• NRuskell

The new Georges Méliès University Campus in La Bocca: a historic step for Cannes

Watch out, Hollywood, Cannes’ got a new school in town! The Bastide Rouge campus dedicated to audiovisual arts is a first in France and Europe.

Part of the Bastide Rouge site in Cannes-La Bocca, the new campus is now officially open!

There was excitement and anticipation in the air. The mega project so many years in the making was finally open and filled with students. Originally drafted in 2014, it has taken many hands, many minds and many investors to realise it. Then, on Monday 4 October 2021, David Lisnard officially inaugurated the Georges Méliès University Campus in the presence of Frédérique Vidal, French Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, and Jeanick Brisswalter, President of the Université Côte d'Azur.

What a proud moment for all involved, particularly Cannes Mayor, David Lisnard and his friend and predecessor, Minister Vidal. In his inaugural speech in the entrance foyer, Lisnard recalled his past - his own story of how difficult it was to be a student in his hometown. “Cannes was never a city for students,” he said, continuing with his determination to transform this small but global city, working for years with then-Mayor Frédérique Vidal, about the need to transform Cannes into a city of learning that welcomed youth, creativity and innovation.

Ribbon cutting ©Mairie de Cannes - (from left to right) : Charles Ange Ginésy, President of the Alpes-Maritimes department, Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, David Lisnard, Mayor of Cannes and President of the Cannes Lérins Agglomeration, Serge Amar, Eleventh Vice-President of the Southern Region in charge of trade and crafts, Jeanick Brisswalter, President of Université Côte d'Azur and Anne Frackowiak-Jacobs, Sub-Prefect of the Grasse district.

Now, over a decade later, the two stood side-by-side to inaugurate the very building they fought to create. “It’s not often you have a mayor and an education minister at the inauguration of a University campus,” Lisnard pointed out. But this was a personal project fought long and hard for and they both stood there, surrounded by students, with so much pride, it was palpable.

[On a personal note, I first received the photo rendering of the project in fall 2018 and I published the innovative and exciting project in our Jan 2019 School special. For me, not even involved in the project but just as a relayer of information, I felt exhilarated to be standing within its walls.]

Cannes Mayor, David Lisnard giving his inauguration speech. c. Mairie de Cannes

In his typical grand orator fashion, David Lisnard unleashed his passion-filled dedication:

“This has been a dream that today has come true….and it is the beginning of an adventure. An adventure of learning; an adventure of empowerment; an adventure of individual but also collective achievement… all made possible by this project--a first in France and Europe.”

This project is also a major boon for the University of the Côte d’Azur. With a programme unique to the school, this puts the university, already ranked in France’s top 10, at a major advantage for attracting film and television students from around the world. Not to mention it is a public, state school so there is clearly a financial advantage to the film schools of the US, where tuition can run over 40,000 USD per year.

Jeanick Brisswalter, President of the Université Côte d'Azur also spoke at the inauguration and pointed out these great advantages: "Université Côte d'Azur, recognised as one of France's nine universities of excellence with a strong international reputation, aims to be a driving force for growth in the Côte d'Azur region, particularly in conjunction with local authorities. In this context, Cannes City Council and the Université Côte d'Azur are creating a university campus, the only one of its kind in Europe, in the field of Cultural and Creative Industries, in order to amplify our region's historical influence in this field and to train professionals capable of innovating and inventing the formats of the future in this sector.

The Bastide Rouge project

Photo render by Architect Christophe Gulizzi

The Georges Méliès University Campus is the main attraction, but not the only planned building on the Bastide Rouge site in Cannes-La Bocca. Located on a 4-hectare area, the Cannes Bastide Rouge site also houses a 2,400-seat multiplex cinema and IMAX theatre called "Cineum", an integrated business centre, a business incubator, a car park with 276 free spaces (1,000 spaces in the long term) and a student residence with 172 flats (opening in September 2022). The original Bastide Rouge, the small red building that gave the project its name has been renovated and now serves as the CreaCannes project centre with coworking space for students.

But here, we’re talking about the main attraction! The newly named "Campus Georges Méliès" pays homage to the great film genius who started it all (think of the first cinematic entry with the moon getting a rocket in his eye). Within this campus are several programmes and schools, working together with the latest and greatest audiovisual equipment.

