Dear Abdou DIOUF,Ladies and Gentlemen MinistersCher Louis SCHWEITZER,Dear Nicolas SEYDOUX,Dear friends,First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Abdou DIOUF for his speech and the emotion he has instilled and instilled in us today as always, as well as for the remarkable work he does at the head of the International Organization of the Francophonie, which, as you know, is much more than a club of French speakers, a humanist network between continents and between histories, a space of identity – that of a shared language – at the same time as a place of diversity, a point of encounter of differences. The Francophonie draws one of those international and mobile cultural landscapes that enter into composition in today’s world and that the Indian sociologist of the University of New York Arjun APPADURAI speaks about.

The emotion aroused by your words, dear Abdou DIOUF, is also a bit like the call of air that culture causes. It is no longer a «soul supplement», this simple ornament of the time of the monarchies that TOCQUEVILLE spoke of, it seems to me rather to meet the beautiful definition of beauty by STENDHAL: a «promise of happiness». For it is she who gives form and colour to each of our ways of living together. It is she who, in the globalized world that we know, sleeps or, on the contrary, stimulates our desire for movement.
Today, as such, culture has become a determining factor in the attractiveness of a territory, that is to say a key argument for bringing men and women to themselves and to their homes, each in their own way, on the spot already or back home, invest in the places they learn to love, and thus engage the virtuous circle of double enrichment, both economic and cultural.
Digital technology, in that sense too, is, as I said at the beginning of these exciting days, a “pharmakon”, an ambivalent instrument, a high-dose poison that, if administered “homeopathically” and with a measure, becomes a remedy. For on the one hand, it may seem to distance us from each other and accustom us to living alone by watching the world pass behind our screens, by watching «passing the trains» in a way; but on the other, it is a formidable showcase, an invitation to discovery and travel. For he also discreetly distills the lack, the desire for presence, and, in this sense, dear M. PALEOLOGU, he is very contemporary with a mobile way of life, with the development of diasporas that he allows and provokes at the same time. This is another reason why I believe in the digitization of heritage – and I thank you, dear Christian DE BOISSIEU, for having defended this priority with the Grand Emprunt Commission. Because I am convinced that the attractiveness of territories will now depend on digital visibility. I bet that a virtual tour of this sublime Palace of the Popes, where we had the chance to gather to debate, or the consultation of the collections of our museums, is likely to sharpen the curiosity of Internet users and their desire to know this city and this country and to invent roots, loyalty…

In this new world which is constantly in a dynamic oscillation between the screen and the plane, between the representation and the presence, between the fascination for the image and the desire for the real, between the old and new roots, the consented exiles and theroots, it is clear that our new ways of being are inseparably culture, communication and, of course, economy.
This, for its second edition, confirms the relevance of these meetings of the Forum d'Avignon, in these places exemplary of the cultural attractiveness of the territories. A unique architecture, the assets of a landscape heritage that is also the product of the hand of man, its festivals alive and in dialogue, the «in» and the «off», this place of creativity that has never had to suffer from the «infernal machines» of John Philip SOUSA, brilliantly directed by Lawrence LESSIG… This is all that attracts us to this city, and I add another cultural element that runs through our subconscious, at least to us French and French, an ancestral song “on the bridge of Avignon”, stronger than the ruins… I assure you, I will not take this opportunity to sing it to you…
We can see that the crisis has in fact made us more obvious – and thankfully more so than reason. It reminds us that the attractiveness and wealth of a territory is made, to a large extent, of the happiness it promises, and, moreover, of the happiness it gives, that is to say that it is built from beginning to end, from century to century, because of the value of culture.
Of course, the equations and dynamics involved are complex and the INEUM study showed very well that, like any element of a whole, the influence of culture on the economy obviously cannot be linear and automatic, but that it obeys subtle models and mechanisms, which investors, as everywhere else, try to seize to trigger them at best.
To stimulate the economy of culture, to realize these deep and lasting goods that sometimes structure us for centuries, like this magnificent architectural ensemble, it is necessary not only to cross investment thresholds – such as the one I asked the Grand Emprunt for digitalisation – but also to unblock obstacles to the development of creativity and its dissemination.
