6. Cultural participation and consumption
Last update: November, 2016
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.
Last update: November, 2016
From the beginning of the 1970s, the Ministry of Culture and Communication regularly carries out a survey on cultural practices: Enquête sur les Pratiques culturelles des Français; which progressively become the main instrument of follow-up of the participation of French people in the field of culture and the media. The fifth edition of this Cultural Participation Survey dates from 2008, following those in 1973, 1981, 1988 and 1997. The survey scheme was identical each time: a poll with a representative sample of the population of metropolitan France aged from 15 years old, a sample stratified by regions and categories of urban area, with face-to-face interviews at the place of residence of the interviewee.
The survey covers the various forms of participation in cultural life, habits and consumptions (books and reading, listening to music, attendance at cultural establishments or events of amateur practices), while granting importance to the uses of traditional media (television, radio, press) and, since the 2008 edition, to the ICT linked to the development of digital technologies and devices.
Over a decade on from the 1997 results, those published in 2008 show the impact of ten years of change wrought by the booming digital and internet-based culture: the increasing power of screen culture, the declining popularity of television and radio among the younger generations, declining daily newspaper and book readership and developments in content production and auto-production.
The comparison of the 2008 results concerning global attendance at cultural establishments, with those of the previous survey, confirms the remarkable stability of the behaviour regarding cultural visits and outings. The "cultivated" and subsidised outings (to theatre, dance performances, concerts of classical music, fine arts and contemporary arts museums and exhibitions, historical heritage monuments) remain the privilege of the most qualified social classes. In 2008, half of French people (51%) had not attended any live performance in a cultural establishment during the previous twelve months. About 60% of French people had not visited any exhibition or heritage site during the last twelve months.
Furthermore, according to a study of the INSEE (National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies) in 2009, 61% of senior executives went to the theatre at least once in the year against 20% of workers. 81% of executives read at least one book against 28% of workers, which is 2.9 times less. According to a study of 2012, where heritage attracts a much bigger population, 67% of senior executives, against 20% of workers, visit museums or exhibitions (La visite des musées, des expositions et des monuments, CRÉDOC : Centre de recherche pour l'étude et l'observation des conditions de vie). The study also shows that levels of income determine cultural practices and participation. In January 2016, a report by Fondation Jean-Jaurès also underlines the unequal access to culture according to socio-professional categories (see J.M. Tobelem, La culture pour tous. Des solutions pour la démocratisation ? http://www.option-culture.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/La-culture-pour-tous-JM-TOBELEM-2016.pdf).
These results are often interpreted as a certain failure of the policy of cultural democratisation, which is considered as a mainstream line of action of the Ministry of Culture since its creation (see chapter 2.1 and chapter 6.1). We can also see in these results a certain questioning of the books and reading policies, which need to be revised in the context of digital transition; and a threat to the future of concerts of classical music, which are losing audiences from generation to generation.
However, the retrospective analysis of the five editions of the survey also highlights a global increase in cultural practices and consumption: three French people out of ten have an artistic activity today, against 1.5 in the 1970s. We notice, for example, a massive increase in listening to music and amateur development of the practice (100% for drama, 300% for dance). There has also been an increasing prevalence of screen-based culture and globally an increased attendance at cultural establishments. In the field of heritage we also notice increasing audience participation. This concerns in particular the major Parisian sites, as shown by the 2014 figures: more than 9 million visitors, of which 70% are foreign visitors, to the Louvre (including the Louvre-Lens branch), which consolidates its world first place; 7,7 million entrances at Versailles (80% of foreigners); around 3,5 million to Beaubourg, including about 40% foreign visitors; and 3.5 million visitors to the Musée d'Orsay. However, foreign tourist visits decreased because of the terrorist attacks of November 2015 in Paris and July 2016 in Nice (see chapter 3.1).
A study by DEPS about Online Cultural Practices in France and in Europe in 2014, shows that more than four out of five households have access to internet in France (83%), a bit more than the European average share (81%). France ranks 8th in Europe, after Northern countries (Luxemburg, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, UK, Germany). Online digital cultural usages concern about half of the European users (49%) and France is slightly below the average (47%). The most frequent usages are:
- online press and news reading,
- watching and downloading films, music and video games
- online radio listening.
The storage and sharing of cultural content via cloud systems remains a minority practice, concerning only one third of internet users.
Please find the available information on this subject in 6.2.
Last update: November, 2016
Amateur arts and folk culture
A survey from 1996 (available in Olivier Donnat, Les Pratiques culturelles des Français Enquête 1997, La Documentation française/Ministère de la Culture: http://www.pratiquesculturelles.culture.gouv.fr ) showed that half of the French people aged 15 years and older had exercised an amateur artistic practice in their life, and that half of them (23% of the total) continued to practice. For young people from 15 to 24 years old, these proportions rose respectively to two thirds and to half. Furthermore, the younger the amateurs were, the more they practiced two or more artistic activities.