These include:

  • CREATES University Research School of the Université Côte d'Azur

  • École Supérieure de Réalisation Audiovisuelle (ESRA)

  • The University Institute of Technology (IUT)

  • Ecole Supérieure de Danse de Cannes Rosella Hightower (PNSD)

A total of 35 courses are offered, ranging from the University Technology Diploma (DUT, gradually replaced by the BUT) to doctorates, most of which are unique and related to scriptwriting and audiovisual content design. This development of the creative economy sector in the Cannes area is part of the ambitious "Cannes on Air" programme, the objective of which is to provide the region with all the links in the audiovisual content design chain. To encourage exchanges between higher education and the entrepreneurial world, the campus also houses a business centre which opened in May 2021.

The Specs

With a total surface area of 8,145 m2, the building, designed by architect Christophe Gulizzi, offers 4,445 m2 of space dedicated to the university campus, including:

  • General and shared teaching rooms with twenty-two classrooms, two amphitheatres and six computer rooms

  • Premises for the entire audiovisual production chain with, in particular, four recording studios, a large stage equipped (dance, music, stage) with a shared control room, a film set, nine editing rooms, a radio studio, a film club and a director's office

  • A learning centre or university library, with three workrooms

  • A university cafeteria "Karma Café" offering home-made dishes at affordable prices for students and entrepreneurs;

  • Administrative and business offices for start-ups and creative companies

These future professionals in the creative and cultural industries benefit, on the one hand, from high quality operational and user-friendly infrastructures and, on the other hand, from the latest generation of professional equipment to guarantee them optimal learning conditions. This environment, which is conducive to innovation, is reinforced by the presence of start-ups hosted on the campus.

Cross-fertilisation between the academic and entrepreneurial worlds

In order to promote synergy between teaching, research and the creation of innovative activities, the Georges Méliès Campus houses both a university and a business centre in the same location. Opened in May 2021, it already houses 13 companies in the audiovisual field that benefit from economic development support from the Cannes Lérins Agglomeration. By bringing together students, researchers and entrepreneurs in the same space, the site aims to encourage the cross-fertilisation of ideas and experiences. With these assets, the Cannes Bastide Rouge site is a real catalyst for entrepreneurial creation and innovation, a factor of competitiveness and job creation.

Continuing support from the Ville de Cannes

In order to diversify the artistic fields covered in class, Cannes Town Hall is extending its 100% Artistic and Cultural Education (EAC) programme to the Georges Méliès Campus, for students and professionals alike. Already successfully implemented in all of Cannes' educational establishments since 2017, this approach is a real necessity as it constitutes a source of achievement, personal development and social link.

Thus, the objective through this approach is to create a fruitful dialogue between the worlds of creation, art, training, research and entrepreneurship.

In addition, in partnership with the PACA Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs and the Université Côte d'Azur, the campus hosts a diversified cultural programme throughout the year, including an agreement signed between the Université Côte d'Azur and the Orchestre de Cannes also puts music in the spotlight and invites students and entrepreneurs to attend rehearsals or concerts.

Until the end of 2021, the focus is on dance and cinema, through workshops, shows and exhibitions. The first exhibition, from 2 September 2021 to 17 December 2021, consists of 80 drawings by Quentin Spohn, a graduate of the Villa Arson School of Art, inspired by cult film scenes.

How this mega project was funded

The ‘Bastide Rouge’ project is the biggest investment of David Lisnard's first municipal mandate. Making Cannes a city of learning was his vision from long before he became the mayor, so the project was quickly made a priority.

Promoting learning and the conditions for the development of young students in Cannes are priorities for David Lisnard. Although the construction of a university building is the responsibility of the State, the Cannes City Council and the Cannes Lérins Agglomeration initiated the project in 2014 to create a true centre of excellence dedicated to the image industry in Cannes. This ambitious vision pursues the highly strategic desire of the Mayor of Cannes to make the Cannes area the "Silicon Valley of audiovisual creation". To achieve this, the two project owners have committed a sum of €32.25 million (including tax) (€23.8 million including tax by the Cannes City Council and €8.45 million including tax by the Cannes Lérins Agglomeration). Subsidies have been obtained to the tune of €3.78 million from the Région Sud, €1.72 million from the Departmental Council, €400,000 from the State and €200,000 from the European Union.

The mayor may call it the ‘Silicon Valley of audiovisual creation’ but it’s Hollywood that should be worried!


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