Madam Minister, dear Roselyne,

It is such an honour to succeed you here in the Ministry of Culture in the ministry of what gives meaning and taste to life.

We have very different paths, but we are linked, I believe, by the same values, the same fighting spirit, probably inherited from our grand mothers – Corentine, yours, an incredible model of emancipation! – we share, I believe, the same curiosity, the same insatiable appetite for art, literature, music, theatre, which has guided our whole life. 

At the head of this Ministry - you have just summed it up admirably - not only have you deployed all that it was possible to deploy, whatever the cost, to preserve the cultural sector in the face of the health crisis, but you have been able to bring about historic bills, historic budgets, a historic stimulus package, I won’t go into detail because you’ve said it all. It is impossible to mention all your exploits! But there is one more that I want to mention: you have delighted us with magnificent tirades recited wonderfully, with the verve that we know you, extracted from Racine, Molière or Joachim du Bellay. Thank you for these moments of great pleasure!

Your courage, your humour, your sense of listening, your involvement in the territories and your determination as a lioness will forever mark this Ministry, and beyond this Ministry, will mark, for a long time, France. For all this, a huge bravo and a huge thank you!

I also want to acknowledge the work of your entire team – whom I know well – a team that is united, committed and so effective, without whom nothing would have been possible. And of course pay tribute to the work of all departmental officials, who spared no effort, especially at the peak of the pandemic, to work for France’s cultural resilience.

So here I am, leaving the position of Shadow Councillor to become Minister of the French Republic.

I want to thank the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister who entrust me with this high responsibility.

On this special day, I have a thought for my parents, who have given me the foundation of trust that allows me to stand before you today without wavering, who had the courage to leave Beirut in the middle of war with their 3 children and 5 suitcases and who chose France for its motto of freedom, equality, brotherhood, to which they never ceased to believe and contribute;

I have a thought for my 4th grade French teacher at the Collège Charles Sénard de Caluire, who transmitted me the most beautiful virus, the theater virus!

I have a thought for the children of the refugee camps, hospitals and orphanages that I visited with the NGO Clowns sans frontières, it is in their eyes that I understood the magic of the show.

Becoming a Minister was not a dream for me. My dream was to become and remain free! But I have accepted this challenge that I did not expect, this challenge that is an immense responsibility, because I believe in the cultural ambition of the President of the Republic, because I believe in the new impetus that our Prime Minister will instill, because I believe in each and every one of you, the living forces of the cultural world, because I believe, above all, in the power of artists.

I wish to share with you today some convictions, I think I can say that they are even resolutions, both intimate and political – since everything is linked!

I am determined to fight to invest more massively than ever in arts education, in the encouragement of artistic practices and to develop the cultural envy of our youth. I look forward to working with Pap Ndiaye, Minister of National Education;

I am determined to defend our cultural sovereignty, to affirm the place of French creation, the French language, French innovation in the digital ocean – and soon in the metaverse, amplify the development of our cinema, our creative industries, both in France, Europe and internationally; 

Determined also to defend our heritage, to preserve it, to make it more accessible, and to continue, whenever possible, to invite artists of today to reveal it, to tell it, to reinvent it. Heritage is also about jobs and vocations. I want to bring a great plan for the development of crafts in collaboration with the departments that will be concerned, it is vital to perpetuate our know-how, but also to create future jobs for our youth.

It is also important for me to place culture at the heart of the policy of appeasing the memories that the President of the Republic has courageously instilled since 2017. It is neither a policy of repentance nor a policy of denial, it is a policy of recognition. And the Ministry of Culture has a key role to play, as it did with the early opening of the archives of the war of Algeria or Rwanda, as it did with building a new relationship with the African continent.

I am determined to defend a strong, pluralistic and independent public broadcaster, one that will continue to adapt to new uses and to this ever-accelerating digital revolution. The President announced, moreover, States General for the right to information, it is an essential issue for the future of our democracy, we will tackle it, all together, as soon as possible.

I also want the Ministry of Culture to be able to accompany our public institutions, our museums, our monuments, the sectors of our cultural industries in their ecological transition, it is a major and titanic challenge;

I want to work with elected officials in all communities, associations, the public, the private sector and, more broadly, all those who want to take action to open doors and windows even bigger! Yes, the harder times are, the more daring and imagination we need! Let’s try new experiments, work even more with our European neighbours, let’s find new talent, prepare the next generation!

All these challenges I want to bring with enthusiasm and combativeness to the head of this wonderful ministry. Welcome the energy and audacity of artists and professionals, listen to your ideas, accompany your experiments. There are you, who are here today, but there are all those who are less visible or further away, artisans, small companies, independent actors, entrepreneurs, third-places, patrons as well – let’s not forget them – as large donors. You all have your place in this project! And to all, I mean you can count on me.

Of course, the context is difficult, I am fully aware of that. “There is a taste of dust in everything, and the anger that follows us everywhere.” But nothing will stop us from dancing again, laughing again, dreaming again! Obviously.  

 

The handover ceremony is available for viewing here