The programmes and policies that foster cultural practices and participation follow two mainstream lines:
- cultural democratisation; and
- arts and cultural education.
The objective of cultural democratisation, which characterises the policy of the Malraux Ministry, aims at widespread access to a conventional offer that is considered to be representative of high culture, heritage and artistic excellence: opening of Maisons de la Culture (community culture and arts centres) in the 1960s, low or free entrance fees to the national cultural institutions, and actions to expand cultural audiences. For instance in 1961, the Greek tragedy The Persians by Aeschylus was broadcasted on public television at peak viewing time. More recently in 2009 the Ministry of Culture granted free entrance to the permanent collections of national museums and national monuments, for all persons under 26 living in the European Union. At the level of territorial authorities, cultural “cheques”, “cards” or “passes”, which are generally intended for young people, constitute a more recent device for cultural democratisation: in 2009 there were 18 regional schemes like this, 15 schemes set up by départements and 10 municipal or inter-municipal schemes, and about twenty more localised schemes. Unlike season tickets or subscriptions to a particular establishment, cultural cheques give access to diverse institutions (cinemas, theatres, museums, bookshops, etc.). The evaluation shows that these schemes are not only tariff tools, but that they allow a new relationship to cultural participation, based on the habituation to cultural institutions, on the development of customer loyalty, and on the extension of interests.
Official statements regularly reaffirm that arts and cultural education is a priority of cultural policies, which allow the fostering, from the early age, of individual self-fulfilment, and broadening of cultural practices, participation and audiences.