A city of 135,000 inhabitants, Limoges is internationally recognised as the French capital of ceramic arts. Limoges’ history boasts nine centuries of creativity in the crafts of ceramics, enamel and glass-making. Over time, these crafts have modernised their production tools and have always served as a driver of economic growth. The discovery of kaolin in the 18th century close to Limoges established its renown in the porcelain industry. The sector accounts for around 60% of the national income, amounting to US$138 million annually with almost 1,200 individuals employed in the sector. Fifteen companies within the sector post revenues in excess of US$2.4 million.
Ceramics, enamel and glass-making are important strongholds in Limoges through its many artisan’s workshops, collectives, associations, factories, research and development centres, schools and museums. This rich ecosystem is illustrated by an extensive schedule of events, including the Toques & Porcelaine [‘Chefs and Porcelain’] festival, held every two years and combining cuisine and porcelain through live cookery demonstrations and talks with debates. At the beginning of 2017, in partnership with the city council, the École nationale supérieur d’art organised research days seeking to explore connections between ceramics, glass, and the transformation of these materials into digital data.
The City of Limoges promotes the inclusion of contemporary art in public spaces, as is attested to by its street furniture and numerous art projects. The City Council’s goal of is to turn public spaces into places of experimentation for ceramic arts and to showcase artisan creators and establish inclusive spaces that promote social interaction. Educational activities linked to ceramic arts will also be developed through active, cross-cutting policies, with a view to promoting cultural expressions within civil society and inculcating ‘ways of seeing’.
As a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, Limoges envisages:
- transforming its public spaces into areas of experimentation for its artisan creators (demonstrations, performances and public-sector artistic commissions);
- supporting its artisan creators by establishing a creative market and developing affordable rent workshops;
- creating, for every other year between its two-yearly ceramics and cuisine event, an international craft fair with priority access for creators from other cities within the Network;
- promoting artisan and craft know-how among young people (public workshops, internships, talks and extracurricular activities);
- developing a residency programme for international artists and artisans from other Creative Cities in order to mix different creative spheres and promote exchanges between member cities; and
- promoting North-South cooperation by offering its expertise, thereby enabling cities that so desire to identify their assets and develop these through decentralised cooperation agreements.