Madam Director General of School Education,

Secretary General, dear Christopher Miles,

Dear Hélène Orain, Director General of the Porte Dorée public institution,

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

I am happy to meet you in this place to which Najat Vallaud-Belkacem and I are deeply attached. In many ways, it deserves a moment.

If I want to mention it in more detail, it is not only because it comes under the tutelage of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research.

If I want to speak more about this place, it is above all for what it represents, for what it says about the Nation, for what it says about us. In housing the National Museum of Immigration History, he says that we are a people whose culture is shaped by past and by another.

He says that France is a land whose identity was born from the encounter of an ideal of universality and a plurality of cultures. Terroirs from here and culture, which it has always welcomed and always integrated.

He says that France is crossed at the same time, as Mona Ozouf says so well, “by the equality in all of reason”, at the heart of the school, and the “domain of particularity”, that of the house, which is also that of culture.

He says the history of France is not perfect. He says that she has experienced weaknesses, that she has made mistakes – we are here in a Colonial Exhibition Palace – but that even in the most difficult times, she has always been seen and recognized as a welcoming land. “Every man has two homelands: his own and France.”

He says that the greatness of France is to have given birth to Voltaire, Rousseau, Hugo, but also to have welcomed Picasso, MarieSkłodowska-Curie, Kundera, Semprun, Yasmina Khadra, Boualem Sansal, Adel Abdessemed, and many others, unknown, anonymous and who also shaped his culture in turn.

He says that the identity of France is not a univocal and petrified identity, ethnicized and closed, withdrawn into itself, because it would be paralyzed by the future. Because that identity never existed.

This place says that culture, as conceived by France, is a way to explore other possibilities, to slip into the skin of another, “to live in bygone times and cities where you have never set foot, to live the tragedies that have spared you, but also the joys to which you have not been entitled, to go through the entire keyboard of human emotions, to fall in love and deprave yourself.” Words, again, from Mona Ozouf.

That is what the terrorists targeted by stealing those lives in January and November. It is all this that is unbearable to them, because all this offers no hold to their obscurantism.

This is all that we have to oppose to the merchants bad solutions, who distill fears and hatreds to produce a dangerous opium.

It is in this, in this culture, that the leaven of a stronger unity rests, because it makes free and gathers at once by giving depth to our lives.

It is all this, it is this culture, which you make known to children and young people, which you strive to make live and transmit, through arts and cultural education. Because it is at the age where everything begins that everything is played out and everything is open.

That is why arts and cultural education is our priority, with Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, and we have allocated additional resources to it. And it is with you, it is thanks to your decisive commitment, to your tireless daily mobilization, that we can make it produce all its fruits.

How to meet this challenge?

First, by training actors in the territories. Second, by their involvement.

Together, we must build our practices, develop experiments, listen to and learn from our partners in the field. We must open the doors of the school to art and culture, and we must continue this action outside the school walls.

Our roadmap is clear: we presented it together in February to the Council of Ministers. It is the basis of our national plan for arts and cultural education. The BEC repository is an essential building block, and you will work on it throughout the day.

Our joint action is nothing without the involvement of the other ministries – and especially of agriculture, and without that of our partners – local authorities, artists, cultural actors, associations of popular education. We must gather around us to succeed.

In its field of action, my Ministry develops levers, which are complementary to this policy, which serve as a point of support.

The bill “freedom of creation, architecture and heritage” that I am wearing was an opportunity to lay other stones: allowing private copying to finance arts and cultural education actions, broadening the meaning of arts and culture education to include all audiences throughout life, with a major recognition of the role and place of the artist. With these advances, we will go even further in our partnership. I would also like to take this opportunity to salute the initiatives that accompany our action: that of SACEM, with the “Fabrique à Chanson”, that of SACD, with “un artiste à l'école”.

My ambition is to act in the long term, everywhere, in every territory. This is the meaning of the arts and culture plan for children and youth, Belle Saison generation, which I introduced last week. It takes over from the Belle Saison, a successful 18-month experience that has mobilized many cultural actors and services to develop a cultural and artistic offer aimed specifically at young people.

Its success will require a general mobilization. We will strengthen the means of production in the labeled and contractual structures, we will be able to count on the involvement of national public institutions, we will be able to rely on the commitment of the author companies. We will also develop the training of cultural actors and artists, we will sustain professional platforms in the territories, we will rely on resources to evaluate and support this artistic and cultural offer for youth. All this will help you implement the BEC journeys.

My ambition is to rely on local cultural facilities, libraries and conservatories, because they are often the first places of culture frequented by young people, and participate in arts and cultural education.

Because I am convinced that collective artistic practices are at the heart of the success of what we engage, I wanted to emphasize them further in 2016. My Ministry will therefore again fund the conservatories, so that their teaching is not primarily focused on the artistic training of future performers or teachers, but so that they are fully involved in the arts and cultural education policy. They must rediscover the primary mission of being the place of amateur training, the school of the spectator. The support that the Ministry of Culture will provide – the criteria and modalities are being defined with the local authorities – will target in particular the poorest territories. Conservatories will therefore have to work in network with other actors, to address families and young people who are remote from the dominant codes and practices of culture.

We will also rely on other initiatives such as the 30 DEMOS orchestras of the Philharmonie that are to be deployed on the territory, or the projects of the association «Orchestre à l'Ecole».

I also want to take advantage of the exceptional network of 16,000 libraries and media libraries in France. Their schedules need to be more responsive to today’s rhythms of life, and we will be helping communities along that path next year. Everyone must also bear in mind that libraries are not only places of information resources and access to knowledge; they are increasingly taking on a “third place” function that our youth profoundly need. A library is a meeting place, a place of sharing, where we can break the isolation, have fun, learn, live. We need to work collectively on that. I would add that next year we will double the territorial-reading contracts, which support local initiatives to make access to books, music, and the press a reality for everyone.

My ambition is finally to act so that we are always more present in the territories that need it the most, whether they are periurban or rural, and arts and cultural education is the first of the policies that we must carry there. This year we have made a substantial effort in their direction. New initiatives have emerged in the area of arts and cultural education, but also access to the French language, or support for local media, which contribute to community life. We have to pursue them, with the greatest demands. That’s the priority I gave to the regional cultural affairs branches. I would like to add, in order to welcome this and hope that this effort will go even further, that more than 350 city contracts now have a cultural component that mobilizes at least one cultural actor and that deploys the mechanisms of arts and cultural education. This was also a new and important direction in 2015.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, arts and culture education is fundamental to me. It is also through it that we will be able to respond to the doubts that cross our country. It is with her that we can go to the reconquest of those who have doubts about the capacity of the Republic to make room for them. And I am thinking in particular of the young people, the territories that live with a sense of abandonment, the families that suffer from precariousness. Not because we will thus provide them with an “extra soul”, but because we will give them both reasons for hope and help them to build a foundation on which to build.

And this base is called culture.

I’m counting on you.

Thank you.