The second National Meeting on the Artistic and Cultural Awakening of Young Children, held on November 4 at the Centre Pompidou, focused on the places and spaces of artistic and cultural awakening in everyday life.


The first edition aimed to bring together early childhood initiatives. The second National meeting on the artistic and cultural awakening of young children, which was held on 4 November at the Pompidou Centre in the presence of Rima Abdul Malak, Minister of Culture, intends to explore the gaps - places or spaces - in which artistic and cultural awakening takes place every day.

2019 Report Author «A National Strategy for Cultural Health - promoting and sustaining the cultural and artistic awakening of the child from birth to 3 years in relation to his parent», psychoanalyst Sophie Marinopoulos invites us to think better about places frequented by babies. « Our way of thinking about places for children is not the same today but it is a very big difficulty to want to evolve our institutions and spaces according to needs. We must think big for our little ones and the space that can encourage and authorize can also prohibit or discourage. So we have a responsibility in these developments. »

A wish shared by Sylviane Giampino, childhood psychologist and psychoanalyst, vice-president of the High Family Council of Childhood and Age and president of the Conseil de l'enfance et de l'adolescence, which plans to return next year to spaces other than family and school spaces. « It is the place we want to give children that is at stake in this issue. The environment that we offer them to live in, that is, the way in which the services and institutions that care for them, accompany them, educate them or transport them, are organized and therefore benefit from a child policy as adapted as possible. »

Artistic and cultural awakening in everyday life: initiatives and experiments

In recent years, several local structures have been working on the issue of artistic and cultural awakening on a daily basis. These reflections have led to initiatives and experiments, which were the subject of a presentation on the occasion of the second edition of the National Meeting of the artistic and cultural awakening of young children.

Bridge, in the Grand Est region


Professionals from the world of culture conducted a reflection, with the help of early childhood professionals on a key age: that of three years with the entrance to kindergarten. In the Grand Est region, the Drac has been experimenting with the Passerelle project in educational cities since 2019. This scheme brings artists into the early childhood centres to prepare for entry into kindergarten. “ This year 2019 was the year of the first labels of educational cities and the renewal of the strategy of fight against poverty so we sought to establish links between these different issues », remembers Élise Mérigeau, cultural action and territory advisor at the Drac Grand Est.

A first experiment was conducted in Chaumont with a daycare centre and a nursery school located in the same building near the Sign, the national graphic design centre. Artists and a collective of graphic designers have imagined for several months – before and after the entrance to the school - a project of artistic residency with both structures in collaboration with the National Education, parents and partners of this neighborhood classified Priority Neighborhood of the city. « We made the hypothesis that this artistic proposal can be a moment that accompanies parenting and the child at the time of this sensitive transition », continues Elise Mérigeau.

After this first in Chaumont in 2019, nine projects were launched this year, the objective being to carry out a project in each department next season, all taking into account the specificities of each territory.

Les Petits Art'Penteurs in the Hauts-de-France


A second initiative aims to explore transitions between places of early childhood and culture. In Hauts-de-France, Acepp Hill (Association of Professional Parent Child Groups) and the Water chamber developed the Petits Art'penteurs project, winner of the call for projects 1000 first days reception outside the walls. This time, culture comes to meet children and their families, thanks to artistic and cultural awakening workshops in the Avesnois-Thiérache territory, straddling two departments. « It is a very large and rural area with important social and economic issues, especially in terms of family mobility, explains Noémie Lanoë, in charge of an animation mission at Acepp Hill. The idea is to go to these families that are the furthest from early childhood care. »

Initially, a network of early childhood and cultural professionals was set up to address these issues and propose actions. The first ones began last January, and today there are a dozen in the territory, in places of early childhood and cultural reception. « In addition to sharing time with their young child, families discover new places. For example, some had never entered the media library of their village and were able to apprehend the place and be accompanied by a professional in this meeting Noémie Lanoë continues. This project will also involve linking professionals with training.

After a year of experimentation, a monitoring committee was set up to structure the network of professionals and anchor the approach on the territory and sustain these artistic and cultural awakening actions.

