On the occasion of the International Exhibition of Cultural Heritage, the Ministry of Culture organized a meeting on a particularly attractive ecosystem: that of crafts and crafts of heritage. Debrief.


Crafts and heritage crafts are on the rise. It is only to see the public rushing to meet their professionals in the aisles of the International Exhibition of Cultural Heritage, which took place from October 27 to 30 at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, to convince oneself of this. The 281 crafts listed – this is a order of 24 December 2015 who set the official number – amaze fans as much as they engage professionals with the excellence of their know-how and the diversity of their records.

However, if theattractiveness » the sector, which has weathered the health crisis and is now facing the difficulties of an inflationary economy, is particularly strong among young people, must redefine its stakes and redraw the contours of its future, especially in economic terms. The future of crafts and heritage crafts was precisely the theme of the meeting organized on October 29 during the Cultural Heritage Fair by the Ministry of Culture: “crafts, heritage crafts: what challenges for tomorrow?”

A flagship ecosystem of French excellence


For many years, the State – Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Economy and Finance – has been providing sustainable support to the crafts and heritage professions, which contribute to the spread of French excellence. Support in terms of employment (the Ministry of Culture, which can rely on the ' rich professional fabric of the ecosystem, is ' the first public employer of crafts » with the Manufacture de Sèvres, the Mobilier National, or the chateaux-museums, says Florent Kieffer, head of the creative industries bureau at the Artistic Creation Directorate of the Ministry of Culture). Support also in terms of funding and training (' the Ministry of Culture subsidizes sites of production, contributes to the financing of the National Institute of the crafts and educates the label Enterprise of the living heritage, of which 1300 companies benefit today ", he continues).

Despite this support from the State, the ecosystem remains fragile, and the professionals evoke their fight not to disappear This is the case of Serge Pascal, Maître d'Art «Releveur-Repousseur» (a profession that consists in « ornament a work of locksmithing on gates of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries »), which stresses that the 140 Masters of Art are « representatives of outstanding professions at risk of extinction ». This is also the case of Richard Boyer, General Manager at SOCRA, a member of the Groupement des entreprises de restauration des monuments historiques, which 210 companies, 10,000 employees, 1000 apprentices The vocation of its Group? Promoting know-how to prevent trades from disappearing ». Finally, this is the case of Clémentine Bollard, president of the French Federation of Conservation and Restoration Professionals, which includes 1,700 graduates, 1,300 of whom are active professionals. « 76% are self-employed and 83% are women ” she said, stressing that the federation supports them in their daily activities ».

A network of specialised companies


Among the vulnerabilities of the ecosystem, there is a strong dependence on the economic context. At a time when inflation is on the rise again, Isabelle Chave, Deputy Director of Historic Monuments and Heritage Sites at the Directorate-General for Heritage and Architecture of the Ministry of Culture, said: supply difficulties ” that block the normal conduct of a heritage site. “ Our businesses are subject to 80% public tenders, says Richard Boyer. We hold ourselves to a price set one year before the work is carried out; but, if there are many upgrade systems, these are not sufficient He is particularly concerned about deferred contracts for small operations in municipalities.

Some prefer to insist on the support provided by the state to remedy these situations. This is the case of Clémentine Bollard, who recognizes a limited impact » the inflationary context on the activity of professionals in the field of conservation and restoration. « There has been a great deal of aid and we are working in groups which are formed in such a way as to ad hoc,” she said. Moreover, if during the health crisis, some professionals are “ out of the aid field ” – a study showed that the conservation-restoration sector was broken down into 34 different activity codes – “ a category «crafts» supported by the Ministry of Culture exists today in the INSEE nomenclature This should allow for a better consideration of the situations of each company.

Transmission, training, exploitation


One of the specificities of the ecosystem is its profoundly original relationship to formation and transmission, which passes through a very particular relation to time. « These trades often take a lifetime to train ", says Isabelle Chave.

The title of Art master, awarded for life by the Ministry of Culture to professionals who possess a rare know-how and wish to transmit their knowledge to student, is proof of this. « The Masters of Art, this French specificity, usually have several decades of practice, what separates them is their ability to transmit Florent Kieffer, who is pleased that gender parity is now perfect among Masters of Art. “ Know-how is part of the heritage, says Serge Pascal. The aim is to preserve the work so that it can persist over time, the training is long term, not for casual construction sites, the apprentice must become a complete craftsman ».   

The training component is of course crucial in the acquisition of know-how specific to crafts and heritage trades. There are more than 1000 training places dedicated to crafts in France. Richard Boyer insists on these new campuses. Their proposal? « Group training centres to offer young people training in heritage professions Another element is the validation of prior learning (VAE). All the diplomas offered in initial training can benefit from it: the awardees then follow a few additional modules, both theoretical and practical, to finalize their VAE », explains Clémentine Bollard.

Last point: the ' valorization » arts and heritage professions. If they already exist (whether we are thinking of the “Discovery of Crafts” operation at the college or the “One School, One Yard, One Trade” scheme open to schools to discover historical monuments), these initiatives must be strengthened significantly, pleads Florent Kieffer, who calls for the multiplication of awareness campaigns ". " We need to increase skills and support adapted to young people ", he concludes.

Arts and Crafts: towards an interdepartmental plan to structure the ecosystem

On all these issues, a broad work will be launched under the aegis of the Ministries of Culture, Economy and Finance and National Education, which should lead to: in the near future on a grand plan on crafts ” said Florent Kieffer, Head of the Creative Industries Bureau at the Creative Arts Branch of the Ministry of Culture.