I learned from the excellent study by Ernst and Young that more than 300 tax incentives, in various forms, have been put in place around the world for cultural activities, and that they have demonstrated their full effectiveness and gained legitimacy that can no longer be seriously challenged. Although France has shown a particular creativity in this area, other major cultural nations, including China, have adopted such mechanisms. However, we still have to invent a digital tax system in order to avoid introducing devices designed in the analog world that may be deprived of some of their effectiveness.
Alain SUSSFELD rightly pointed out that these tax incentives can not only stimulate creative activity in general, but also aim more particularly at the quality or development of young talent. That is why the government, on my proposal, has just asked the European Commission to renew for four years the “Disc Tax Credit”, specifically intended to support the production of new artists. This is the very type of measure that is very inexpensive for the taxpayer (a few million euros), and whose effects on the renewal of creation are exponential.
I have also noted that, among the avenues for reform suggested by Ernst and Young on the basis of this global tax overview, I am working closely with my colleague Christine LAGARDE: the extension of the tax payment mechanism to income tax.
That is why I would also like to see reduced VAT applied to online cultural services—Antoine GALLIMARD has demonstrated the need for this—and more generally to cultural goods, such as records or DVDs. A reduced VAT, by improving the purchasing power of music, film and now literature lovers, would be the best lever for the development of legal offers online, and consequently, an effective decrease in piracy.
Cost is reduced and not necessarily free, which, as you know, is also ambivalent. It is often a decoy, because the cost is hidden, borne elsewhere, by others: by the taxpayer for example. It also leads, sometimes, to a reflex of bulimia and storage, contradictory with the quality of approach and personal sedimentation that engage cultural property. That is why free access can be used as a lever, for example for young people, as we did recently to attract young people to museums, or to help them find their way back to reading the press by offering them a subscription to a daily newspaper. but it must not become the rule. For it too is a “pharmakon”, poison and remedy, a “pharmacy” which must not become a panacea.
More than gratuitousness, the attractiveness of a culture rests, I am convinced, on its ability to make live diversity, which is sometimes, moreover, an element of a diaspora that is transformed in contact with the habits and customs of a territory and thus creates new bridges with the world. For this reason, at the opening of this Forum, I welcomed the historic milestone represented by the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and I was pleased to note that your debates have brought to light the importance of the dual value of cultural goods, which are at the same time, solidarily and inseparably, riches and symbols.
The 3rd Round Table of the Innovation Session provided a perfect illustration. Going “beyond GNP” in the definition of wealth is a new step necessary to think about the world of tomorrow, and in a sense, a “strategy”, that of consenting to an apparent detour by what is not quantifiable, to build a sustainable economy, a term which, I am convinced, must be extended to the culture which is for me the ecology par excellence. The STIGLITZ report, published last September, should inspire us. It opens with the observation of the failure of current indicators, unable to avoid the crisis for having focused too exclusively on economic wealth, stock market values that generate financial bubbles. Integrating into the indicators the measurement of well-being, the role of health, education, access to housing, allows us to rely on data that are actually much more tangible. Culture has a place in it: in well-being and within the many fundamental criteria mentioned in this important report: Education, to which it provides an essential foundation for openness of mind and ability to play with symbols. Recreation. The social bond of memory that forms the basis of a democratic community.
This political and social value of culture is clearly expressed in economic value: cultural activities account for 2.6% of the European Union’s GDP, or a turnover of more than 650 billion euros. No less than 5 million people work in the cultural sector in Europe, which represents 2.4% of total employment. And the trend is obviously upward.
The study on innovation presented by BAIN at the beginning of the Forum shows us that the emergence of the Internet has simply shifted the value of culture, without, of course, in any way undermining it. The Internet now accounts for the fifth-largest share of the global profitability of cultural industries, its profits have increased from 4% to 22% of media profits between 2000 and 2009, and it is poised to become the leading vector for the dissemination of culture.
The Internet is indeed the new instrument of the cultural attractiveness of territories. Well mastered, well placed as an instrument, and well regulated, it is an incentive to meet us. Indeed, if he accompanies us everywhere, if each of us perhaps has, discreetly, under a folder or his towel, «googled» his neighbor, the Internet does not exempt us, however, and that is happy, from the real presence and the direct encounter of works, On the contrary, it arouses and exacerbates the desire for it. Your presence in these prestigious places, your exchanges throughout these days, give a striking proof of this, I am pleased and I wanted to thank you all warmly.