On 5 May, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, presented various avenues designed to help French cultural actors during this unprecedented health crisis.
In an op-ed published in the Paris daily Le Monde on April 30, renowned French artists had expressed their concerns to the State about their future following lockdown decided in the context of the Covid-19 epidemic. In a tweet sent on 2 May, Emmanuel Macron replied to them: “To the artists who have spoken out, I want to say that I hear them. The State will continue to accompany them, protect the most fragile, support creation. The future cannot be invented without your power of imagination. On Wednesday, I will announce the first decisions in this regard”.
On May 5, the President of the Republic first exchanged views with a dozen artists from several disciplines and then, in the presence of Franck Riester (Minister of Culture), he addressed the cultural world for half an hour to present several support measures.
The Head of State began his speech by underlining the importance of culture for the French nation. “The need for culture is all the stronger because we are indeed in France, and many of you have noted this, in a country that has built its deep identity on this ability to think about culture, the place of its artists and the role that culture has in the construction of universalism and also the French project (…),” he said.
But uncertainty surrounds this artistic world so, from now on, we will have to learn to live with this virus. “We must somehow “climb the tiger” and therefore domesticate it (…) It will not disappear the tiger, it will be there and fear will be there in society (…) the only way it will not devour us is to climb it”, he declared. This means new adaptations and the State will accompany the cultural actors. “French genius is common sense and creativity”, he repeated.
Strengthening arts and cultural education in schools
Emmanuel Macron mentioned two steps in the “recovery” of culture after lockdown due to the health crisis: resistance-resilience and refoundation.
Thus, during the first step, a “blank” year with in particular the maintenance of unemployment benefits will be granted to temporary workers in the entertainment industry until August 2021. This was one of the main demands of the artists. However, the President of the Republic said he “expects a lot from the cultural world”, first for the establishment of an “artistic and cultural education” in schools. “I trust all the entertainment workers. The fact is I need people who know how to do things, to invent for our young people. We have schools that we will gradually reopen and we will organize school time completely differently in the coming weeks, it’s now, and we will have to put sport and culture in school. We will need intermittent workers, creators, artists, very great artists who are not intermittent workers and everywhere in France, and it’s now”, he said.
He added that it will be a reinforcement of what had already started in schools: “Let’s use this period when school doesn’t reopen in the same way to make a revolution in access to culture and art (…) We need you at school, it will be small groups of 10 children, but if you are ready to give one or two afternoons a week, we’ll structure it and find the right administrative ways (…) We need this breath and to help our children and at the same time to restore a reason for living to a lot of women and men in our country who support culture, who believe in it and who need it whether they are artists, technicians or others”.
This artistic and cultural teaching will not be free, it will be paid by the State to the artists.
Reinventing the ability to bring culture to life
Secondly, the Head of State proposed to artists, whether they are famous or not, to offer “a learning summer” to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Since there is no summer in the Caribbean, we could say “a learning long school holidays in July and August”. Here too, it will be necessary to invent opportunities and activities where artists will give a little piece of their time and knowledge to young people, especially those of modest means, who will not go on holiday…
Emmanuel Macron’s third strong proposal to help the cultural world was the launch of a “major programme of public commissions” for all artistic disciplines. Particular attention will be paid to young creators under the age of 30 coming out of art schools, conservatories, etc…
After the “resistance-resilience”, there will be the “refoundation” of the French cultural model, which must now coexist with this coronavirus. Everyone’s ideas will be necessary and useful to build this new cultural season on all French territories. “We must invent an extraordinary season, we must collectively invent it, think about it, by renewing the audience (…) We must use the fact of being an artist in France to invent and further improve this ability to think and bring culture to life in our nation. This is our challenge and we accept it (…)”, said the President of the Republic.
Measures in favour of culture
Following the speech by the President of the Republic, Franck Riester, Minister of Culture, gave details of these measures in favour of cultural players to the media, stressing that there are “emergency measures that have been taken from the beginning, measures aimed at protecting this ecosystem from the crisis, measures that were planned for the whole of our society (…) For decades we have succeeded in building in France a unique system made up of human wealth and unique structures of public services for culture, entrepreneurship that the whole world envies us. We must reaffirm it and at the same time reinvent it”.
Until end of August 2021
“Blank” year (maintenance of rights) for freelance artists
May 7, 2020
Co-presidency of Franck Riester (Minister of Culture) and Jean-Michel Blanquer (Minister of National Education) of the Haut Conseil à l’Éducation Artistique et Culturelle (High council for arts and cultural education) to build a platform for contacting artists and National Education for artistic events in schools from the end of May 2020.
May 11, 2020
Reopening with public of bookshops, libraries, media libraries, record shops, art galleries, some museums and historical monuments
Reopening without public of performing art venues, theatres, companies for administrative functions, rehearsals, discussions
Provision of a solidarity fund (80 million euros, end of April 2020) for artist-authors (reimbursement of workshop and studio rentals, etc.), they complete their file on a website. Exemption from social charges for 4 months
During May 2020
Creation of a public compensation fund with the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image animée (CNC), financed by the Regional Councils, co-financed by insurers, perhaps banks to restart and guarantee audiovisual and cinematographic shootings.
End of May 2020
Discussion between mayors and prefects on a greater deconfinement of cultural activities and places, increase of the number of 10 people (standard from May 11), reopening of cinemas etc.
Development of health safety standards in all artistic disciplines allowing the Ministry of Labour, trade unions and professional organisations to resume cultural activities
June & July
Implementation of the summer learning (a programme to develop young people’s artistic knowledge alongside volunteer artists)
End of August 2020
Authorization of shows with more than 5 000 people (festivals, big concerts etc.) according to the evolution of the Covid-19 epidemic
End of August 2020
Meeting government and artists to take stock of measures
January 1, 2021
Entry into force of the Audiovisual media services Directive (AVMS) & Copyright Directive to ensure that the major digital platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Netflix…) invest in French audiovisual and film production
Measures with no deadline
Protection of French film, series catalogs and French diversity companies / Discussion between Franck Riester (Minister of Culture) and Bruno Le Maire (Minister of Economy and Finance)
Creation of a €50 million fund at the Centre National de la Musique (CNM), created on January 1, 2020 to support music actors (authors, composers, performers, etc.)
Creation of a “festival fund” to support festivals in connection with local authorities, in particular the Regional Councils
Launch of a public commission plan for artist-authors in all artistic disciplines