August 1, 2021

“I am here to defend culture and win arbitrations”

Criticized for failing to prevent the closure of cultural venues during the health crisis, the Minister of Culture defends the choices of the executive and shows her confidence in the return to normal activity. But she says she is ready to fight with Bercy if new aid is necessary for the sector.

What first assessment do you draw from the reopening of cultural venues on May 19?

This reopening is the result of hard work at the Ministry of Culture. We took action by increasing the number of meetings with actors in the performing arts, cinema, museums, art galleries… We made sure that this reopening went as smoothly as possible, despite a fluctuating situation.

In December 2020, we were in a situation whose outlines we could see. Then the variants arrived and, each time, we had to readjust, rethink the consultations, with various actors, who did not always agree with each other. It was necessary to assess the situation on a technical level but also psychological, to determine what is acceptable and what is not. It has been a lot of work.

Couldn’t we reopen earlier?

It was not possible to do otherwise. The pandemic has evolved erratically. In Florence, the museums reopened, the cameras rushed in, we implied that the French were zero but, ten days later, the Italians closed! The situation was extremely volatile. This has not always been understood.

Are the French rushing to cultural places?

The reopening was a magical, moving moment. The first week, 2.3 million spectators went to the cinema, which represents 80% of the admissions of 2019, but, with a gauge of 35% in the theaters! The second week there were 1.3 million spectators.

Cinema professionals are confident because the offer will remain attractive all summer and there is no traffic jam for the moment. Two hundred films are scheduled between now and August, compared to the usual 170. It is a question of absorbing two more per week, which is not unthinkable.

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For live shows, visual arts, museums… structures that have reopened have reached maximum capacity everywhere.

Will all cultural structures have reopened on June 9, when the gauges drop to 65% in theaters?

Not necessarily. Some structures continue to be occupied, not so much,
intermittently or not exclusively; I am thinking of La Criée, in Marseille, for example.

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