Culture is future »

11.14.2011

Always Further - Growth through culture and creation

Never have the fear of losing influence, of the recessionary period, of outsourcing, of declining, be as strong as it now is. 

Never have our inability to find in ourselves the key to bounce back and the new dependency toward developing countries – who became the masters of the world - be felt with as much apprehension.  

The different steps of the financial crisis, marked by the necessity of an audacious and responsible political regulation, are a call to redefine our real assets and potential strengths. 

We should not forget that responsibilities are not to be found in the failures of the banking and financial systems, but in the short-sightedness of people postponing strategic choices, because intrinsically painful or simply too innovating. 

Tomorrow always feels more pleasant than today, as soon as it is possible to defer the moment of truth…

Beyond the necessary discipline needed to set in motion a virtuous dynamic of trust and growth, we must find out our strategic priorities and the solid pressure points on which we should base a sustainable revival of our economy. By opening our eyes on our real chances that we sometimes underestimate by lack of lucidity, or because of a wrong or outdated conception of our own abilities. 

When talking about research, we consider it as an investment – when talking about culture, it is immediately to evoke an expense. 

Everything is stigmatized: the important is pointed out, the cultural being labeled as secondary, nice to have but finally marginal. Almost judged without appeal. 

Building on the future and intelligence our revival is clearly strategic and vital. But without waiting, let’s seize the range of our assets and above all be committed to promote them with audacity. Without putting aside any of them. 

France is proud of its exceptional cultural heritage, its emblematic prestigious roots, its magical places often abandoned or barely restored and promoted.

So let’s make of each historic space a chance, a project, a welcome. An effervescence. An incubator for creators. A real laboratory for research and innovation. 

Let’s open our castles and our museums, our palaces and universities, our ancient sites and renovated districts to our talents and all those who came from continents, still fascinated by our “old country” and the European civilization. 

Let’s be the meeting point of creation, imagination, fervor and future. This will launch an invigorating dynamic and attractivity. This will create a market, chances, jobs… 

Let’s draw forth projects, meetings places for patrons and artists, for collectors and artisans. Between producers and editors. Between « wise old men » and new talents. 

Let’s create lively market place, open to art, design, digital technologies, art professions, cinema, music, video games. All cultural industries are full of promising opportunities. Universes of images, of sounds, of writings, of virtual reality are very powerful sources of activity, with a durably exponential growth. 

Let’s allocate the numerous disused aisles of our monuments to the most efficient start-ups so that France becomes the land of welcome of the cutting edge of digital intelligence; a lively bridge between history and future, with the demand of a dynamic reconciliation rather than the posture of the fruitless antagonism. 

What a fantastic message offered to the whole world: a country with deep and prestigious traditions, open to the world’s youth, to the most promising and fruitful brains. 

They would durably be our ambassadors, and even maybe the ones who would later choose to invest in our country. 

Berlin, Shanghai, Sydney, Los Angeles, London, New York or Bombay would progressively become aware and perhaps envy this new French model in which culture and technology are the true promise for tomorrow’s employment. 

Let’s relocate in France what should never have been outsourced abroad.  

The international investors, fond of the what is beautiful, unique, rare, exceptional, should not be dissuaded from investing in France, because we are afraid of our own shadow; because we hide ourselves behind a cozy but suicidal conservatism

Let’s retrieve our status of “reference country”, where the spirit of creation, the taste to undertake and make things happen are our mottos and arms.  

This opening to the other, the new, the different cannot be sacrilegious. It is not a denial of respect toward History. It is the opposite. It is a way of reaffirming our willingness to channel energy, to be enlighteners, thinkers – in love with excellence and demanding the highest standards. 

The alliance of imagination and know-how is a far more powerful horizon than it seems to be. The luxury industry is not mistaken when it highlights the exceptional qualities of art artisans, who are an honor and a source of wealth.  

Our country should not be exclusively perceived as the one of the museums, even if they are as prestigious as it can be, but as the living and electric melting pot of all creations. 

The steady obstruction of the doors of the Grand Palais in Paris concretely reflects this fecund vision. 

Why not making of this effervescence the rule rather than the exception? 

Let’s become the country of the « yes, of course » when answering to every talented project leader, instead of being the one of the “leave me alone”, of the overcautious no, of the impossible established as a sterile precaution.  

Why not assuming to be the encounter of creation, knowing how to welcome all foreign young students, researchers and artists who will not remain eternally fascinated by our country if they are constantly confronted with a wrong analysis of our interests.

Let’s imagine a national plan of promotion of our heritage beyond what is currently planned, allowing fruitful partnerships between public and private sectors, without even talking about selling out our treasures, in order to play on their attractiveness and their maximal renown. 

Let’s open more our main cultural sites, the huge as well as the tiny ones, thinking about concrete solutions for their staffs, so that they can welcome numerous new initiatives, able to create value and meaning. Even at night! Even all year long! 

Let’s be the world’s emblematic meeting place of artists, creative people, artisans, researchers, young businessman. We would then be the destination which cannot be ignored by the ones refusing the excess of standardization, the leveling, the trivialization resulting from globalization.  

The culture, the art, the exceptional, the beautiful, the living, the electric, the passionate, the demanding, the inventing, the rare are our levers for growth. More perennial and powerful than some of our emblematic economic firms tending to lose competitiveness. 

The cultural 1%* is not the percentage of the State budget to be reached or exceeded, it is the extra-growth to be awaited from such a strategy.  

So let’s dare considering culture as a way of overcoming the crisis rather than a “nostalgia”.  

 

Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, former Minister of Culture and Communication

 

* The cultural 1% refers to a French political measure aiming at supporting the realization of contemporary artworks, to be integrated to public architectural projects and representing 1% of the budget allocated by the State.