Mr President,

Madam President of the Committee on Culture,

Madam Rapporteur,

Mr Rapporteur,

Ladies and gentlemen of the Senate,


There are laws that come down in front of Parliament and, along the way, enriched by the work of the assemblies, become a milestone for the policies they bear.

In view of the work – intense – to which the Committee on Culture, Education and Communication submitted the proposed text, I believe that the one we are writing today will be among the major laws of French cultural policy.

Such an abundance of amendments can only be a clear sign of the importance you attach to it.

Whether the government shares the findings of the Commission’s work or not — and we will see later that it is far from sharing all of them — it is to be welcomed that the Senate has taken hold of them.

If everything helps to make this debate an important moment for the future of culture in France, I still have to specify, regardless of the discussion at the bottom that we will engage, the government’s intention in this law.

Everyone will agree that the great change, in which digital technology and globalization combine, is shaking the cultural life of our country.

Heritage, artistic life, access to culture: there is no area of cultural action that is not affected, from near or far, by these upheavals, in which we can see the mark of our time.

A question then arises: under these new conditions, do the rules and arrangements we have taken in the past to organize cultural life still have the same effectiveness today, and will they still have it tomorrow?

To ask that question is to answer it.

Adapting to this new situation is all the more necessary as we need a rich and diverse artistic life, a preserved heritage, to enrich and strengthen the bonds that unite us – the bonds through which we form a Nation.

The tragic events of 2015 reinforced the government’s belief in this. That is why it has made it one of its top priorities.

In this matter, the troubled times we are experiencing redouble the responsibility of the executive as well as the legislator. I know that the High Assembly will bear this in mind during this debate.

It is no surprise that new legislation is needed.

Not everything calls for a law, of course. That is why we have included in this text only what needed to be included.

But to reaffirm the foundations of our cultural policies, to modernize some of our provisions, and to enshrine a new freedom in our codes, legislation was needed.

Modernizing heritage protection was necessary.

Like every time it was necessary to redefine its perimeter.

Indeed, there was a time when what we called “heritage” was limited to masterpieces and great monuments. Their review, preservation and restoration forced the state to intervene.

Then came the time of the oldest and most remarkable neighbourhoods and surroundings. It was a question both of protecting the traces of our past, because «an isolated masterpiece, said Malraux, is a dead masterpiece», and of improving the living and working conditions of the French.

This led my Department to pass the 1962 Great Law on Safeguarded Areas, to save neighbourhoods threatened with abandonment or destruction and to help communities, forced to “choose between bulldozing and restoration.” Malraux thus opened a new stage for the protection of heritage, which continued to deepen.


Thanks to the Defferre laws, which committed cultural decentralisation, the State, guarantor of the preservation of the traces of the past, has acquired the indispensable assistance of the communities, which have not ceased to commit themselves to it by its side. Without their action, without the decisive involvement of their elected representatives, nothing would have been possible.

In the castles of princes as in the castles of industry, an equal value of existence was soon recognized.

To the medieval districts as well as to the Renaissance districts, to the old villages nestled on the hillside as to the working-class cities, to the houses built by anonymous people, as to the buildings signed by great architects, a great deal is granted today.

There is now a consensus on how to preserve and enhance them, and that is a good thing. The legislation we have put in place over time gives our country, its history and its territories a unique aspect that we are proud of and that many other countries envy.

There is, I believe, no area of cultural life that does not arouse so much attachment by the French today.

The success of the European Heritage Days, the commitment of our fellow citizens in the many associations that work to safeguard it testify to this.

And like you, like every elected official, like every resident of our country, I share this enthusiasm.

One might have thought—some still believe it—that we should stop there.

A first visit to the Villa Cavrois, which we owe to the genius of Robert Mallet-Stevens, and which was saved from destruction thanks to the attention and tenacity of the curators of heritage, architects of historic monuments, architects and restaurateurs would already be enough to convince us otherwise.

The dismemberment of such eminent sites, the dispersion of their furniture, which must henceforth be bought at auction, testify if need be, of the need to extend the protection of public authority to the movable property attached to these places, and heritage less than a hundred years old, whose remarkable character is not always immediately perceived by the general public.

This bill provides for that, as it creates the national domains, which are uniquely linked to our history, and it recognizes in national law the UNESCO heritage.

Expanding the field of state protection was already a primary objective. But the need for this law is even deeper.

It is enough, to be convinced, to go today in many cities of medium size, and in many towns of France.

Alongside the «great migrations» of the rural exodus, which Malraux invoked to justify the 1962 law, we must now summon the smaller ones, who led our citizens to settle on the outskirts of cities and villages.  

Here and there, peripheries are growing, while centres are emptying and impoverishing. And it is entire neighbourhoods and villages that are now in danger.

