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France/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.3 European / international actors and programmes

Numerous programmes exist, involving stakeholders at all levels of public and private action in France, to favour and foster European and international cultural cooperation, including:

European Heritage Label is a scheme to highlight heritage sites that celebrate and symbolise European integration, ideals and history. It was launched in 2006 by the European Commission, following an initiative of the French Ministry of Culture. The label emphasises the European dimension of cultural monuments, natural or urban sites and commemorative sites. An interactive publication of the European sites that received this label was realised within the framework of an intergovernmental initiative.

France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement (see chapter 3.4.2). This agreement, by which France provides financial and technical aid to UNESCO members, is used as a lever to mobilise complementary aids for identification, protection and preservation of heritage. Over the last 15 years, approximately 100 have been undertaken in more than 50 countries throughout the world. With a budget of approximately 3.7 million EUR UNESCO has been able to mobilise more than 18 million EUR in the framework of the France-UNESCO cooperation agreement.

Programme "Creative Africa and Caribbean" (Afrique et Caraïbes en creation). This programme of the French Institute, allows the artistic expressions of the Global South countries to showcase in their own territories and to be present in international markets. The programme supports a range of major events that aim to be professional platforms: the biennale "Danse l'Afrique Danse", "Les Rencontres de Bamako" (photography), "La biennale Danses Caraïbe", "L'Afrique est à la Mode", etc..

Operations for the promotion of contemporary creation supported by the French Institute: Baltic Sounds French for contemporary music, France Danse for contemporary dance or Paris Calling, in London, for contemporary art. There are also exchanges between galleries (Berlin-Paris) or between multidisciplinary festivals (Croisements, in China).

Platform Focus of the French Institute, which since 2008 allows foreign artistic bookers and schedulers to discover the recent creations of artists living in France, in cooperation with a recognised international festival ( is an innovative type of festival, on-line, which is implemented by Unifrance Films and gives Internet users from all over the world the opportunity to discover and appreciate French cinema.

Cinémas du Monde Pavilion. Located at the heart of Cannes Film Festival's international village, the pavilion is a unique venue dedicated to world cinema (from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Near and Middle East) and a platform for working and networking opportunities. The pavilion is run by the Institut Français in partnership with the International Organisation of La Francophonie and the Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France (see chapter 4.2.6).

Cinémathèque Afrique (Africa Film Library), created in 1961 within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It insures the preservation and the distribution of African film heritage and constitutes one of the most complete collections of African movies from the 1960s.

Conservatoire itinérant de danse classique: aimed particularly at countries with a strong classical tradition or with their own major repertory companies, this travelling dance academy is particularly active in northern Asia, and in China in particular. In 2010, the Conservatoire and the Canton Ballet together created a version of Coppélia choreographed by Charles Jude, Director of the Opéra de Bordeaux Ballet.

Public-private partnerships

  • bilateral funds to which France and its partners contribute with private funding, for instance Étant Donnés, the French-American Fund for Contemporary Art that has made it possible to develop French projects across the United States; and
  • the Marcel Duchamp Prize launched in 2000 as part of a partnership between the Association for the International Diffusion of French Art (ADIAF), a group of collectors, and the Centre Georges Pompidou. In 2011, for example, the works of some of the past prizewinners were exhibited at the Mori Museum in Tokyo and later in South Korea.

Support programmes for the book and publishing sector, run by the French Institute, the Ministry of Culture and the National Book Centre: presence in book fairs abroad; aids for translation and distribution of French editorial products; training of new generations of translators of French; residency grants for the international College of literary translators in Arles (Collège international des traducteurs littéraires  d'Arles, CITL:; implementation of databases on the works translated in foreign languages (,,; support to the French-speaking editorial corporations and networks; the journal and centre of resources, covering authors, publishers and major cultural events in the Francophone Global South.

Support to the media libraries in the French cultural network abroad: staff training; creation of Bureaux du Livre and media libraries, development of digital technology with the Culturethèque platform or IFVerso (a database of over 70 000 titles translated from French into some forty other languages, presented in the form of a social network).

Alembert Fund, run by the French Institute, to encourage intellectual debate and "soft" diplomacy, to disseminate information on new intellectual scenes in France (particularly in the field of human and social sciences) to academic networks abroad, and to organise subsequent events.

Priority Solidarity Fund of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the cultural field this fund provides support to authors, publishers, distributors and bookshops in Francophone areas:

  • aid with licensing and joint North / South publishing is helping publishers in the French-speaking Global South (Africa and Caribbean) to license the rights to works by their native authors already published in France, so that they can be published and distributed at prices affordable for the local market; and
  • a specific product line, "100 titres pour Haïti" (100 titles for Haiti), has been created to support the publication of fiction and non-fiction works by Haitian authors.

Every year at the Paris Book Fair, a bookshop from the Global South (Africa and the Caribbean) is selected to act as a showcase for Francophone literature.

