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France/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.2 Overall description of the system

According to the first article of the Constitution, "France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic (…) It shall be organised on a decentralised basis". The President of the Republic is the head of the State. The President is elected for a term of five years by direct universal suffrage. He appoints the Prime Minister, who is responsible for forming the government and whose task it is to define and implement the nation's policies, which are submitted to the people's representatives of the French Parliament, composed of two houses: the National Assembly and the Senate.

Within the government, the Minister of Culture and Communication participates in the preparation and implementation of national policies and is specifically responsible for cultural affairs. The Minister defines the overall priorities and guidelines, exercises political authority over the directorates and other services of the Ministry, and, accordingly, decides how funds are to be distributed between the directorates and oversees their allocation. This distribution is organised in the project of the budget that is presented to the Parliament.

A certain number of other ministries allocate substantial funds to the provision of cultural services: for the education and training of students and for educational museums in the field of history and natural sciences (Ministry of Education and Research); within the framework of public education and animation (Ministry of Health, Youth and Sports), for certain cultural heritage (monuments and museums under the Ministry of Defence), for the export of French culture abroad (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and for scientific and technical culture (Industry, Agriculture), etc.

France is a decentralised State. The country comprises different types of autonomous territorial authorities that have their own directly elected assemblies and governments: regions (regional councils), départements / counties (departmental councils) and communes / cities (municipal councils). They are not answerable to the State and, in compliance with the laws of the Republic, are independent of each other. France's devolution laws define each council's scope of activity.

These devolved authorities set up their own cultural administrations that are the first partner of the Minister's decentralised bodies (DRAC). Territorial authorities also create cultural institutions and organisms to implement their cultural policies: executive agencies for music and dance, regional agencies for performing arts, cultural observatories, etc.

In 1960 several communes associated to create the National Federation of Territorial Authorities for Culture (Fédération nationale des collectivités territoriales pour la culture, FNCC). The FNCC nowadays gathers more than 450 territorial authorities. Moreover, the main syndicates that federate of territorial authorities according to their category (associations des maires de France -AMF-, des départements -ADF- et des régions -ARF-, etc.) set up speicif committees that deal with cultural policies and issues.

In 2003 an interregional platform for cultural development was created to facilitate networking and conducting common policies in the field of performing arts (see chapter 9.2). The General Inspectorate realised a report on the regional agencies for performing arts in 2011 (available online on the ministry's site).

The State central and decentralised services, the devolved administrations and bodies jointly conduct cultural policies in France, in the framework of a cooperative and agreement-based inter-institutional system.

Chapter published: 08-05-2017

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