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Franco-German Creative Hub in Nancy
Oh my Goethe!

Solène Mangin (right) and Edith Le Goff explain the mission of Off Kultur
Solène Mangin (right) and Edith Le Goff explain the mission of Off Kultur | Photo Mathilde Dieudonné

The winners of the contest initiative “Oh my Goethe!” developed their start-up ideas at the Franco-German Creative Hub of the Goethe-Institut Nancy. After six months, they presented their results: a music festival concept that transcends national borders, as well as pop-up installations that make public spaces places of dialogue.

By Dr. Esther Mikuszies

Six months after moving into the Creative Hub, the winners of the “Oh my Goethe!” contest are celebrating the end of the first round and presenting the start-up ideas they’ve been working on. With a scholarship from the Métropole du Grand Nancy, they worked in the new co-working space of the Goethe-Institut Nancy. Two start-up consultants from the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship assisted them and provided them with skills in entrepreneurship and innovation, such as prototyping, communication and business modelling.


Lightweight, five-metre high pop-up installations with the gold letters OH-M-G! surround the garden where the award winners present their start-up ideas. They were built by Robert Ilgen, who moved to Nancy as an architect for “Oh my Goethe!” and works together with graphic designer Janine Vandamme-Schlimpert. The two got to know each other at the Cultural Entrepreneurship Academy, where 20 candidates played through the stages that each successful start-up goes through, from the idea to product marketability.
With Pop up ma parole Robert Ilgen and Janine Vandamme-Schlimpert want to make public spaces places of dialogue. Their miniature pop-up architecture with the inscription “You can always dream! Dreams of...” is wandering through Nancy. “We want to enliven places and bring the stories, statements and little ideas of the residents to the public square to stimulate discussions,” says Vandamme-Schlimpert. The duo sees their start-up as a service to develop structures for social or cultural events in public spaces.
The OFF KULTUR team, Solène Mangin, Johann Gretke, Camille Renard and Edith Le Goff, aimed to make their Nancy-based festival concept known beyond the country’s borders. They have been organising concerts by up-and-coming musicians in flats and in unusual locations since 2011.
Robert Ilgen and Janine Vandamme-Schlimpert with their project „Pop-up ma parole“ Robert Ilgen and Janine Vandamme-Schlimpert with their project „Pop-up ma parole“ | Photo: Mathilde Dieudonné


The initiative fits right into the local and cross-border cultural and creative scene. The goal of “Oh my Goethe!” is to make the Goethe-Institut a Franco-German platform for actors from the cultural and creative industries. Thus, cultural and educational partners and the creative industry scene from both countries meet at the closing ceremony. “We found common ground quickly and many things have been initiated in recent months. The creative atmosphere affects the entire building. We’ve left our classic fields behind and experienced how an initially rough concept can quickly bring about very practical results,” Jacob Hochrein, head of the library, says of the coexistence with the creatives. This is how OFF KULTUR transforms the library and garden into a stage for young up-and-coming musicians and for a young audience that is rediscovering the institute.


People from the cultural and creative industries from all over Germany and the Nancy metropolitan region can apply for the second call until 25 September 2019. The initiative addresses creatives in the fields of music, books, art, film, radio, performing arts, architecture, design, press, advertising as well as software and games, whether analogue or digital.
The evening ends with a concert by John Moods from Berlin The evening ends with a concert by John Moods from Berlin | Photo: Mathilde Dieudonné