Cinemas 93 in Seine-Saint-Denis

Finally the association Cinemas 93, which brings together 23 public and associative cinemas of Seine-Saint-Denis, leads devices of awakening to the dark room and access to the universe of the image for toddlers. « We have been thinking for twenty years to discover the cinema, stresses Xavier Grizon, responsible for educational actions at the association. We offer sessions that take the time to welcome the children, that explain how to go from outside to the cinema. We all have limited attention in time and for toddlers, the question is how we can handle that attention. We work with professionals, parents, families, the educational community, child care workers and PMI. » Cinemas 93 develops sessions with animations such as cinematographic shows combining dance, concert or narration.

Cultural awakening in care settings: a privileged space to develop an artistic approach

Among the places conducive to artistic and cultural awakening, there is one that is particularly sensitive, the one that comes under the care sector: hospitals, maternity wards or waiting rooms. Throughout France, associations are setting up initiatives in these spaces to take advantage of these moments to introduce toddlers to art.

Book Gateway in the Touraine region


Near Tours, Gateway Book, a popular education association created in 1998 to combat illiteracy, launched Reading to Infants, a double act of reading aloud. The first is conducted at the Parents-Children (HOPE) hospital in Amboise - Château-Renault, with parents suffering from psychic disorders during the perinatal period. Since 2020, every Monday morning, the association has come up with nearly 150 youth albums. « This reading session has become a highlight of the week of hospitalization for both parents and caregivers, explains Catherine Métais, a reading facilitator. Our goal is to read to a toddler under the gaze of his parent and assume that the words of the albums, different from everyday words because more poetic, lend parents the words to address their baby and accompany the construction or restoration of the parent-a child who has been harmed by illness. »

The second takes place in the neonatal department of the CHU Bretonneau de Tours, which welcomes newborns with heavy pathologies or high prematurity. « Attachment is undermined because parents cannot hold their baby and feel helpless ” explains Jeanne Beutter, a reading facilitator. Every week, members of the association read to parents who in turn become readers for their baby. “ The idea is that parents enjoy hearing stories and then sharing them with their baby to become actors in their development Jeanne Beutter continues. Research is being carried out on these two projects, in partnership with the University of Tours. Next year, reading interventions will be filmed and analyzed to measure the effects.

The bag of the first 1000 days in maternity

Also to promote this parent-child relationship, since March, nearly 250 maternity homes located in priority territory (City Priority Neighbourhood and Rural Revitalization Area) offer the bag of the first 1000 days established by the Ministry of Health and Solidarity. In this bag, five key objects for child development, including a youth album to facilitate cultural awakening. “ Four albums were selected for their ease of appropriation, including by allophone parents ” says Solenne Gibon, the project manager for this bag for the first 1000 days.

L.I.R.E, in PMI waiting rooms


This action is complemented by complementary actions within the SMIs. Moreover, it is in the waiting rooms of these places that intervenes Book for Inclusion and Rejection of Exclusion (L.I.R.E), an association that travels to fourteen Parisian centres to read albums to children. « The waiting room is a particular context since it is a consultation time, an in-between. These places are linked to care so how to promote culture there? », questions Frédéric Boyer, coordinator, reader and trainer. For example, reading spaces have been set up in these rooms, on motor mats or counters, within children’s reach to promote chance encounters with families who may not have come to us ” as Frédéric Boyer notes.

Music and Hospital Health

Finally, in the musical register, the association Music and Health works in the hospital environment with concerts. “ The location of the hospital is very specific with its hygienic or acoustic constraints. Must be able to stand at the height of children, in a corridor or between two doctor passages ” notes Philippe Bouteloup, musician and trainer for the association. The association offers a double approach by playing for and with the child. “It puts him back into a revival of hope, he can project himself into tomorrow,” the musician continues.


The first 1000 days, a crucial time for child development

The concept of the first 1,000 days, for the period of life from pregnancy to the child’s two years, is a fundamental period for building the child’s health. In 2021, a report on this period was given to the Secretary of State for Families and Children. This report is accompanied by the deployment of a policy of the first 1,000 days by the Ministry of Solidarity and Health.

In this policy, a call for regional projects has been set up to support innovative initiatives that promote the artistic and cultural awakening of young children. One of the four priorities of this call for projects is dedicated to “the development of places and the offer to promote the cultural and artistic awakening of toddlers, especially the most disadvantaged”.