Dear Michel Vauzelle, President of the Regional Council

Dear Hervé Schiavetti, Mayor

Mr. Speaker, dear Jean-Noël Jeanneney

Dear François Hébel, Director

Dear friends,


I am delighted to welcome you here to the Ministry of Culture and Communication for this press conference of the 44
edition of the Rencontres d'Arles.


The Rencontres is one of our major international festivals. One of the few dedicated exclusively to photography. Created in 1970, it is renewed every year by deploying its rich programming throughout the city of Arles.


At the heart of contemporary creation and heritage, the Encounters have always been able to conduct a fruitful dialogue between the works of our collective memory and the most recent, often unpublished creations. This year, with the theme you have chosen, Black and White, you reserve us, dear François Hébel, some very nice discoveries around what many of us thought had gone with the rise of color and digital. You will reveal the main pearls later.


Beyond the formidable success of the festival with a large audience of amateurs and professionals, the Rencontres d'Arles are developing a real know-howdo in education to the image and welcome many students especially during the Back in Images. With the release of the game «Pause-Photo-Prose», which allows to introduce in a playful way young people to the reading of photographs, no doubt that you will be able to convince many teachers and parents of the need to develop these approaches. You know how attached I am.


I especially want to salute the Rencontres d'Arles team. Every year, you show an incredible energy to succeed in the implementation of the festival.


I would like to dwell for a moment on the relationship that the festival has with the territory of Arles. The transformation of his name is significant. It is no longer necessary to describe the festival – no longer as an allusion to photography or its international character – this has become obvious, and the identity of Arles is attached to its festival, like that of Avignon, is attached to its festival. Today, Arles is part of Marseille-Provence 2013, the European capital of culture. This year is also crucial for Arles because the projects of the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie, the Luma Foundation and the Van Gogh Foundation will be realized. I salute Maja Hoffmann’s constant commitment and the magnificent project she is carrying with Franck Gehry in favour of contemporary creation. And I congratulate Bice Curiger on his appointment as artistic director of the Van Gogh Foundation. It is through the intelligent alliance of all its cultural actors that Arles will become much more than a major event in photography and will be able to rank among the international cities of creation and image. I know how important it is to you Mr. Mayor that Arles assert itself in the cultural and creative economy. I understand the development project that the President and the Director of Meetings recently presented. Not as a competing project or as a hegemonic project but as an ambition for Arles that would bring together all the cultural actors in an organized complementarity. Mr Mayor and Mr President of the Region, I am ready, if you wish, to accompany this dynamic by entrusting to the General Inspection of Cultural Affairs an accompanying mission that would facilitate, in close coordination with you, the implementation of a coherent and concerted project.


Let’s go back to photography.


Photography is a mode of expression that has grown considerably. It concerns both amateur and professional practices. The sector is undergoing considerable changes in the digital age, which is revolutionizing both uses and modes of production.


I would like to say a few words about my priorities.


First of all, the conditions for the profession of photographer, which, as I said, are greatly disrupted by digital technology in particular.


I have launched several projects whose conclusions will be presented to me soon:


- That of the social protection of artists-authors, with a joint mission of IGAC and IGAS that I launched with Marisol Touraine and Bernard Cazeneuve and whose purpose is notably to optimize the service rendered to artists-and extend the scope of their protection. I asked the inspection to pay particular attention to the profession of photographers. The report will be given to me on June 1.


- Another project is the Lescure mission, which is studying the remuneration conditions for creators in the digital age. With regard to photographers, the mission, the conclusions of which will be returned to me at the beginning of next month, should propose diagnostic elements, on the one hand, on the issue of reserved rights - practice now become common, or even distorted, since it no longer concerns only «orphan photographs», whose author cannot be identified – and on the other hand, on «micro stocks», these banks of images at low prices that undermine the professional practice of the profession of photographer.


- In addition, I am closely following the work undertaken by the Conseil supérieur de la propriété littéraire et artistique (CSPLA) has launched several missions, including a reflection on «tools for referencing works of the mind on the internet». What is being targeted this time is search engine referencing and indexing, which then allows you to view and copy still images, without creators collecting copyright, while these same engines are paid through advertising. The conclusions of this work will in principle be presented next summer. 

- Finally, I would like to pay particular attention to photo-journalists.


I am pleased that the offer of takeover of the agency SIPA Press retained by the commercial court at the end of March is the one that retains the essential link between the photographic background and a real news agency activity.


Drawing inspiration from the Code of Practice for Photographic Illustration in the 1993 edition, I also hope that a code of good practice can be concluded between the photographic press agencies and the publishers of paper and digital press. It would protect news agencies from certain practices that have developed in the absence of any formal contract when the photographs are marketed and thus make their activity viable. If the professionals concerned agree, a mediation entrusted to Francis Brun Buisson can be organized under the aegis of the Ministry, the State proposing to play the role of the trusted third party which often makes it possible to reconcile points of view. This discussion could begin in the coming weeks.


My second priority is arts education and higher education.


- I will ensure that image education is developed as part of the arts education pathways we are setting up with Vincent Peillon.


- I would also like to point out that I have decided that the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie project will be launched this year even though my department’s budget is under the strain that you all know. I am convinced that this school will contribute not only to train great professionals in photography (artists, curators, exhibition curators...), but also to confirm Arles as a territory of education and research on the image.


Finally, third priority, I will extend the efforts made to enhance the photographic heritage.


- I hope that all public heritage institutions under the Ministry of Culture, whether archives, libraries or museums, will continue to be involved in the collection, conservation and communication of photographic collections. There is sometimes a temptation to group all these funds into one institution. But this hypothesis does not seem to me to be realistic or desirable, because institutional diversity makes it possible to respond to the variety of wishes of private donors, the preference being sometimes for archives, sometimes for libraries, sometimes for museums. On the other hand, unity must be sought in the procedures for handling funds and in their dissemination for cultural purposes.


- I also asked the RMN-GP to continue the work carried out on the Arago portal, which gives everyone access to large public and private photo collections.


On all these subjects, the Mission Photo assumes a transversal role in relation to all departments of my ministry. I will ensure that its leadership and coordination role is strengthened.


Before giving you the floor, gentlemen, I would like to mention a programme which I would like to implement.


As you know, I have decided not to develop very large new projects. It is not only for budgetary reasons, but also because I think that it is not by accumulating new equipment that we are designing a cultural policy today. However, we have a duty to make better use of the exceptional resources at our disposal. And I think we have to give them to people where they are.


That is my project.


This is the new cultural pact I want to make with the nation.


I will have the opportunity to present to you shortly the proposals I intend to develop as part of a program that would play this role of "revealer". I would like to tell you that photography will play an important role.


Photography has the power to reveal what the gaze, other senses or intelligence do not always perceive, especially in territories, landscapes, living spaces and people.


In close collaboration with the professional actors of photography, among which I will associate the National Center of Plastic Arts and the Jeu de Paume, but also the National School of Photography and the Rencontres d'Arles, I will initiate projects to which I want to give an important contribution and sharing dimension via social networks.


I am convinced that these projects based on photography bring meaning and hope to our country and our fellow citizens who need more than ever to regain confidence in their ability to face the future.


Thank you.