Sunday, July 14, 2013

History and Heritage - Fast Forward to the Future, by David Marshall



Castle Cornusson, near Toulouse, France

Castle Cornusson: A Proposal for a Unique International Cultural Center 

by David Marshall

"Tous les hommes de progrès ont comme point de départ un respect profond du passé."
"All men of progress have as their departure point a profound respect for the past."
(Ernest Renan - 1823-1896 - French philosopher, historian and writer)

We are a group of seventeen people who have come together to create an Association for the Advancement of Art, Science, and New Technologies. The Association will be known by its acronym, AASNouTec. (In French, when technologies are new they are nouvelles.) A complete list of AASNouTec members can be found here: Members List.

A French association, AASNouTec, as defined by the “loi 1901”, was registered in Albi, the Tarn Prefecture, the 3rd November 2010. Our members are actively engaged in contemporary art, academia, scientific research, and technical innovation. All of them have proven track records in their respective fields and are dynamic individuals who know how to realise projects that go from the theoretical dream to innovative reality.

AASNouTec has as its aims the promotion and dissemination of new forms of contemporary creation in complementary association with art, science, technology, multi-media, land art, and the performance arts, such as concerts, theatre, and film. We are seeking the acquisition of a suitable building to restore and adapt as the setting for this innovative project where our policy, and the actions resulting from it, can be realised and perpetuated.


Too many institutions - places of “learning” or “exhibition” - do not make enough effort to facilitate access to exciting new forms of contemporary creation. Too often they steep themselves in a hermetic culture that excludes the “uninitiated”. Our mission is to open up access to creation using science and technology as liberating forces, capable of regenerating society for the benefit of everyone.

The key words that characterise AASNouTec’s mission are: experience, dynamism, success, education, technical innovation, interdisciplinary diversity, originality, accessibility, partnerships, and dissemination.

Centres Culturels de Rencontre

The inspiration for the AASNouTec project has come from the “Centres Culturels de Rencontre", which is a network of a dozen centres that has been the flagship of artistic policy at the Ministry of Culture in France since the early 1980s. Centres Culturels de Rencontre are the synthesis between a historic monument that has lost the purpose for which it was built and an artistic and intellectual project that will assure its safeguard. As experimental laboratories for a new life for heritage, they take on board the spirit of the enterprise economy, the safeguard of heritage and the implantation of cultural development.

The Centres Culturels de Rencontre are linked together by a charter. Here are some aspects of their charter that have inspired the AASNouTec proposal:

A major historic monument, its rehabilitation and its renaissance
A monument is a place where the life and work of a community has long since gone, but whose former presence is still engraved in its stones and the organisation of its work and living space. It is at the same time an autonomous reality and a mediator.

An ability to welcome and to be of service
Far from being a hermetically sealed place, the monument constitutes singular spaces that are conducive to individual and collective work. This activity is centred on the encounter, the “rencontre”, and supposes the availability of spaces equipped for such activity. The Center will be able to welcome a group or groups of persons for a period of several days.

An activity centred on artistic and intellectual production
The Center will be devoted to favoring interpersonal encounters in small groups in a setting conducive to the transmission of knowledge, to its exchange, and to collective creation. A main tool of its action will be the welcome of researchers and artists in residence.

More detailed information about the Centres Culturels de Rencontre and the way they work can be seen here: Centres Culturels de Rencontre.

The Proposal

AASNouTec’s proposal is to create a “Centre de Rencontre”, a meeting place built around the concept of a multi-disciplinary interface between the arts, science and new technology. For the sake of clarity, our business plan has taken as its model the Château de Cornusson in the Tarn-et-Garonne (82) department in south west France. This is because it corresponds closely to the criteria we have drawn up for our “Ideal Building”, in that this Château has a very prestigious history, while at the same time offering the possibility of being adaptable for our project so that it respects the latest health and safety regulations.

The project will be realised through the exhibitions and demonstrations of the artists, scientists and technical innovators in residence.

Income will come from the following sources: land art and garden design with CAD technology; educational partnerships and student exchanges; specialist workshops and targeted courses for up to 20 people; concerts and theatre performances linked to the exhibitions; business seminars (leading to potential sponsorships); and publications and research papers.

Additional Revenue

The “ideal” property for our project should offer the possibility of an additional, guaranteed source of regular income. This income would come from the sale of electricity to EDF, France’s state electricity supplier. It would serve as a means of financing the residences undertaken by the specialists described above. Photovoltaic solar panels would be fitted to a south-facing slope of the roof on one of the farm buildings. Environmentally friendly and self-servicing, this could be done without in any way compromising the artistic and research activities. The technical feasibility and the planning aspects of this revenue source have been verified with the relevant authorities. A reputable firm has been consulted as to the cost of this and its earning potential.

