Ladies and gentlemen,
We were supposed to meet on November 16.
The terrible attacks that struck Paris and Saint-Denis on the evening of November 13 and mourned France postponed this meeting. But they did not postpone the need.
For, no doubt, the significance of what you have accomplished in the last eighteen months has never been so evident.
We have never, no doubt, felt to this extent the need to deploy culture everywhere and to make it accessible to everyone from an early age.
Like many of you this morning, I feel the urgency and urgency of what we have built together, with La Belle Saison, and what we are about to build together, for the next ten years, with Generation Belle Saison.
Theatre, which I practised as a child, made me stronger. It gave me a foothold. It gave me confidence. He opened me to the world and taught me to look at it differently. He taught me to live, quite simply, as lucidly as possible.
I owe it all to artists, educators, teachers, librarians. They opened doors for me, taught me how to paint, taught me how to express myself.
They once slipped an opera tape into my walkman. Then they slipped more into my walkman, until they reconfigured my life. All of them helped me to break the shackle that allowed me one day, on my own, to cross the threshold of the Opéra Garnier or the Comédie française, even though I had been dreaming about it for so many years.
I’m not here to talk about myself.
But I mention my journey before you this morning because it resonates intensely with the experiences you have just recounted. I found there the same generosity, the same enthusiasm, the same artistic and civic conscience at the same time, as when I was a child.
Today, I want to say thank you to all those who have accompanied me and thank you on behalf of all the children you will guide on this path of arts and culture.
Thank you, thank you to everyone who has gone before you, and thank you to everyone who will follow you.
Thank you to all those who have worked, with all the depth of conviction, with all the appetite for the unexpected that nurtures curiosity, to make La Belle Saison a success. Thank you to Gwénola David who was the national coordinator, to Alain Brunsvick and to all those who carried this conviction internally as in our two associations: Scène(s) d'enfance et d'ailleurs and Assitej France, whose merger I salute.
Thank you to all those who worked to make concrete, tangible, palpable, an absolutely founding principle of our republican ideal.
This principle is that we become ourselves only through cultural life.
This principle is that we form a nation only through culture.
This principle is that one cannot enter the world, as the Classics said, without having first, as a child and young teenager, experienced culture.
Because culture, because living art, are first experience.
With the book, with the theatre, with the show, we come to ask words about feelings that embrace us and that we believe are unprecedented, until art makes us realize that they are simply universal.
I heard Marion Aubert recount her work in progress with these eight classes who worked and wrote with her. What could be more racinal than this love triangle in which Felix, Bénédicte and Rachel, who are only eight years old, are caught?
I heard Anne Nguyen speak with emotion about the power of dance to express what words cannot say. I heard her speak passionately about this way of writing with the body, of making the encounter with the other manifest, of giving meaning to the emotions that cross the world. I heard her summarize the incredible pleasure that can be felt by a teenager who discovers a talent, long hidden, that only wanted to blossom, and is suddenly the object of recognition, even admiration, that he was denied in other places.
What were hundreds of young and old celebrating on November 13, in the Bataclan hall or at coffee terraces? They were celebrating all of this. These moments of joy, of sharing, which bring us together in cultural life. The very thing that fanatics hate and despise, and that they have struck, because they do not let their hate speech control.
And what is missing for some of these young people, who are looking for a future and dream of a republican unity and friendship, but are mistaken in believing they find them in a discourse of identity, or in those, simplified to the extreme, Who carry the ferments of new totalitarianism? They lack access to culture. To these coming generations, the experience of culture must be made possible massively, concretely, intensely. And it begins with you. It starts with childhood. It starts with youth.
What an immense responsibility we have today! Yours, mine! But we will rise to the occasion. Because we have a lot to live up to. What you have done throughout these 18 months shows that. I have neither the latitude nor the possibility of being able to account for all that has been tied up through the thousand projects that you have carried out, everywhere in France and even beyond. Theatre, dance, music, circus arts, opera, puppetry, storytelling, multidisciplinary creations… Thanks to all these experiences, thanks to this corpus, we will be able to build, sustainably.
That is why we are gathered here today.
It is for this reason that Generation Belle Saison takes over from La Belle SeasonIt will form our action plan for arts and culture for children and youth.
With what you have done, produced, experienced, thought out and proposed, I have drawn seven objectives, which will be divided into as many actions in the coming years.
What La Belle Saison has confirmed for us is that nothing replaces, for children and young people, the encounter with the work. This is how we offer conditions conducive to the awakening of curiosity, to wonder, and then we respond to the desire for culture. When young people and artists work together to create, both win. In particular, we will encourage these steps. We will do so in particular in priority areas, in neighbourhoods, peri-urban areas and small towns, where culture is less accessible. The conservatories, which my Ministry will finance again next year, will be key players in developing these actions, placing arts and cultural education at the heart of their project. The encounter with the work is the first goal we will strive for, as it is at the heart of arts and culture education.