What threatens heritage, as you know better than I, is the absence of life. What fails to complete it is the absence of use. Stones do not survive, they are only preserved, when they are inhabited.

All this is not irremediable. The protection of heritage can help revitalize territories now threatened. Many mayors have experienced this.

What Chinon has become today, what Besançon, Cahors or Le Havre have become, other cities and other villages in France can become in their turn. Our responsibility is to help them.

I was quoting Chinon just now, and I can only use the example of Yves Dauge, your former colleague.

I hope that with him, with you and the mayors concerned, we will work on this, so that the implementation of historic cities will be an opportunity to rethink our tools for revitalizing centres.

I proposed to the Prime Minister, in conjunction with my housing colleague, that a mission be established on this issue of major concern to many elected officials and to many of our fellow citizens in medium and rural cities.   

It is therefore no longer a matter of expanding the protection of heritage, as has been done so far, but of strengthening it by clarifying it and making it more readable.

Clarification alone would suffice to make it more effective: it will facilitate the work of elected officials and strengthen the accompaniment of the State.

Legibility alone would be enough to increase our interest and attachment to this heritage: the more identifiable the heritage, the more attractive it will be.

We’ll do both.

These are the reasons that led the government to propose to the legislator the creation of historical cities. When the law comes into force, France should count more than 800. Others, I hope, will be added later.

Any clarification raises concerns. Local elected officials have expressed that. Your debates in the Commission reflected that. Who wouldn’t understand it?

It must be said that many of the measures taken during the previous five-year period have burned more than one elected official. Isn’t it the Grenelle II law, adopted in 2010, that already condemned all the MPPAPs not yet transformed into LDAs to disappear? As of 14 July 2016, more than 600 have been affected.


The first of your concerns was semantics. You were concerned about whether the term “historic city” could adequately cover the protected heritage. To this first question, I let history and common sense answer for me.

The story speaks for itself, indeed. Has it not been since the end of the 14th century that the term «city» has been used to evoke the oldest part of a city? We owe this first use to Jehan Froissart, who employed him first, in his famous Chronicles The Hundred Years War.

And this is Emile Zola, in His Excellency Eugene Rougon, who first divests it of a strict urban obedience, to attribute it to any group of houses «having the same destination.»

So if every city is a city, every city is not necessarily a city. A hamlet or a built complex can claim this title perfectly. To want to attribute it to them, is only to be faithful to the etymology!

As for common sense, it should, ladies and gentlemen Senators, convince us of the imperative need to renounce acronyms.

The reason I proposed the term “historic city” is that I want heritage to be more visible to our fellow citizens.

It’s because I want them to own it even more.

It is because I want them to recognize the value of historic cities as they recognize the value of historic monuments.

It is already rare that acronyms unite the crowds. In this respect, AVAP and ZPPAUP were probably among the most exclusive and unknown to the general public.

I will leave it to you, and we will come back to this, to determine whether the name “protected heritage site”, chosen by your rapporteur, meets these objectives. The comparative poetic charge of SPP and historical cities seems to me likely to convince you.

Alongside the «semantic» concern, a concern of another order was expressed.

At the end of this reform, local elected officials wondered, will the support of the State always be of the same magnitude, a necessary condition for the protection of the heritage to be absolutely guaranteed?

My answer to that question is yes, without hesitation.

Yes, the State will continue to be at the side of the elected representatives of the territories, through the decision it will take to pronounce the classification of historical cities, through the agreement it will give to the various planning and management documents that will accompany the classification, through the technical and financial assistance it will provide to local authorities for the preparation of these documents, through the assent and advice provided by the architects of the French buildings, or through the national and regional commissions to which its services will strongly participate.

No, the State will not abandon communities or heritage – quite the contrary.


But such a reform cannot be built without local elected representatives. If they do not wear it with us, if they do not recognize it, it cannot bear fruit.

 A fortiori because there is no such partnership policy as the protection of heritage.

A fortiori because I wanted the communities to be strengthened, like the State, in the role of guarantors of this protection.

I am therefore attentive to the solutions that come from the territories and that are likely to improve the effectiveness of the text.

In fact, for historic cities or parts of historic cities that will not be affected by a preservation and development plan, Ms. Férat suggests the creation of an “architecture and heritage development plan”., which would be annexed to the local urban plan.

In your opinion, this solution addresses the concerns that have been expressed. I am prepared to work on that. Therefore, I have proposed an amendment that builds on this proposal while making the adjustments that I think are necessary.

I invite you to join me in this, and I am ready to take up some of the developments you have wanted. On this point, it seems to me that everything is in place so that we can build a cross-party compromise.