Why the Center We Propose is Sorely Needed

Our twelve years’ experience running the Château de Linardié proved that there is a need for a center dedicated to an independent policy of programming cultural activities at a very high level. (More information about the Château de Linardié can be found here: Chateau de Linardie.)

International perspectives will provide opportunities for encounters and exchanges between artists, scientists and researchers. It will be a place where the white heat of technological evolution can be placed at the service of artists and scientists. It will be an environment that provides a relaxed creative atmosphere in an historic setting, marked by evidence of the struggles of man of a different kind down through the ages. Above all else, it will foster an environment of openness in which the fruits of research and reflection will be exposed to an enlightened, curious public by means of exhibitions, colloquia, seminars, and courses from which it is all too often excluded.

There are many other centers employing artists in residence, that provide traditional art courses in painting and sculpture, that propose drama, theatre and creative writing workshops. There are other centers that bring together artists and scientists. But even if other centers have some of the qualities we propose, our Center will be unique in providing them all.

What the ASSNouTec Center Will Offer that Other Centers Don't

AASNouTec and competitor sites in other parts of the world (Europe, USA, Canada) share characteristics such as convenience to large population centres, proximity to road, rail & air networks, economic and social contributions to the areas in which they are established and diverse press & media coverage. Like theirs, the financial viability of our project will be based on sound business practices and marketing plans. However, it is our intention to offer specialities that are not available elsewhere but entirely unique to AASNouTec. These are summarized by the following:

Our Center will be free from the vagaries and “clientélisme" of public funding that tends to serve local political interests more than those of the centers that it is supposed to finance. 

It will provide an intimate environment for research, exchange, and the testing of new ideas in a unique form of collaboration. Our Center will be equipped with innovative technological tools that will go far beyond the usual level of CAD technology found in most of the “classic” centers. In this way it will be at the forefront of multidisciplinary initiatives that encourage creative interaction between scientific, technological, and artistic inputs. 

Thanks to the advanced equipment that will be available, our Center will offer unique opportunities for using hi-tech workshops on holiday courses, making them available to a wider intellectually curious public seeking participation in quality activities from which it would otherwise be excluded. This will be one of many ways to discover and nurture new talent in an informal research and learning environment.

Because of the way our Center will be equipped and outfitted, access to these activities will be available to people with limited mobility.


Our Center will be located in south west France, an area rich in cultural heritage, wine, gastronomy, and sites of unique tourism interest. France is the most visited country in the world. 84 million tourists came to France in 2012. Based in a prestigious historical site, our Center will be the finest justification for the restoration and preservation of that site, which will be an important marketing tool for attracting tourists and visitors. Only the Center proposed by AASNouTec will offer such diversity, and that will be its Unique Selling Point. 

To bring our proposal to fruition, finance will be needed for the acquisition, adaptation and updating of Fixed Assets - an historic Chateau with annexe buildings and grounds.

The Purchase of Depreciating Assets
Fixtures, fittings and equipment necessary for the project.

The Provision of Working Capital
For hiring personnel and running the building and grounds during the time it would take to bring the activities envisaged on stream.

Timeline for Costs over First Three Years

Year One
  • Capital Investment for the acquisition of the building.
  • Adapting it for the project (i.e., electricity, sanitation, equipment, etc.). Working Capital provision will be needed to cover an anticipated negative trading balance on turnover coming from:
    • Activities Income and state subsidies for the salaried team.
    • Expenditure on running costs for the building, some activities and salaries.
Year Two
  • Capital Investment in equipment, and the solar panels installation.
  • Apart from Capital Investment, a positive trading balance is anticipated on turnover that will come from:
    • An increase in Activities Income, state subsidies for the salaried team, income from the solar panels installation.
    • Expenditure on running costs for the building, activities and salaries.
Year Three
  • Capital Investment in equipment for the office and administration.
  • Other than Capital Investment, a positive trading balance is anticipated on increased turnover that will come from:
    • A further increase in Activities Income, state subsidies for the salaried team, and the solar panels installation.
    • Expenditure on running costs for the building, activities and salaries.


Capital investment spread over the first three years will be: €5.0 million – US $7.0 million (approx).

More detailed financials can be obtained by contacting David Marshall at Substantial Executive Summary & Business Plan and Financial Plan documents have been prepared and will be made available to putative investors.

Putative Investors

We are looking for UHNW Investors having much in common with two of the brief profiles below as well as hi-tech companies looking for original ways to invest in the evolution and development of creative thinking within their Management and Executive teams.

