The Princes of Monaco have supported the arts since the 18th century, thus giving the Principality a greater cultural influence in comparison to its small territory.
A symbol of this success is the Monte Carlo Opera, built in 1879 by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Paris Opera. This prestigious opera house very soon achieved great international renown due to a policy of operatic, symphonic and choreographic creations, and it hosted famous performances of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. This was an outstanding period of cultural activity when a large number of the great 20th century artists, composers, painters and choreographers converged on the Principality, among them Stavisky, Ravel, Braque, Cocteau, De Chirico, Fokine, Balanchine and others.
True to this tradition, Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace gave new life to Monégasque culture, notably with the re-creation of the Ballet in 1985.
Since 1997, the government has made a strong commitment to the arts, allocating around 5% of the annual budget to culture and by issuing a cultural plan each year.
The state focuses on developing a cultural programme of high quality, with an emphasis on music, an ambitious plan for special facilities and a heritage conservation project. Created in 1966, the Directorate of Cultural Affairs continues its remit of proposing measures designed to enhance the intellectual and artistic life of the State.
The Principality reinforces its status as a cultural dominion by actively participating in many international cultural organisations such as UNESCO, the International Organisation of la Francophonie and the Council of Europe.
Main features of the current cultural policy model
Since the Principality is a city-state, its government focuses on achieving a balance between state interventionism, notably the support given to its cultural institutions and the development of private initiatives, such as the organisation of cultural events and sponsorship.
Cultural policy objectives
The cultural policy of the Princely Government helped to enhance the international influence of the Principality.
In particular, the state focuses on strengthening the quality of the programmes offered by the main cultural institutions and on widening the areas in which culture is expressed in the Principality. Apart from the Philharmonic Orchestra, the Opera and the Monte Carlo Ballet, prestigious events are also organised in different culture sectors such as fine arts, circus and audiovisual arts.
The government also promotes local and international contemporary creation by supporting associations and artists and by organising exhibitions and other events.
In order to preserve and highlight its heritage, the Principality works to diversify and increase the quality of its museums. Laws regarding heritage are currently being re-examined according to the international cultural conventions (see chapter 3.1).