3.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy
France organises cultural events in co-operation with foreign embassies (see also chapter 3.4.1). For particular celebrations (e.g. "Year of Brazil", "France in China", the centenary of diplomatic relations between France and Korea), intergovernmental cooperation are pursued and lead to exchanges of artists, literary translations, a catalogue of films, exhibitions etc.
Foreign cultural institutions located in France present their culture and arts to the French public. The most famous is the Institute of the Arab World (IMA), which is the fruit of a partnership between France and twenty-two Arab countries: Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.
IMA, which has foundation status, was originally designed to show and present Arab culture. Nowadays, it has become a true "cultural bridge" between France and the Arab World. Open to the public since 1987, IMA has three main objectives:
Other institutions also promote foreign cultures such as the Musée des civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée (in Marseilles), the Guimet Museum (Asian arts) or the Musées des Arts Premiers. Regarding the performing arts, the presence of foreign artists in France is a normal and ongoing reality (actors, musicians, dancers, poets, writers, and personalities from the theatre...).
Local authorities have the statutory duty to engage in "external actions"; this right has been recognised by the Prime Minister in 1983 (before local authorities carried out the activities issued by the state). Within this framework, the local authorities engage in economic and cultural promotion, emergency interventions or of solidarity. Since 1992, the local authorities can also engage in "decentralised co-operation" with foreign regional and local authorities. These are formalised through specific conventions and based on the principle of "double reserve" that they respect the international engagements of France and that the partner is not a sovereign state. Local actors can be networks, general practitioners or sets of themes, on a European or world level.
Local authorities are also involved in transborder or interregional co-operation, in particular through European Community programmes. All aspects of international co-operation undertaken by local authorities are governed by the recent Law Oudin, adopted on 27 January 2005. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs supports local authorities in these types of actions by co-financing and mobilising the services of the external network of France. A new Division for the External Action of Local Communities was created in 2006 within the Directorate-General of International Co-operation and of Development (DGCID). A national Commission for decentralised co-operation was also created, which forms a privileged instrument of dialogue between the state and the local communities on this subject.
All of the régions in France, more than three-quarters of the départements, almost all of the large cities and urban communities, many small municipalities and a growing number of inter-municipal structures are involved in projects of international co-operation, which makes it difficult to specify the number of cultural projects undertaken. On the one hand, a certain number of projects comprise a cultural dimension, e.g. those linked to tourism, development, etc, and on the other hand, all of these projects express a great heterogeneity. The database of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has a list of thirty-five projects which were undertaken specifically in the cultural field in 2007.
France has set up a French cultural network abroad, composed of the French institutes, the French cultural centres and the Alliance Française. Closely associated to the work of the embassies, this network promotes cultural diversity through dialogue and cultural exchanges, as well as the promotion of training in the French language, the participation in debates of ideas, documentation on France and studies in France.
A new international Agency of Museums was created in 2007 to provide support to the various French museums abroad projects, such as the Louvre in Abu Dhabi and to support the national and international development of French museums.
Masters level courses in the field of culture and arts training include a European or international dimension, which is supported by specific modules and possibilities for students to spend a few months abroad. France also takes part in large programmes of international university networks. The University Agency of Francophonie (AUF) has a membership of 658 higher education and research institutions, and has set up a programme entitled "French Language, cultural and linguistic diversity", which crosses all the continents. The MEDA (Mesures d'accompagnement) programme is the European Union's financial arm within the Barcelona Process which aims at implementing the measures of co-operation intended to help Mediterranean third countries to reform their economic and social structures and to mitigate the effects of economic development in relation to social and environmental concerns. It also has a cultural dimension that crosses over to other programmes addressing the Mediterranean.
Table 1: State expenditure for the promotion of French culture abroad: estimated for "culture and communication", in million euros, 2005-2007
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Cultural and scientific activity: French language and culture, linguistic and cultural diversity
Ministry of Culture and Communication
International cultural action
International French information channels
Source: Document de Politique Transversale, External State Action - Action extérieure de l'Etat, PLF 2007.
LFI: Loi de finances initiales (Initial finance law, budget voted by the Parliament).
PLF Projet de loi de finances (Bill of finances, established by the ministries to be subjected to the vote of the Parliament).
1. The corresponding amounts were not entered in the external state action until 2006.
2. From 2006.