The experienced collector, who is passionate about contemporary art, regularly invests substantially in it, and who may be looking for original ways to consolidate and develop an art collection.

The “Geek” start-up entrepreneur who is passionate about IT and computer technology that goes way beyond mere computers.

Hi-tech companies who work at the cutting edge of technology, using new kinds of composites, materials and tools for the creation of their products, who would welcome a place that could be used as a think-tank where interdisciplinary brain-storming would take place with inputs from artists, scientists, and university researchers.

Return on the Investment

For the Art Collector

  • The collector-investor’s collection would be put on permanent exhibition in secure spaces set aside for that, with alarms and video surveillance.
  • Exciting relationships would be established between the work in the investor’s collection and the work undertaken by the artists and scientists in residence thus creating interesting prospects for artistic and scientific symbiosis, cohabitation, confrontation and the opportunity to acquire new works for the investor’s collection.

For the Geek Entrepreneur

  • The opportunity to own a prestigious historic site, as a creative “think-tank” trans-disciplinary kind of place, where contemporary art and those who create it in collaboration with scientists and technical innovators will inspire new thinking – 22nd century thinking.

For the Hi-tech Company

  • The opportunity to own a prestigious historic site, suitable for business seminars, where inspired “brain storming” sessions could take place in an atmosphere conducive to inputs from the specialists in residence, who would contribute to original ways of problem solving outside of the company’s usual thought processes and practice.

For all Three

  • High profile partnerships will be set up between the proposed Center and cutting-edge hi-tech companies in Toulouse, notably the aerospace and satellite companies.
  • High profile partnerships created between the proposed Center and prestigious universities in France, Europe and the USA, as well as in China, India and other BRICS countries.
  • The opportunity to set up a Foundation that would perpetuate the memory and ideals of the Investor, or someone near and dear to the Investor.
  • Tax advantages obtained through the creation of a Foundation, along with positive and diverse press and media coverage, attracted by the activities of the Foundation.

For the Owner of the Historic Building

  • Once it's been restored and made a going concern, the site would increase substantially in value over the years.


Castle Cornusson is about an hour's drive to the north east of Toulouse, the regional capital and center of France's and Europe's aerospace industries. With its many large international companies working at the frontiers of science and technology, the area offers abundant potential for partnerships leading to sponsorship and other business relations. Toulouse is also France's second university city after Paris with over 130,000 students who are enrolled there each year.

About the Author

David Marshall was born in Nottingham, UK, but it is Liverpool that he considers to be the city that nurtured and shaped him intellectually and artistically, notably in the theatre, where he helped establish the Unity Theatre in the premises that it now occupies. As a director, David was always keen to experiment with the up-and-coming technology of the day and many of the shows he directed were especially ambitious in the special effects domain. Unity has now become one of the UK’s leading venues for touring companies. (More info on the Unity website here:

In 1994 David relocated to France, one of the main crossroads for the transmission of art, culture, and new ideas that fertilise exchanges between the Northern countries of Europe and those of the Mediterranean basin. With over thirty years’ experience in the cultural industries as project leader and negotiator, David’s role within the project’s management structure will be chief coordinator, the catalyst for bringing together experts and specialists from seemingly disparate disciplines. His twelve years as founder and builder of the independent contemporary art centre, established at Château de Linardié, gave him many contacts with artists, scientists, technologists, university researchers, and gallery directors, who will be drawn upon for setting up and running this project. (Website:


  1. Dear David,

    Congratulations on your proposal! In support of the laboratory component thereof, our own small Space Machines Corporation hereby commits to the donation of one of our "Cybersign" programmable kinetic art armatures.

    Given the success of your Linardie initiative, I am also excited by the prospect of an even larger exhibition space! I can assure you, as someone intimately involved with the kinetic art community, that there are thousands of talented individuals creating kinetic works -- some of which rise to the level of Art with a capital "A" (see, for example, this video by emerging Austrian/French artist Josef Zuber: ); and I can further assure you that, as per the success of the new Museum of Mechanical Art and Design in Straford-upon-Avon, there exists a large body of enlightened international travelers who will gladly pay a reasonable admittance fee to view such works.

    A wonderful chateau in the wonderful southwest of France -- but whose armorial figures have now come to life! Quite an attraction, I should think!

    G. W. (Glenn) Smith

    1. Hi Glenn -

      Many thanks for your kind words - I've now had an opportunity to look at your website and the video to which you give the link in your comment -

      It's great work that you and your associates do and it would certainly fit well within the kind of thing AASNouTec would want to be presenting at Castle Cornusson once we can acquire it - the hard part !! -

      In the meantime, many thanks again for your interest and your kind words -

      best wishes - David