The government reinvents the cultural exception (but in reverse)

Indiscretions, leaks, test balloons casually dropped off to take the temperature of public opinion, let’s call it what we like: in recent days, the press has been streaming with echoes of intense phosphorization sessions within the government with a view to ‘a forthcoming deconfinement of large swathes of the French economy, now that the second wave of Covid seems to be showing signs of a peak crossing.

Until this afternoon, this flow of gossip and hypotheses had the merit of consistency with the official expressions at the top of the State, since there was never any question of culture – this word singularly banned in public Macrono-Castexian lexicon for weeks. While small shops, bars and restaurants, places of worship or sports venues are beginning to see the timetable for a resumption of activity – within two weeks for some, not before mid-January for others – nothing seemed to filter through. regarding the reopening of cultural establishments. To the point that the prospect of indulging in an orgy of shopping before making face-to-face masses and confessions seemed to take shape for the end of the month, while the weaning on the side of museums, theaters and cinemas would persist.

Read alsoCastex prepares minds for post-reconfinement

Fragile glow

The horizon is perhaps finally clearing up, since we learned on Wednesday – thanks to a round table of cinema professionals brought together by French Film – that the scenario of reopening cinemas and theaters would be under study for mid-December. In the wake of which the producer and distributor Carole Scotta pleaded for it to take place even on the 2nd, so that films whose exploitation was interrupted by confinement at the end of October can resume contact with the public before being immediately stormed by the competition of end-of-year outings. Within the management of several national museums requested by Libé, we remain more measured, for lack of any sign received giving hope for anything by January.

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That a fragile light at the end of the tunnel slowly begins to appear will undoubtedly relieve the cultural industries which have been tested in recent months as never before in peacetime, even though a noticeable recovery in attendance has finally been achieved since the start of the school year. But it is necessary to wonder about the logic which would preside, if this calendar were to be confirmed, with a differentiated regime between businesses or cults on the one hand, and places of culture on the other, while we tends to jostle there rather less and that a health protocol at least as strict applies to it.

No more consistency

Perhaps this is due to the failures of national systems for tracing contamination, but no cluster known to date has been associated in France with a performance, a seated concert or a cinema screening. And when Bruno Le Maire and then Jean Castex had opposed a firm end of inadmissibility to the calls of the sector to provide a form of exemption for film buffs and theatricals during the implementation of the curfew, it was in the name of consistency and the readability of the measurements: “I think what makes the strength of a rule is its clarity and simplicity”, had swept away the Minister of the Economy, before the head of government subscribed in the same terms, both obviously deaf to the notion of cultural exception. Beautiful and commendable values, consistency, clarity, simplicity. Before turning them into a motto, it is still necessary to apply them on both sides of the tunnel.


Julien Gester

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