A Cultural Oasis in the Heart of Paris

A Cultural Oasis in the Heart of Paris: Agape Hub

Nestled in the heart of the Strasbourg-Saint Denis neighborhood in Paris, between boulangeries and cafes, one may stumble into a small gallery filled with a rotation of different visual and performative arts. Though not rare for this neighborhood, the Agapé Hub stands out as a gallery that is doing more than just showing art––it is working to bring the community together.

“The Agapé Hub is a cultural association that seeks to help emerging Parisian artists show their work in an accessible manner,” says Emilee Irwin, Greater Europe Mission’s Arts Impact Zone director. Irwin has partnered with the Agapé Hub since the Spring of 2023 in an effort to expand GEM’s network of artists in France and across Europe. “The Hub often hosts events to build relationships with local artists and the public. Events include concerts, talks, workshops, and hands-on activities.”

cultural opportunity Paris: Agapé Hub

Agapé Hub’s Community Building

Agapé Hub is an extension of Agapé France, a ministry started by Cru in Lyon, France in 1973. While Agapé Hub falls into the category of a cultural association in France, this does not remove its desire to share the good news with the community it serves.

“While the art may not be overtly Christian,” Irwin adds, “giving artists an opportunity to share their work at a low cost welcomes people into a warm and inviting environment that gives space to ask questions around faith.”

This is the exact idea behind the gallery that will be showing during the 2024 Olympic games. The Agapé Hub is one of five galleries around Paris taking part in an exhibition centered around Art and Faith.

Though the title and theme are still in process, the network of galleries hope to create a cohesive idea. The goal within the shared theme is that viewers are encouraged to attend all five galleries. Each gallery will spark conversations around the Christian faith.

Because the theme encourages viewers to attend each gallery located around the city, it gives the galleries the opportunity to showcase their unique styles and neighborhood cultures.

“Agapé Hub strives to be a communal place, offering more than just visual arts,” says Irwin. “We really look forward to making that known to the community during the Olympics.”

cultural opportunity Paris

More Than a Gallery, a Cultural Opportunity

Irwin is in charge of organizing the gallery that will take place specifically at Agapé Hub. Her hope is to bring in Christian artists from across France, but is considering what it may look like to include international artists, as well. Irwin aspires for the gallery to create a cultural opportunity for visitors and locals to experience more than just athletics during the 2024 Olympics.

“We know there will be people looking for activities between events and places like the Louvre or famous cafes may be full,” she says. “This will still give people the chance to have a cultural experience while also stirring up conversation around faith and art.”

For Irwin, this project has been an incredible step of faith. She was presented with the idea of a gallery to coincide with the Olympics last September, just five months after developing a partnership with the association.

cultural opportunity Paris: Emilee Irwin

“Each step is a step of faith because it’s new. This is true for me, but also true for the association.”

Emilee Irwin, GEM Arts Impact Zone Leader

Irwin explains that this is the first time the Agapé Hub will be hosting a gallery during a city-wide event of this magnitude.

“It presents some new challenges,” she admits. “We are having to sort out logistics for artists, transportation, but also consider difficulties in accessibility and security.” It is anticipated that security will be heightened and transport altered during the event, including zones of the city that are closed off to vehicle transport for certain events.

Regardless of the challenges, Irwin remains hopeful about what is to come.

“I keep saying yes to what God has,” she says, “and He continues to move us forward.”

About the author/photographer: Emma Turner is a Storyteller with Greater Europe Mission in Paris, France. Emma joined GEM in 2019 and moved to Paris in 2022 to serve vulnerable women in an urban setting.