For there to be an encounter with the work, forgive me for stating this evidence, there must be artists, and singularly artists who create for children and youth. We must reaffirm this strongly this morning: this is indeed a creative activity in its own right. It must be recognized as such, as everyone is committed today to recognizing literature for children and adolescents – as the Salon du livre de Montreuil echoes every year, I was still there this weekend.
And it is up to us, it is up to the Ministry, it is up to the cultural actors, to organize so that a supply of quality accessible to all children can be massively developed. Because children are not addressed in the same way as adults, artists who follow this path, occasionally or permanently, must be supported in their choice.
The general mobilization must therefore be decreed. It is necessary when we are talking about all children and youth, who represent one-third of the population of our country. Access to the living arts, La Belle Saison reminded us, is the business of all: artists and representatives of artists, public institutions, labeled networks and conventioned scenes, in France as abroad. I will include the offer for children and youth as a full dimension of the activity of labeled networks and public institutions.
The Office National de Diffusion artistique and the French Institute will also be more committed to the dissemination of creations intended for youth, in France and abroad. Finally, I am pleased with the involvement of copyright collectives, which have strengthened their action in favour of the new generations throughout this year, and which today commit themselves to maintaining it for the years to come. Just as I am delighted with the «Belle saison Award» that will be awarded tomorrow by the National Theatre Centre to a playwright for his work dedicated to children and youth, an award that I want to see perpetuated. Together with everyone, we will always and everywhere defend those who fight for freedom of creation and freedom of programming. The law I bring to Parliament is made for that.
So that creators such as producers, educators, cultural structures and communities recognize each other better and know where to turn, we will map all the actors and all the actions.
Finally, I would like to add that working with children and youth requires special skills. Today, not all artists and professionals are necessarily prepared for this. So there is a significant effort to be made in terms of training. Next year, we will be working with the national association of institutions of higher education for artistic creation, performing arts, to make everyone aware of the encounter with children and youth. This training effort must also concern the work of mediators who make culture live in the territories and who are real art smugglers. To strengthen the artists who made this choice, to mobilize all the actors, to increase the skills to massively develop a quality offer everywhere in France: these are my objectives.
Being present everywhere in the territories is not seeking uniformity, and applying the same policies to each one. It is to organize to bring up as close as possible to the real, the lived space, quality shows for children and adolescents. Professional platforms, which have emerged with La Belle Saison, will be perpetuated in order to maintain a permanent dialogue between all actors of art and childhood. And it is from the field that we will draw up the experiences, the good practices, on the occasion of an annual meeting of reflection, like the one held last May in Villeneuve-lez-Avignon.
And so that this action may bear all its fruit, be constantly adjusted, according to the needs, and give rise to the research material we need to constantly experiment and never let ourselves be locked in the mechanics of everyday life, we will develop tools to observe and evaluate what will be achieved. Each disciplinary resource centre will devote part of the information it disseminates to children and youth and will transmit this data to the Observatory which will be established by the law freedom of creation, architecture and heritage that I wear. I also hope that we will meet again after five years, in 2020, to assess the progress made together. Acting closer to the territories, assessing and observing: these are my fifth and sixth objectives.
Because we are convinced that what is at stake with art for young people is vital for the future of our children and for the future of our country, we must finally make all our fellow citizens fully aware of this. We therefore need to give a new visibility to the work you will be doing. We will therefore organize public events. I am thinking in particular of the event we are going to dedicate to “young creation with youth”, each year at the Parc de la Villette and the scope we will give to the highlights established during the Belle Saison and which have had an international reputation, such as «Child in honour», on the occasion of the Festival d'Avignon. That’s my seventh goal.
You will have understood, my dear friends, that the access of children and adolescents to the living arts is at the heart of the policy that my Ministry will carry out in the next five years. This is an unprecedented turning point.
We drew it the day we initiated La Belle Saison.
We already thought about it the day the President of the Republic made arts and culture education the priority of this quinquennium. We have already prepared it by doubling, since 2012, the appropriations that the Ministry of Culture devotes to it. Today, we begin the practical work.
We are preparing to provide, everywhere in France, a quality offer for children and adolescents. So that this desire for living art may be born and grow in them – the desire for music, the desire for theatre, the desire for dance, opera, circus, street art and entertainment. To weave between them this fabric that brings together and is called culture. For them to grow with the ability to put their fears at a distance and to look to the future with the optimism of the will. So that they are free to dream the world, free to dream of transforming it.