The Franco-German Fund in third party countries

Set up in 2003 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Treaty of Élysée, this fund is an instrument to emphasise the cultural cooperation between France and Germany in third party countries by means of concrete projects in the fields of visual arts, theatre, cinema, broadcasting, sports, intellectual debate, literature and language learning. The programme provides a flexible and original formula that extends beyond Franco-German cooperation to involve other European countries and convey the image of a Europe united around culture. As an added advantage, pooling the resources of the two countries leads to cost savings and has a positive impact on fundraising. Moreover, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Élysée, in 2012 the DEPS department of the Ministry of Culture and Goethe Institute launched a series of conferences on the theme "Cultures croisées. Politiques culturelles françaises et allemandes" ("Crossed cultures. French and German cultural policies").

Artist residency programmes in France and abroad

  • stays abroad for French writers, artists and culture professionals, as proposed in the programmes of the French Institute "Villa Médicis Hors Les Murs" (Villa Medici Extra Muros) or "Villa Kujoyama" (which is the name of the artists' residence associated with the French Institute of Japon-Kansai);
  • hosting of established or emergent foreign writers and artists in the Centre International d'Accueil et d'Échanges des Récollets and in the Cité Internationale des Arts, both located in Paris;
  • close on 350 creative artists on the French and international scene have benefited from a residency in the course of their career;
  • 100 one-off grants are made every year to French artists, or artists resident in France for at least five years, to fund a residency abroad; and
  • 100 other grants are made to foreign artists as part of the residency programmes set up with a number of different partners, including the City of Paris.

Portal of world performances (Portail des spectacles du monde), dedicated to the traditional performances of the world (in music, dance, theatre, rites). Realised by the Cité de la Musique, the World Cultures Institute (see chapter 3.4.2), the Quai Branly Museum, the théâtre de la Cité and the festival Les Orientales with the support of the Ministry of Culture:

Cultural Festivals, Seasons and Years

These events have been, for more than 25 years, a trademark of French cultural engineering and expertise, and they are high profile tools of soft diplomacy. There can be different types: years (from 8 to 12 months); seasons (from 3 to 6 months); and festivals (from 1 to 3 months).

They are implemented by the French Institute, in collaboration with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture. The events programming, established in conjunction with foreign governments and agencies, is designed to:

  • showcase and enhance the image of both France and the partner countries;
  • promote better mutual knowledge and understanding;
  • highlight the vitality of exchanges in the fields of culture, education and academic research, but also in technology, science, industry, commerce and gastronomy; and
  • encourage new encounters and new initiatives intended to expand the scope of dialogue and cooperation.

The current trends of evolution are:

  • a generalisation of "crossed" seasons and years (such as France-China, France-Brazil, France-Russia, France-South Africa, France-Vietnam) to favour intercultural dialogue; and
  • the development of city-to-city partnership: tandem Paris-Buenos Aires in 2011 for example.

Overview of the cultural seasons and years since 1985

  • Année de l'Inde (1985-86)
  • Rendez-vous avec les Îles Philippines (1994-95)
  • La Saison tunisienne (1994-95)
  • L'Imaginaire irlandais (1996)
  • Le Printemps palestinien (1997)
  • La Saison jordanienne (1997)
  • Année du Japon en France, Année de la France au Japon (1997-98)
  • France Égypte, Horizons Partagés (1997-98)
  • Le Printemps vietnamien (1998)
  • Regards sur la culture géorgienne (1998)
  • Israël au Miroir des artistes (1998)
  • Le Printemps du Québec, le Feu sous la Glace (1999)
  • Regards sur la Culture ukrainienne (1999)
  • Le Temps du Maroc (1999)
  • Magyart, Saison culturelle hongroise (2001)
  • La France au Québec / la saison (2001)
  • Bohemia Magica, une saison tchèque (2002)
  • Djazaïr, une saison algérienne (2003)
  • Année de la Chine en France (octobre 2003-2004)
  • Nova Polska, une saison polonaise en France (2004)
  • L'Islande - Islande de glace et de feu (2004)
  • Année de la France en Chine (2004 - 2005)
  • Brésil, Brésils (2005)
  • Étonnante Lettonie (2005)
  • Francofffonies, festival francophone en France (2006)
  • Corée au cœur : 120 ans de relations diplomatiques (2006)
  • Tout à fait Thaï, festival thaïlandais en France (2006)
  • Arménie, mon amie (2006-2007)
  • Haut les Pays-Bas, saison néerlandaise (2007)
  • Pourquoi pas ? Un Printemps français en Islande (2007)
  • Un Printemps français en Lettonie (2007)
  • 100% Finlande, un festival finlandais en France (2008)
  • France-Québec, quatre siècles de fraternité (2008)
  • 150e anniversaire des relations diplomatiques France-Japon (2008)
  • La Saison Culturelle Européenne (2008)
  • Année de la France au Brésil (2009)
  • Saison de la Turquie en France (2009-2010)
  • Année France-Russie (2010)
  • Estonie tonique, Festival Estonien à Paris et en Île-de-France (2011)
  • Croatie, la voici, Festival de la Croatie en France (2012)
  • Tandem Paris-Berlin (2012)
  • Saisons croisées France - Afrique du Sud (2012-2013)
  •  France Chine 50 (2014-2015)
  • Singapour en France - le Festival (2015)
  •  Rendez-vous, Festival de la France en Croatie (2015)
  • Année France - Corée (2015-2016)
  • Tandem Paris - New York (2016)
  • Année France – Colombie (2017)
  • Année France – Israël (2018)

Chapter published: 17-07-2018

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