“We are working on a resilient model for culture”

The cross : When can cultural places hope to reopen?

Roselyne Bachelot: It is far too early to set any precise outlook. We must first assess the impact of the holidays, especially that of December 31 more prone to “slippage” than Christmas: we will have an indicator at the end of this week. Currently, while tests are decreasing, the average remains 18,000 new contaminations per day and the so-called “English” variant adds an unknown …

→ READ. Covid-19: the world of culture still tossed about in the unknown

However, we think about and build scenarios around three hypotheses. The first, unfavorable, is that of a considerable increase in cases imposing new restrictions on all of the company’s activities. The second, favorable, is that of a return to an average of 5,000 cases per day. Cultural places will then be able to reopen, in a strict health protocol with reduced gauges, barrier gestures, freezing. The third, finally, is that of maintaining the current contamination figures: for this scenario, since December 15, we have been building a resilient model for the widest possible access to culture that I will present around January 20.

The tension in France lies in the desire for adapted solutions combined with a desire for equal treatment. Cultural actors have already provided and are still ready to make a lot of effort. One can imagine that, with special measures, the museums – where the public does not park – could be the first to reopen.

Has France not been less able to preserve cultural activity than some of its neighbors?

R. B. : Countries like Belgium, Spain or Luxembourg – which has just reopened its performance venues under absolutely drastic and relatively unrealistic conditions – are the exception. Overall, places of culture are closed all over Europe. We are talking to each other between ministers of culture and I can see that the countries which have “relaxed” the effort, such as Belgium or the United Kingdom (I am not even talking about Sweden!) Are unfortunately paying for it today. ‘hui.

The crisis underlines the very great disparity of cultural actors in terms of social and economic fragility. How to prevent some from being left on the side of the road?

R. B. : France, and this is its strength, has long had large public cultural operators, it is true less weakened than those in the private sector. But I refuse to oppose each other. The Louvre, Versailles, the Paris Opera are powerful “labels” that attract visitors and tourists to us. Thanks to their visit, they can then go to a particular private theater, restaurant, monument …

The question is also not to let some “slip through the cracks” of the net and find themselves in extreme fragility. We need to identify and support those who are in the gray areas. This was the case with the tour guides, some of whom found themselves without resources and for which solutions had to be devised. You also have activities remunerated only with tips: structuring actions are needed to change their status, not only in an emergency but also in the long term.

The mobilized cultural world seems to have little relay in public opinion and few defenders in government. Has the link broken between the French and culture?

R. B. : The government is concerned and proves it by the considerable measures to support culture. There is no love but proofs of love, according to Pierre Reverdy’s formula! On the other hand, it is true that I find it unfortunate that the reflection on the cultural issues of political parties in France is weak.

As for public opinion, how can one reproach, for example, a mother, alone with two children, who travels an hour and a half morning and evening to go to work, for not being moved by the closing of theaters? 52% of French people never go to a performance venue, which proves that the question of the democratization of culture is central. However, the French have cultural activities at home, often family (television, reading, listening to music …) that it would be foolish and inconsistent to despise.

The school, which itself remains open, is it not a privileged place of cultural democratization? How to get more artists to come there?

R. B. : But they can go there as much as they want! They are welcome there. Our “cultural summer” operation was a success, with 8,000 artists involved, one million people affected, for a budget of 20 million euros. And the Culture Pass is part of the same desire. After the regional experiment, it is time to generalize the operation: it will be done in the coming months, depending on the health situation.

We are working with the Ministry of National Education to make it available to young people before they turn 18 so that, thanks to the Pass Culture application, they can move towards diversified artistic offers, accessible near their homes, and even exclusive events, designed for them by the Pass partners… 59 million euros are committed from the budget of the Ministry of Culture for 2021.

Your ministry has just allocated 10 million more for the security of cathedrals. On the stimulus plan, 80 million will go to their restoration. Can we hope, after the excitement caused by the fire of Notre-Dame, to see this effort perpetuated?

R. B. : I think it is a priority in terms of heritage. We realized, in this largely dechristianized country, that the cathedral was an emblem which went far beyond religious affiliation. It was enough to see the people gathered on the quays of Paris crying, finding the use of the prayer that they had abandoned or had never practiced …

→ ANALYSIS. Nantes fire: cathedrals, security in question

This emotion, I relived it in Nantes this summer after the fire of the Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul cathedral. This is a sign that must be taken into account. In addition, reconstruction costs much more than precautionary measures. It is therefore a good investment!

For Notre-Dame, you have pronounced a clear refusal to any inclination to install contemporary stained glass, one of the avenues studied by the diocese of Paris. Are the assignee and owner on the same page?

R. B. : The diocese had not informed us of this project. Be careful, this is not an accusation! I regret it because I would have immediately recalled the law: the stained glass windows are obviously part of the monument, they are not an element of decoration and respect for the Venice Convention implies that we leave things as they are. It is not about removing the stained glass windows in grisaille from Viollet-le-Duc. For the moment, no development project has been presented to us. I received Mgr Aupetit on my arrival, my office met Mgr de Sinety. I’m not rushing them or slowing them down, the ball is in their court for now.

Voices were raised to demand that a museum of the Work presenting the history and meaning of the cathedral be created near Notre-Dame. Can we hope for such a place?

R. B. : All this can only be done with the City of Paris and the Archdiocese. I see this with interest, but it is up to the town hall to carry the project.

In the field of press assistance, what do you expect from the mission entrusted to Laurence Franceschini?

R. B. : Its conclusions, which will be given to me on March 15, are indeed eagerly awaited. The press situation alerts us as the crisis showed to the magazine Science and Life, acquired by the Reworld Media group. In what can be called a predatory operation, the title was in a way emptied of its journalists replaced by “content managers”.

→ ANALYSIS. “Science and Life” in the grip of Reworld Media

The journalist’s daughter that I am sees it as a thorn in her flesh, especially since our time when conspiracy theories flourish, needs more than ever the work of verification and editorialization of information, in the field of popularization of science as in other sectors. Laurence Franceschini’s mission reflects on how to condition the considerable aid to the press (476 million euros) to the journalistic nature of the editorial staff.

The world of culture is splashed with criminal sexual affairs. How to strengthen prevention and assistance to victims?

R. B. : First of all, I would like to reaffirm that we must always denounce these crimes: this is the only way to help the victims. It’s a cause that has been part of me for many years. As Minister, I must distinguish two realities. On the one hand, the accusations against people not under my authority. On the other hand, those which involve structures which depend on it and, there, as was the case for a young lyric artist a few months ago, I am without pity! To keep silent about a crime is to be an accomplice in it. Thursday, January 14, the Ministry of Culture and the entire government will also present a plan to combat sexual violence.


9 billion euros in aid for culture and the media

The government estimates at 9 billion euros its support since the start of the coronavirus crisis for the culture and media sector.

This amount includes 5 billion euros transversal aids (guaranteed loans, solidarity fund, partial unemployment benefits, exemptions from social contributions, etc.) and 949 million euros for the “white year” extending the right to intermittent shows.

1.1 billion euros was disbursed by the Ministry of Culture for emergency sector aid measures.

2 billion euros were allocated to the cultural sector in the recovery plan, or 2% of the total amount of 100 billion.


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