Mons, Belgium, is an old city; it grew around a castrum dating back to Roman times, and the growth only accelerated following the founding of an abbey by St Waltrude in about 650 AD. In 2015, Mons was a city of 93 000 people – just half of Oulu’s size! As in Oulu, hitech companies are an important employer in Mons. Most of the city’s historical buildings survived the World Wars, and are now popular cultural sites. The city hall, dating to the 15th century, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. During the years preceding the European Capital of Culture year, contemporary art was the focus of cultural development.
Mons’s theme was “Where technology meets culture”. According to their own words: “The goal is not technology for its own sake. The goal is to break the digital barriers between different generations and social classes. We want to create a bond between them, boost empowerment and invent new artistic and economic models”. 219 projects, 117 of them multidisciplinary, as well as 2390 events were implemented during 2015. Great results were achieved beyond culture as well: every euro invested in the ECoC project brought back six euros. As such, the ECoC project’s profit was substantial.
Photograph: Gregory Mathelot / VisitMons