2.3 Cultural policy objectives
Since the creation of the Ministry in 1959, two mainstream and crosscutting objectives have oriented and motivated the cultural policies conducted in France by the different authorities and governments.
On the one hand, the objective of cultural democratisation, which characterises the policy of the Malraux Ministry and aims at widespread access to a conventional offer that is considered to be representative of high culture, of heritage and artistic excellence: opening of Maisons de la Culture in the 1960s, low or free entrance fees to the national cultural institutions, actions to expand the cultural audiences. For instance in 1963 the Greek tragedy The Persians by Aeschylus was broadcasted on public television at peak viewing time. More recently in 2009 the Ministry of Culture granted free entrance to the permanent collections of national museums and national monuments, for those aged under 26 living in the European Union.
On the other hand, from the 1970s-1980s, this approach that could be considered to be restrictive and sometimes elitist, was complemented by the cultural democracy approach, which expands the content and the consideration of expressions and artistic and cultural requests in all their diversity, with no hierarchical approach: widening of the ministry's scope of activities, support to emerging practices or creative disciplines that could have been previously considered to be "minor art", like street and circus arts, comics, fashion and decorative arts, jazz, "current or non-classical music" [musiques actuelles].
In this context, cultural development refers to the search for balance between these two regimes of cultural policy, with no elitism or demagogy, in order to reconcile high standards and openness.
The first article of the Decree n° 2012-776 of 24 May 2012, which is adapted from the "founding decree" of July 24th 1959 by André Malraux, states the main assignments and missions of the Minister of Culture and Communication:
Thus, since its creation, one of the essential missions of the Ministry of Culture and Communication has been to encourage access to and participation in both heritage and the works of contemporary creativity. But the evolution of cultural and socio-economic life has had an impact on the evolution of the objectives of cultural policy: for instance in the 2012 decree, the question of digital cultural contents and services was added. At the same time, despite such technological developments, the political vision remains focused on reaching new audiences for all forms of cultural expression. That is why audience development appears to be one of the first objectives of cultural policy, and all the recent Ministers have stated that cultural and artistic education is one of their priorities.