On other points, however, your committee and the Senate majority did not show the same foresight. Our disagreements remain. I am thinking in particular of preventive archaeology.

Our policy in this area is now unbalanced. The excellent report by MP Martine Faure showed that.

By reinforcing the high scientific standards of our preventive archaeology, the project resulting from the debates in the National Assembly aimed precisely to restore balance.

He did this by strengthening each of the actors in their role, while clarifying their respective intervention scopes.

He ensured this balance, guaranteeing the scientific character of the excavations they conduct.

I recall in particular that the project recognized the participation of the archaeological services of the local authorities in the public service of preventive archaeology and strengthened their action by a lasting empowerment, instead of mere approval. And this without calling into question the role of private companies that have their place, I mean here, in preventive archaeology.  

So I hope to convince you to go back to the original draft.

One more word, to end this evocation of heritage.

If we focus so much on developing it, it is because it contributes to the attractiveness and cultural life of our territories, as I mentioned. But it is also because it is a point of reference, of permanence, in a world in perpetual motion.

However, if we look with such interest at the remains of the past, it is not to go back.

If we give so much space to the past, it is not to resurrect it, in a mythical and forever frozen version, as some, today, seek to do.

If we safeguard heritage, it is because it reminds us that men have come before us, and others will come after us.

If we preserve the inheritance, it is because it reminds us that we are mortal, and that we must fight against those who claim to build - or raise - an eternal France that has never existed except in their wildest and most dangerous fantasies.

So let’s not use heritage protection as an excuse to lock in the future.

Let us not leave heritage to those who use it to better criticize contemporary creation.

Let us preserve the legacy, while remaining more open than ever to invention and creativity.

Who would dispute today that the Louvre was enhanced in its splendour by the Pyramid of Pei?  

To be attentive to the past, to be open to the future: this is the ambition that the government pursues. This is why he wanted to bring together creation and heritage in a single text.

This is the battle he is waging. That is why he wanted clause 1 of this bill to make creative freedom a fundamental freedom.

I therefore welcome the vote of your Commission.

This article has sometimes been criticized, including in this Chamber, for not being prescriptive. It has sometimes been criticized for its sobriety. The power of a law, as you know better than I, is not measured by the jurisprudence it will create.

A law is not always there to compel; it is also there to make possible.

This law will therefore strengthen France as a country where art and creation have a special place.

This law will consecrate France as a country where politics does not dictate its law to the artistic, and leaves no hold to those who intend to do so. 

This new freedom has interest, of course, only if there is space to exercise it.

Since we have talked at length about building and its preservation, you will allow me to go back, to talk about building and its innovation. I mean, of course, architecture.

And here again, I can only deplore, I can only regret, the fate that your committee has reserved for the greatest freedom that we have offered to architects.


You claim your attachment to a free artistic creation, but you refuse to grant architects the freedom to experiment – under conditions that are nevertheless supervised.


You are worried that the peripheries and the entrances of cities end up being so uniform, and you refuse that architects intervene more in individual constructions, for small surfaces.

Malraux himself, in introducing the 1962 law, recused all those who boasted of being defenders of heritage by building from new to old.

He was already inviting, when it came to new buildings, to choose modernity. He said, “When the old comes into play, reconstruction inevitably leads to the ersatz.” We will have a debate in this chamber.

And I hope that in this debate you will remain faithful to Malraux, whom you often claim to be.

Like architects, artists need favourable and sustainable conditions to dare to create freely. It is a fact that digital technology and globalization are transforming them.

In particular, these major changes profoundly alter the relationships between actors – artists, producers, broadcasters and distributors. Therefore, let us ask the question: what provisions need to be modernized to guarantee artists lasting conditions favourable to creation? What provisions, on the contrary, must be reaffirmed and supplemented?

In this matter, I demand a method: to stimulate negotiations between the actors, because they are best able to determine what is most beneficial to them collectively. We will therefore use the law only when necessary: either to ratify agreements or to assume a responsibility that the stakeholders did not want to assume, as I did on the book.

It is with this whole process in mind – including the struggles I have been fighting for copyright in the Community. including those I am prosecuting against the illegal offer – which I therefore invite you to consider and judge the amendments proposed to you by your rapporteur.

To rebalance the relationship between artists and film producers in the digital age, we have adapted our provisions to make these relationships more transparent.

As such, I can only rejoice that, on the initiative of David Assouline and the Socialist Group, you have transposed to the audiovisual sector what the Members have adopted for the cinema, because it is a real step forward.

On the other hand, as regards relations between producers and broadcasters, negotiations are under way, after a first agreement, long awaited, has been concluded between France Télévisions and the producers.

Anything that would unbalance these negotiations or take the actors by surprise must therefore be avoided. I therefore have to disagree with the amendments adopted in committee on this subject on the initiative of your rapporteur.



