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France/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.4 Direct professional co-operation

Professional training and exchange schemes

The vitality of France's cultural scene and its experience in cultural administration and management give rise to a significant demand for co-operation (in the form of expertise and training) with foreign governments and culture operators. In addition to the programmes "Courants" (Streams) and "Formation Internationale Culture" (International Cultural Training), a number of directorates and institutions of the Ministry of Culture and Communication provide training for foreign professionals, and numerous expert missions covering a wide range of fields are organised each year.

The Ministry of Culture have long developed specific hosting and training schemes for foreign culture professionals and artists: training courses, work placements, workshops and meetings in all the sectors of culture. Since 1992, about 2 700 persons participated in these schemes, which are operated by the World Cultures Institute (see chapter 3.4.2) for the Ministry. Several types of programmes are proposed:

  • training courses: "stages courants du Monde", three weeks in November in the field of cultural administration, archives, libraries and financing of the culture; or technical placements proposed by the directorates and departments of the ministry;
  • individual stays of three-week duration, in various domains as museums and heritage, or short-term stays (European seminar of curators), also within the framework of the programme "courants du Monde";
  • immersion and long-term professional stays, from three months to one year in a cultural public institution (programme "Profession Culture");
  • residencies in Cultural Exchange Centres (see chapter 3.4.2) (programme Odyssée) or in institutions of contemporary arts; and
  • grants for professional stays and residencies ("heritage" grants, grants for authors and  translators).

There are databases to facilitate the welcome of foreign artists and culture professionals, in particular:

  • this site was created under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture to inform culture professionals about the administrative, fiscal or legal formalities to be carried out to host foreigners; and
  • the association "Pépinières européennes pour jeunes artistes" listed, in the field of performing arts, discipline by discipline (writing, theatre, story-telling, circus and street arts, puppetry, music, dance, multidisciplinary forms, song), the cultural institutions that welcome foreign artists in residence. This information is available on the website of the association.

The French experience regarding arts administration and cultural policy is also valued by the organisation of Meetings Malraux (Rencontres Malraux, sending of French experts abroad) and of study trips (reception of foreign delegations and organisation of meetings with experts in France), which both respond to the request of countries that wish to benefit from French expertise and advice in various cultural domains (heritage policies, museums, archives, cinema, visual arts, performing arts, books). The Meetings Malraux, created in 1994, are organised together with the foreign authorities (Ministry of Culture or equivalent body) and with the cultural department of the embassy of France in the host country. The material organisation is run by the host country authorities, and the French Ministry of Culture provides the costs for experts and travelling costs.

By 2012, 74 Meetings Malraux were organised in 48 countries:

Albania (2004), Argentina (in 1996, 2001), Bahrain (2005), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1997), Brazil (in 1995, 2009), Bulgaria (in 2003, 2007), Canada (1997), Chile (1995), China (1998), Colombia (in 1995, 1997, 2003, in 2005), South Korea (1996), Croatia (in 2002, 2007, 2009), Spain (2004), Estonia (2003), The United States (2008) Georgia (1999), Guatemala (1998), Hungary (in 1996, 2004), Iran (2009), Israel (in 1997, 2000), Italy (1999), Latvia (2008), Lebanon (2002), Lithuania (2001), Macedonia (in 1997, 2004), Morocco (1995), Mexico (in 2004, 2007), Montenegro (2001), Norway (in 2002, 2009), Palestine (1995), Panama (2000), Paraguay (1998), Portugal (2008), Dominican Republic (1999), Czech Republic (1998), Romania (in 2006, 2009), the United Kingdom (2002), Senegal (1997), Serbia (in 2007, 2008), Seychelles (2001), Slovakia (2001), Singapore (2012), Switzerland (2003), Syria (2004), Taiwan (in 1995, 1996, 2001, two in 2002, 2006, 2008), Thailand (2004), Ukraine (in 1997, 2005), Venezuela (1994).

In the field of heritage, the Ministry of Culture launched a project of lifelong learning on material and immaterial heritage for the French-speaking / Francophone countries, in partnership with the Academic Agency of La Francophonie ( AUF) and the World Francophone Digital University (Université Numérique Francophone Mondiale, UNFM: the E-patrimoines programme, which proposes training units on various themes (fight against the illicit traffic of cultural property, preventive conservation…)

The Chaillot School (created in 1887) is the department of training of the Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine (National Establishment of Architecture and Heritage). The School provides training courses for architects' abroad (Bulgaria, Syria, Morocco…) and brings its support to the regional training centre for heritage professions in Cambodia, to train Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese architects about heritage, on the site of Angkor.

The National Institute of Heritage (Institut national du patrimoine, INP), which is an academy for the heritage professions, organises, in partnership with the Ministry, a series of European Heritage Meetings, on themes such as: the major restoration sites in Europe, Venice and the Mediterranean Sea, Heritage and immaterial economy, digitalisation of the written heritage, for a global approach to heritage. The INP also leads international actions through its two training departments: department of Curators and department of Restorers.

The General Directorate of Heritage of the Ministry regularly organises a seminar on African heritages, in Paris. The notion of African heritages covers at the same time: built elements of architecture, heritages that are not kept in museums (family heritage), manuscripts in Arabic in the "city-libraries" (Mauritania, Mali and Niger in particular), photographic archives, oral heritage (oral tradition, musical recordings), monetary heritage, etc. In 2012, the seminar dealt with the heritage of African kingdoms and empires: between public and private heritage; in 2011 the theme was African cities and their heritages and in 2010 the theme was "Forgotten Heritages in Africa". Following the earthquake of 2010 in Haiti, the General Directorate designed a programme entitled "Heritages for Haiti" to recover built heritage, museums and archives.

