group’s business activities. In Paris, as in London, Seine-Saint-Denis or Charleville-Mézières, these very concrete activities (operation, maintenance, projects, etc.) are locally managed to serve citizens and in close contact with local players. This is why we support a very large number of projects there; 81 in fact as part of the 2021 programme.
Which projects are you supporting in the field of employment and workforce integration, and what is your target audience?
R-R.B. : The 2021 programme includes 20 projects relating to access to employment. Our resources are limited, so we try to target projects that will have the greatest impact for the region and the beneficiaries,
including people outside the job market, women from a migrant background or young people from disadvantaged inner-city areas. In addition, we take a particular interest in initiatives for women, those that incorporate digital transformation issues and projects that are innovative in nature.
Can you give some examples?
R-R.B. : We support the Women in Digital project run by the Social Builder association, which helps under-qualified, long-term unemployed women in Seine-Saint-Denis to find jobs by training them in digital technology. But also Positive Planet, which is developing a third place dedicated to entrepreneurship in Montreuil, as well as Sapiens Brushing in Champignysur- Marne, which trains immigrant women in presentation and assertiveness, helping them highlight their skills and plan their pathway to employment.
Since 2012, the Foundation has worked in partnership with ADIE, the “association for promoting economic initiative”, which funds and supports people with a business project. In the Ile-de-France region, a pop-up shop called Le Quai des Créateurs, in Gallieni station on metro line 3, is open for micro-entrepreneurs to “trial” their creations on the public. In 2021 the Foundation committed to backing 26 budding entrepreneurs in French regions where ADIE is providing support for them to get their businesses up and running – in Boulogne-sur-Mer, Vannes and Aix-les-Bains, three cities where subsidiary RATP Dev operates transport networks.
As an essential ingredient of urban planning, culture also has a place in parks, in former factories and even on the metro. This is demonstrated by RATP’s Grand Prix for Poetry, which inspired users of the Ile-de-France Mobilités network operated by RATP with the 10 winning poems for 2021 displayed throughout the summer. Cultural facilities and works of art are soothing, sometimes provocative, they repair social bonds and enrich the identity of cities. Saint-Etienne has been transformed from its industrial past to become a centre for design, Bilbao is now better known for the Guggenheim Museum than for its steelworks and, in Provence, the Luma foundation in Arles has brought the ancient city into the modern world.
The post-industrial city is turning to art and culture to enhance its wastelands, revitalise its neighbourhoods and to attract talent and tourists. In Vienna, Austria, the F23 project to renovate a former factory has consolidated the city’s 23rd district, a patchwork of outlying villages, by creating a cultural focal point. In France, the revitalisation of city centres comes largely through culture. This impetus is marked by an increasing number of labels, such as “Creative Cultural District” or “French Capital of Culture” – first awarded to Villeurbanne – created to reward the cultural attractiveness of a region.
“Street art makes culture available to everyone”
Why was artist C215 chosen to create a fresco in the new Bagneux – Lucie Aubrac station on metro line 4?
E.F. : The team at Bagneux town hall was unanimous in choosing this highly committed street artist. He has produced portraits of both ordinary folk and celebrities like Simone Veil and Josephine Baker and has long been battling injustice. It is this fight against discrimination that we are trying to bring to Bagneux.
There is a lot of street art in the town. What role does art have to play in public spaces in your opinion?
E.F. : Promoting street art has been our stated intention since the time of the previous administration to make culture available to all. Bagneux is a workingclass town, and we know that many people would never enter a museum, so we call on recognised artists and also use local talent.
Local residents are consulted on the choice of fresco that will decorate the bottom of their building, and discovery trails are organised for schoolchildren and locals.
What do local residents make of this street art?
E.F. : They are proud to have these works of art in their town. One of them said to me recently: “When I have guests in the evening, I take them to see the illuminated fresco Extra-Natural by Miguel Chevalier.”
C215, real name Christian Guémy, is a French street and stencil artist. As part of a collaboration between Bagneux town hall and RATP, his work decorates the new Bagneux – Lucie Aubrac metro station.