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France/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and debates  

4.2.1 Conceptual issues of policies for the arts

Support to artistic creation is one of the major axes of cultural policy, along with heritage policies and the arts and cultural education. The main issue of the policies for the arts is to give to the creators and the artists the means to freely exercise their activity, while keeping the right to supervise and control public expenditure, following the principle of democratic transparency. These policies also have to benefit the largest number of citizens.

Traditionally, public authorities (State, territorial authorities, public institutions) play an important role in France to support artists and creators, including through the acquisition of artworks. For example, public libraries can stimulate the book economy, and the commissions of the National Fund and the Regional Funds of Contemporary Art (FNAC and FRAC, see chapter 8.1.2) support creation. At the same time, the French State acts to encourage private sponsorship (cf. the creation of a sponsorship taskforce within the Ministry of Culture). A charter for the development of sponsorship was signed in 2005 between the Ministry and the Assembly of the French Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the agreement was renewed in 2009 for five years.

Paralleling the emergence of the Welfare State, public authorities tried to improve the social status of artists and creators, in order to allow them to work in the best conditions: creation of the Caisse nationale des Lettres in 1956 (nowadays the National Centre of Books and Literature), the Copyright Law of 1957, social security for artists-authors in 1964. A specific social security regime for temporary and occasional workers (intermittence) was set up in 1936 for technicians of the cinema industry and from 1969, performing artists and interpreters were also covered, and then the technicians of the performing arts. This regime, named intermittence du spectacle, allows these workers to have a particular and stable social security coverage, and professional training, despite discontinuity in their employment, which is a recurrent situation in these occupations (see chapter 4.2.9 and chapter 5.1.4).

Besides, policies for the arts have to adapt themselves to the specificities of creative processes, to the constant evolution of aesthetic forms and artistic practices. For example, at the beginning of the 2000s the ministry commissioned a report on the "New territories of art" (Nouveaux territoires de l'art), which refers to the interdisciplinary and alternative places of creation situated generally in former industrial sites, in the urban periphery, outside the traditional cultural institutions ( Measures to support these activities were set up in association with territorial authorities and other ministries. The scheme "Le Temps des arts de la rue" ("Street Arts Time"), initiated in 2005, promotes these emerging expressions, and especially the structuring of the sector with the introduction of national street arts centres (Centres nationaux des arts de la rue, CNAR) in partnership with territorial authorities ( In the same way, the launching in 2002 of the DICRéAM takes into account the evolution of the aesthetic languages (see chapter 4.2.11). The institutionalisation of the emerging or innovative artistic practices also questions the limits of administrative supervision of creative activities, which is a recurring debate of cultural policies.

In 2015 the Minister officially launched the project Médicis Clichy-Montfermeil. The objective is to create a renewed form of artistic residence, a cultural and artistic incubator in the suburbs of Paris to accommodate and support youth creation and diversity. In 2016 a new National Council for Visual Arts in Public Space was created to advise and help the action and decisions of the Ministry in this domain (public commission artworks for instance).

The 2016 law on freedom of creation, architecture and heritage (loi n° 2016-925 du 7 juillet 2016) consecrates the principle of freedom of creation and asserts the importance of protecting and guaranteeing cultural diversity (see. chapter 5.2). This legislative act occurred in a specific context: the aftermath of the terrorist attack against the press magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015.

Chapter published: 17-07-2018

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