Cooperation between institutions and establishments

The major heritage institutions such as the museums (Louvre, Guimet, Quai Branly) share their expertise with their foreign partners, and also contribute to the advocacy of foreign cultures in France by the organisation of high-profile exhibitions. In the field of visual arts, Centre Pompidou and CNAP (National Centre for Visual Arts) are closely linked to numerous partners.

There is a specific inter-ministerial cooperation agreement with Canada to establish and maintain privileged and long-lasting links between Canadian and French museums, to improve the professional skills thanks to the exchange of good practices, and to foster the implementation of joint projects (see the page on the site of the French Committee of the ICOM).

A new stage in the internationalisation of establishments is the project Louvre Abu Dhabi: the realisation and the development of a universal museum, designed by Jean Nouvel, which will open in Abu Dhabi in 2014. France and United Arab Emirates signed, in 2007, an intergovernmental agreement, which organises this operation of cultural cooperation over 30 years. The France Museum Agency was created to conduct the project. The agency associates twelve French cultural public institutions and intervenes in the following domains:

  • the definition of the scientific and cultural project;
  • global assistance including for museography, signage and multimedia projects;
  • organisation of loans from French collections and temporary exhibitions;
  • advice on the constitution of a permanent collection; and
  • the definition of the audience policy.

When it opens, and for a period of 10 years, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will receive on loan some works from French public collections (300 in the first years, then 250 and 200). Besides that, for fifteen years, French partners will supply annually the Louvre Abu Dhabi with four exhibitions. Finally, French partners will assist the museum in constituting its own collection, in order to progressively replace the works lent by the French museums. Twenty works were already acquired. The United Arab Emirates agreed to pay about a billion EUR over thirty years, which will benefit to the Musée du Louvre and to the other partner museums in the operation.

The major institutions of performing arts (National Opera, Comédie Française, Odéon, Cité de la Musique, etc.) regularly invite troupes and orchestras from all over the world and organise tours abroad.

In 2008, ONDA (see chapter 3.4.2) launched the programme Space (Supporting the Performing Arts Circulation in Europe), to fight against the persistent imbalance between countries, regions, artists, disciplines and places of circulation of performing arts. The different objectives of the programme are:

  • on-line publishing of Travelogue, an instrument to link and share data on international performing arts touring that are collected by institutions all over Europe, so as to support the circulation of performing arts in Europe;
  • organise training sessions and exchanges, in particular for young professionals; and
  • support the institutional capacity building of the stakeholders from performing arts, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe.

The programme is developed in collaboration Vlaams Theatre Instituut (Brussels), Theatre Instituut Nederlands (Asmterdam), ITI (Berlin), New Institute of the Theatre (Riga), the British Council (London), Graft Teatrale Italiano (Rome), Pro Helvetia (Zurich), the Red House (Sofia), and the Institute of the Arts and the Theatre (Prague). The programme benefits from a financing by the European Union.

Institutions of higher education under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture (higher schools of architecture, art, cinema, academies of dramatic art, music and dance) welcome numerous students and foreign professors, whose networking fosters French cultural influence in the world.

In the field of broadcasting, the National Centre for Cinema (CNC) and the National Institute of Broadcasting (Institute national de l'audiovisuel) lead international actions. In the field of the cultural industries, institutions like the National Book Centre (Centre national du livre, CNL) or the National Library (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, BNF) are also particularly active at international level. In 2010, the National Library donated 500 000 French-speaking works to Biblioteca Alexandrina to reinforce the partnership between both institutions. These institutions work closely with international-focused sectorial organisations: Unifrance Films, Bureau international de l'édition française (International bureau of French publishing), Bureau export for music (see chapter 3.4.2).

Inter-professional networks

The international networks considerably multiplied in the last years and constitute essential tools for the durability of cooperation policies in the cultural domains.

The Ministry of Culture favours new initiatives, or participates directly in several international projects and networks, some of which are also supported by the European Union, by the Council of Europe or UNESCO: Culture-Action-Europe, International network for contemporary performing arts (IETM), Trans Europe Halles (European Network of Independent Cultural Centres), International Network on Cultural Policy (INCP), Banlieues d'Europe, Les Rencontres, CIRCLE-Cultural information and Research Centres Liaison in Europe, ENCACT-European network of Administration Training Centres, etc.

In the field of heritage, various networks or platforms exist, like the European Heritage Network (HEREIN), the European Heritage Heads Forum (EHHF), the European Heritage Legal Forum (EHLF), the Europae Archaeologiae Consilium (EAC), the Alliance of Cultural European Cities (8 French cities members or associated), or the European Forum for Architectural Policies, etc.

The Ministry of Culture also supports professional organisations that can increase the influence of French culture in the world and advocate cultural diversity: International Council of museums (ICOM), International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), International Council of Archives (ICA), International Union of Architects (IUA), International Commission of Francophone Theatre (CITF), etc.

Additional resources:

Mobility trends and case studies

Examples of mobility schemes for artists and cultural professionals in France

Chapter published: 18-05-2017

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