Similarly, it is the transparency we have favoured to rebalance relations between performers and music producers on the one hand, and between producers and online music platforms on the other.

Thus, the equitable development of online music was the subject of an agreement signed by many organizations in the music industry, under the leadership of Marc Schwartz. There are also other negotiations under way. They are being closely monitored internationally, because this agreement has no precedent. It is therefore important, once again, not to do anything that could unbalance these negotiations. 

On the other hand, I regret that you refuse to extend the legal licence to linear webcasting, which presents no difficulty as we are only applying the principle of technological neutrality. I hope to convince you to reconsider.  

The provisions governing cinema, audiovisual media and music therefore need to be modernised, because they are primarily exposed to digital change and globalisation. Others, on the contrary, need to be affirmed or supplemented.

First is freedom of programming and freedom of broadcasting. They are the foundation of our history. They are our pride. Without it, no cultural life would be possible. More than ever, it is important to preserve them. I am therefore extremely attentive to ensuring that these freedoms are guaranteed.

It is also all the provisions that provide a lasting framework for public intervention in cultural matters that need to be affirmed.

These are labels, to which it is necessary to give an indisputable legal basis.

These are social rights, which must be opened up to the circus and puppetry professions, after the intermittency regime has been enshrined in the law on social dialogue and employment.

It is the training of aspiring artists, in our institutions of higher education culture, in the public preparatory classes for art schools – which will now be recognised by accreditation – and in the preparatory classes for the higher education of the performing arts, which replace the CEPI.

It is the inalienable character of public collections, which we propose to grant to those of the Regional Contemporary Art Funds.


Ladies and Gentlemen Senators,

You will have understood this: my concern is to give artists the possibility to create freely, in this new environment, by taking the necessary measures and consolidating the necessary means.

It is to allow cultural actors, who work with them, to exercise their profession in a secure environment. It is to support employment in this sector and to give better guarantees to professional artists.

It is to strengthen the protection of heritage, for the benefit of all.

Because everything must be done to ensure that a rich and diverse cultural life is offered to the French.

Because my ultimate goal remains the participation of all our fellow citizens in cultural life.

I assume that this objective runs through this text in its entirety.

I assume that there are a lot of provisions that support and facilitate that in this new context.

I am thinking of the copyright exemption reform to make it easier for people with disabilities to read. I am pleased that there is a consensus.

I am thinking of the affirmation of arts and cultural education as a major focus of our cultural policies.

But there are two provisions in particular for which I hope our views will converge during the debate. I want to talk about the reform of conservatories and the recognition of amateur practices, because this is the cultural life of the French.

It is thanks to a very important network of conservatories, unique in Europe, that our children have access to demanding artistic training and practice. We’ve talked about this quite often with Catherine Morin-Desailly.

She knows how, from the moment I arrived on Rue de Valois, I was particularly concerned.

My ambition is to make specialized arts education, collective artistic practice, amateur training in conservatories, a means to strengthen the participation of all young people in culture and to offer them quality arts and cultural education.

I wanted to confirm the main principles of the 2004 law, and confirm the distribution of tasks between the local authorities and the State.

I wanted to re-engage the State in the funding of conservatories so that their actions can go even further, for all children, in all territories, towards a greater diversity.

But it is also as an amateur that the French practice arts and culture. 12 million of them do it regularly.

How could I not want to go with them?

How can we not want to remove the legal uncertainty that amateur or professional shows face every day?

Here again, it is a matter of adapting to these new conditions in which the French participate in cultural life, while preserving and strengthening professional employment, which remains our priority.

I know that the Senate is very anxious to promote these advances, particularly Maryvonne Blondin and Sylvie Robert, who, like me, are very committed to promoting a culture of participation. 




Ladies and Gentlemen Senators,

It is nothing less than the future of the cultural life of France that is in your hands today.

The future of its heritage, which you can choose to protect better.

The future of its territories, which you can choose to showcase more.

The future of its artists and architects, to whom you can choose to grant new freedoms.

The future of its cultural professionals, to whom you can provide the support they need to accompany creators in their work.

Finally, the future of the French, who do not cease to seek, in cultural life, those bonds that unite us, those bonds that unite us and elevate us, and also make us citizens.

In these times of great change, when digital and globalization are combined, the terrain on which we have built our cultural policies is changing.

This text gives us the means to adapt to it.

This text reinforces the place that our country gives to artists. It shows the confidence they have in telling the world of today and imagining the world of tomorrow.

Let’s take the full measure. Let us allow the coming generations to take part in a cultural life that is always so diverse, always so intense, always so conducive to nourishing their curiosity.

Because in it, they will find what to face the turbulences of the world.


Thank you.