In the framework of “generalised contractualisation of cultural policy”, most of the public subsidies and grants are bound by specific agreements between territorial authorities, between the authorities and cultural institutions, in particular the institutions that hold a special title (see chapter 1.1 and chapter 1.2.6). Nonetheless, many subsidies like grants to artists (to projects, to creation, etc.) do not require specifications or agreements (agreement is compulsory for any subsidy greater than 23 000 EUR). The legal conditions of the allocation of public funds pertain to different legislative and regularity fields.
Concerning public expenditure, French law makes a major distinction between the authority that approves the expense (ordonnateur) on the one hand, and the management accounting authority (comptable) on the other hand. This principle was updated and reaffirmed by decree no 2012-1246 of 7 November 2012 on the budget and public management accounting. The approving authority, which is the executive authority of the budget (mayor, president of regional or county council, minister, director of institution or department, etc.), agrees to undertake expenditure and collect receipts, but cannot have access to public funds. The public accountant carries out the orders but is not subordinated to the requesting authority. The accountant is personally responsible for these operations and is a State civil servant from the staff of the Accountants of Treasury (comptables du Trésor).