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France/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.3 Associations of citizens, advocacy groups, NGOs and advisory panels

A very large number of associations and other non-governmental organisations operate in the field of arts and culture in France. For instance the coordination of culture and communication federations and associations (Cofac: federates more than 40 000 cultural associations. The federal union of cultural structures (Ufisc : gathers federations and unions from the performing arts sector.

Even though it is not easy to develop statistics on the associative scene because of its complexity and its diversity, various studies illustrate certain trends:

In 2011, one in every five associations was engaged in cultural activity. Of these 267 000 cultural associations, 35 100 employed at least one paid worker, with the rest being supported by a purely voluntary workforce. Cultural associations employ some 169 000 paid workers, representing 9.4% of all paid association employees. Cultural associations employ the equivalent of 189 000 full-time jobs on a voluntary basis. In 2011, the total budget for all cultural associations was calculated at EUR 8.3 billion. In monetary terms, cultural associations are worth more or less the same in terms of jobs as within the associative economy as a whole, i.e. 9.7%. The average cultural association's budget is EUR 31 000, less than half the average association's budget, due to their smaller size.

Cultural associations are less dependent on public finance (40%) than the average (49%). More specifically, they have less access to public procurement and their financing generally comes in the form of subsidies. Municipalities are, more than for the other associative sectors, behind a large proportion of subsidies, particularly for those associations that do not have paid employees. The majority of cultural associations play a major or secondary role in either organising or hosting live entertainment.

In 2012, among the 1.3 million associations in France, we notice the following trends:

  • 23% of the associations that are declared in the Gazette (official journal) from 2009 to 2012 operate in the domain "culture, practice of artistic and cultural activities";
  • membership of the cultural associations represent 8% of the total of 23 million French people (46% of the population) who are members of an association;
  • about 12% of the associations that employ staff are cultural associations, and they employ 3.3% of association employees; 96% of the proposed contracts are short-term contracts; and
  • the reduction in public financing since 2009 particularly impacts the cultural associations (as well as those in the domains of sport and leisure). In 2012, 55% of those in charge of cultural associations considered that the financial situation of their association was difficult (18% found it very difficult).

Besides, numerous advisory or consultative bodies that gather experts, professionals from civil society and administrative personnel, work with the departments of the Ministry of Culture and Communication in all the domains of cultural policy. The annex to the Finance Bill for 2016 lists around 50 bodies of this type in the cultural sector ( Many committees and commissions also exist at territorial level, to help allocate aids and subsidies, and to define public procurement orders: Regional Funds for Museum Acquisition (Fonds régionaux d'acquisition des musées, FRAM), Regional Funds for Library Acquisition (Fonds régionaux d'acquisition des bibliothèques, FRAB), Regional Funds of Contemporary Art (Fonds régionaux d'art contemporain), advisory committees placed in the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (DRAC) (experts in music and dance, advisory committee for theatre, committee of heritage and sites, etc.)

Chapter published: 17-07-2018

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