Despite the arrival of the Omicron variant at the end of the year, 2021 will have been marked by renewal, the reopening of cultural sites and the return of the public.

« The culture continues ”, assured the Minister of Culture on December 29, 2021, as France faced a resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic after several months of calm. « We are in a process of anticipation to ensure that the Omicron variant does not overwhelm us and thus protect the world of culture ", she went on to relaunch support plans for the world of culture, including those for sectors particularly affected, such as cinema and live entertainment.

Yet 2021 had been a year of renewal for the cultural sector: resumption of cultural activities, return of major events dear to the French, such as festivals, exhibitions, cinemas, and – this is perhaps the most precious to everyone – revitalizing the connection with the public. Retrospective.

Cultural life takes on new colors

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Since May 19, a new wind blows on the world culture. With the reopening of the museums and monuments, of the theatres and cinemas, of the festivals and of libraries and media libraries, the French can find the unparalleled offer offered by these cultural placesAnd they do it, with visits to monuments and exhibitions, cinemas and concerts.

The major national events, organized by the Ministry of Culture, are also making their return, starting with the most emblematic of them, the Music festival, which celebrates reunion between artists and their audienceEuropean Heritage Days. This is also the case for the Cultural Summer, the first edition of which, launched during the health crisis, attracted a lot of support. In 2021, the event, which positioned itself more strongly towards social bond and solidarity, met with a deserved success.

The world of culture is reinventing itself

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This revival of a rich and varied cultural life owes first of all to the inventiveness and creativity of artists and structures, but also to the massive support provided by the State: sectoral aid and stimulus package, which is deployed by supporting, throughout the territory, innovative cultural initiatives and projects, including those of the Maison de la Culture de Bourges, of a bookstore in Laval, of a cinema-concert in La Roche-sur-Yon or of the cathedral of Troyes.    

Particularly affected by the health situation, some sectors – festivals, photography – have chosen to bring together all professionals around a single goal: to reinvent themselves. This was the case for the Estates General of festivals, which ended on 1 December, culminating in the establishment of lasting support and two key charters on eco-responsibility and State commitments. This was also the case for Parliament of photography, which looked at the deep ' mutations » from the world of photography.

Play the cards again

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Starting afresh is one of the major challenges facing the world of culture today. To do that, we have to change the cards. That is the ambition of the “creation” component of the recovery plan. It is called “ New worlds », this program, which is challenging genres and borders, focuses on 264 new artistic projects that have received as their sole roadmap this slogan: re-enchant the world. A very promising initiative.

Rebasing the cards also means mobilizing to reach new audiences: the young people with the generalization of the Culture pass, the school with arts and cultural education and the digital offer of the History of the Arts portal, the inhabitants wishing to access cultural riches with Micro-Funds or persons with disabilities. Mobilization also through the various resources of the research and of theinnovationSometimes disruptive, always surprising solutions.  

New solidarity between territories

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Rebasing the maps means finally reinventing the relationships – and solidarity – between the territories. Emblematic example of this solidarity, the exceptional loan of the tapestry cycle of the Lady with the Unicorn, iconic masterpiece of medieval art, by the National Museum of the Middle Ages, in Paris, at the Abattoirs, in Toulouse. Interest in the cultures of the Overseas Territories has also been a strong focus of cultural policy, as highlighted in a series of studies documenting local cultural behaviour. It is found in the organization of General Statements of Multilingualism, held in La Réunion, and in support of the ultramarine creation.

The designation of Villeurbanne as the first «French capital of culture», which was launched on January 7, 2022, will give a new cultural impetus to this territory. Restoring the attractiveness of the centres of medium-sized cities is also one of the challenges of the programme Action coeur de ville », which has been deployed since 2018.

Focus on books and reading

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The bookstore – but also everything in the world of books and reading – libraries, publishing, mediation and, of course, authors – were at the centre of attention in 2021, when we celebrated the 40th anniversary of a landmark law in the country’s cultural life: the single price of the book. This system, which has been taken up by a large number of countries around the world, is experiencing a great vitality, as evidenced by the recent adoption of two bills.

Great national cause until June 2022, the reading is highlighted in particular through the exploration of new territories: prevented public, rural areas, persons with disabilities, illiteracy, early childhood.... Special mention for young readers, including Jean-Claude Mourlevat, who was awarded the 2021 Astrid Lindgren Prize – the Nobel Prize for Youth Literature – analyses their relationship to reading with relevance. Cleaner!

The Francophone space, which holds important development opportunities for the book economy, is also a real gem in terms of vitality – and diversity – lexical and human. This wealth, a unique initiative of its kind, has revealed it in the open: the French Dictionary. To open oneself to the language of the other is also the meaning of an exciting initiative of the Ministry of Culture at the Collège de France where the great essayist Alberto Manguel takes us on the paths of the invention of Europe.

The place of women in the world of culture

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It is impossible to end this retrospective without evoking a strong symbol that will have permanently marked 2021: the entrance to the Pantheon of Josephine Baker. Through the solar personality of the artist, the Nation highlights the brilliant dancer of the magazine that made the Paris of the Roaring Twenties, but also the woman committed to the service of free France who fought all her life against racism and all forms of discrimination. One model the young generations of artists, who have not finished delighting us.

Like Josephine Baker, the place of women in the world of culture is changing. The flowering of awards in the film festivals (Palme d'or in Cannes for Julie Ducournau and Lion d'or in Venice for Audrey Diwan) and in the major literary awards (Fémina to Clara Dupont-Monod, Médicis to Christine Angot and Renaudot to Amélie Nothomb. Special mention for architect Anne Lacaton, winner with her counterpart Jean-Philippe Vassal, of the 2021 edition of the prestigious Pritzker Prizethe Nobel equivalent of architecture. This is also demonstrated by an ambitious plan to combat sexual and gender-based violence and harassment, the live performance component of which was presented by the Minister of Culture.

2021 was also the year of the Radio festival, of the return of WEFRAC, the open days of these original places that are the Fonds régionaux d'art contemporain, the Venice Biennial of Architecture with Christophe Hutin who makes the voice of an alternative architecture the closing of the year of the comic, an exciting initiative that has generated multiple interests...

 

3 highlights of 2022

> French Presidency of the Council of the European Union
> France-Portugal cross year
> 400th anniversary of Molière’s birth and 100th anniversary of Proust’s death