According to a 2008 survey on cultural practices and participation of French people (Olivier Donnat, Les Pratiques culturelles des Français Enquête 2008, La Documentation française/Ministère de la Culture: http://www.pratiquesculturelles.culture.gouv.fr ), the development of digital technology and the internet profoundly transformed amateur practices, and favoured the emergence of new forms of expression but also new modes of broadcasting auto-produced cultural contents during free time.
With the distribution of digital devices and multimedia mobile phones, the practices of photography and video progressed, weakly in the case of the former, considering the former existence in households of instamatic or polaroid-type devices; however, the number of French people that made a movie or a video in one year doubled in ten years (27% in 2008 against 14% in 1998).
For other activities, the evolution first appears to be less favourable: musical practices have declined, as well as those relative to writing, visual arts and drawing. However, once the creative uses of computing are taken into account, amateur practice seems to be increasing, in the continuation of the trend that was observed in the 1980s and 1990s. Indeed, besides the traditional amateur practices, new forms of content production developed in the field of music, visual or graphic arts and writing.
Analysis also shows that amateur artistic practices became less associated with the young and less elitist, which had been observed at the beginning of 1970s, under the combined effects of certain structural evolutions of society (a rise in the education level, an increase in working people's spare time, a reduction in the retirement age) and an increase in the commercial and public offers (music schools and academies, dance and theatre classes, writing workshops, etc.). This context led to a diversification of the forms of expression and of the modalities of practice.
Besides, several cultural expressions stemming from popular practices were registered on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: Compagnonnage, network for on-the-job transmission of knowledge and identities; Gastronomic meal of the French; le Cantu in paghjella, a secular and liturgical oral tradition of Corsica, Processional giants and dragons in Belgium and France, etc.
Cultural houses and community cultural clubs
Lots of cultural actions come under a domain that is known in France as "popular education" (éducation populaire). This concept is grounded in notions of class, political struggle, and social transformation. It refers to an educational and social movement, introduced from the end of the XIXth century in France, which tries mainly to promote education that aims at improving the social system, and that is conducted out of the traditional structures of education and out of the institutional educational systems. So, popular education aims at the constant transformation of society and at the advent of a fairer and more united society. It can reinforce the contribution of cultural policy to social transformation.
The popular education actions are led in many establishments, mainly at local level: community and socio-cultural centres, youth clubs and associations (maisons des jeunes et de la culture, MJC), rural centres, holiday and leisure centres, etc. Social Security Offices have 2 000 community and social centres. In 2008, during the 60th anniversary of the creation of the MJC, 1460 MJCs had 630 000 members, 150 000 of which are aged between 16 and 25 years old.
At national level, popular education policies largely depend on the Ministry in charge of Youth and Leisure activities, which has a national operator: the National Institute of Youth and Popular Education (Institut national de la jeunesse et de l'éducation populaire, INJEP). The INJEP supervises the Observatory of the youth and youth policies, as well as a resource centre that is intended for professionals and decision-makers in the sector. INJEP is also the French operator of the European programme Youth in Action. Many federations gather the actors and the establishments of popular education, and structure the sector. They are privileged partners of the Ministry of Culture.
The partnership between popular education federations and the Ministry of Culture is relatively recent. It was not until 1999 that a common charter of objectives was signed between the Ministry of Culture and several federations. Currently, eleven federations are partners of this charter: Centres d'entrainement aux méthodes d'éducation active (CEMEA), Collectif inter-associatif pour la réalisation d'activités scientifiques et techniques internationales (CIRASTI), Confédération des maisons des jeunes et de la culture de France (CMJCF), Fédération des centres sociaux et socio-culturels de France (FCSF), Fédération française des maisons des jeunes et de la culture (FFMJC), Confédération nationale des foyers ruraux (CNFR), Fédération nationale des FRANCAS, Fédération Léo Lagrange, La ligue de l'enseignement, Peuple et culture, Union française des centres de vacances et de loisirs (UFCV).
This charter recognises the role of popular education in the field of culture, and creates the National Council "Culture-Éducation populaire". The charter gave rise to multiannual agreements between the Ministry and the federations, accompanied by co-financing. These agreements were evaluated and renewed in 2012 for three years (http://www.culturecommunication.gouv.fr/Politiques-ministerielles/Developpement-culturel/Education-populaire).
In February, 2013 the PACTE-CNRS research centre of Grenoble organised a colloquium in partnership with the Ligue de l'enseignement and The INJEP, on the theme "Popular Education and Globalisation. Civilisational challenges of the creative, participative and intercultural society" (L'Éducation populaire à l'épreuve de la mondialisation. Défis civilisationnels de la société créative, participative et interculturelle, https://www.pacte-grenoble.fr/actualites/l-education-populaire-a-l-epreuve-de-la-mondialisation-defis-civilisationnels-de-la-societe-creative).