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Culture and the financial crisis : maintain or weaken the status quo?

election posters in france (c) Joe Shlabotnik Flickr

Within the last few years, national policy has deteriorated due to budget cuts, and the “General Restructuring of Policies and Administration” (RGPP – Révision Générale des Politiques Publiques)which was implemented in 2007 led to a certain reduction regarding the scope of action for the ministry of culture.

The three competence levels (cities, Departements, regions) try to pursue courageous cultural political objectives, although their intense dedication is curbed by a decreasing national commitment. That means financial losses for the municipalities beyond the French « AAA loss » – they will be forced to reduce their cultural investments, being subject to the debt brake – and this has direct consequences for the field of culture.

The crisis has also an impact on the French municipalities, although their situation is hardly comparable to that in Southern European countries, with the example of Barcelona and the independent Spanish regions being the most significant ones. We observe that other European countries with less developed structures regarding politics, administrations, and investments from the private sector, are also in an awkward position due to the decline of these investments – Great Britain and The Netherlands are epitomes of that.

We hope that the cultural sector – be it on a local or national level – will not be the first one to fall victim to the crisis, given the economical and social situation in various European countries. And there is also the question and the fear what will happen with the commission’s suggestions regarding the agenda 2014-2020? Will the programme maintain all its ambitious objectives without suffering any losses by budget cuts which are arranged jointly by the European council and the parliament?

The election campaign 2012: a promise without a future?

It is justified to ask the question which role the topic of culture will play during the election campaign given the ever-present economical issues – you will find out that culture does not play a too important role on the list of electoral issues. The first electoral statements were made in Avignon on July 16, 2011 in the forum of the daily newspaper « Libération » where several representatives of various parties could have their say. Now, the public election campaign has started, and the speeches delivered by Nicolas Sarkozy on January 26 in Marseille and by François Hollande on January 19 at the BIS-culture exhibition in Nantes revealed first perspectives on the culture programme of the future and possible candidates.

But now, the actual election campaign has to begin in order to obtain more precise propositions. You can observe a great discrepancy regarding the copy rights in e-business and regarding the fate of the Hadopi law [illegal downloads lead to copy right infringements and are therefore prosecuted]. These issues which are red-hot again, especially after the shutdown of the MEGAUPLOAD website, could keep the politicians busy until the election. According the socialist candidate, there is a tendency towards a new legal basis without making any budget increases (orientation law regarding the performing arts, a possible return to 5,5% VAT for cultural goods…) in order to « seal the second act of France’s exceptional cultural position. »

In general, you can observe a lot of weak points in the political speeches when it comes to the position and role of the internet with regards to future cultural political measures, as well in terms of the development of new paradigms as in terms of new economical models. The future culture budget still belongs to the big secrets of the election campaign, in spite of the mutual affirmations which promise a certain inviolability of this budget.

It is obvious that the economical and financial crisis has an impact on the extent of political measures and on the determination of the politicians. Because the municipalities and especially the regions are affected by these limitations there is  less and less hope for a possible social and economical contribution they could produce.

Finally, the absence of any considerations, ideas, or suggestions concerning Europe also has to be mentioned here. No studies regarding the programme 2014-2020 have been developed, nor any perspective for the 2020 strategy. This year, the election campaign is all about French topics – although in the meantime, there are many challenges to be faced on a European level.

ROGER TROPEANO is Chairman of Les Rencontres

Source : 2010LAB.TV

Filed under: Analyses, Gouvernances, Politiques culturelles, , , , , ,

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