Minister, dear Jean-Jacques AILLAGON,
Ladies and gentlemen parliamentarians,
Ladies and gentlemen elected,
Presidents and Directors,
Ladies and gentlemen,
France has always been a pioneer country. A country ahead. At the forefront. At the forefront. A country that knows how to seize opportunities.
From this point of view, we must recognize that the issue of patronage has long been an exception. For a long time, France offered little space to philanthropy. Because for a long time, it was considered that the state had a monopoly on the general interest.
In 2003, one of my predecessors decided it was time to change that. His name is Jean-Jacques AILLAGON.
He has done us the honour of joining us all day, and I want to thank him for that. I want to commend him for his courage. His audacity. His spirit of initiative.
The law that bears your name, dear Jean-Jacques, has changed the situation. With it, a new tax system has been applied to patronage. With it, the general interest became the business of society as a whole. Over the past 15 years, corporate philanthropy, individual philanthropy, and the creation of foundations and endowment funds have seen unprecedented growth. The amount of donations declared has been multiplied by 4; The number of corporate donors by 12. Today, new forms of patronage are developing successfully: I am thinking of “popular patronage”, which benefits in particular local projects throughout the country. There are public subscriptions, such as those launched by the Heritage Foundation or major national institutions. But there is also crowdfunding, whose turnover has tripled in 4 years. The social and solidarity economy, the reflection on mission-oriented enterprises, the possibility for large foundations to acquire shares of enterprises open other perspectives.
We owe all these developments to the AILLAGON law. It has made patronage an opportunity for France. An opportunity for our cultural life.
This opportunity, the Ministry of Culture has not ceased to encourage him, to accompany him, to help him to develop. Through the establishment, within the Ministry, of a structure of expertise and animation – the mission of patronage, created in 2003; by the drafting of a “charter of cultural patronage”, recalling the legal and ethical rules to be applied by institutions under the supervision of the Ministry. Through the partnerships he has engaged with institutions of the economic and legal world: Medef, chambers of commerce and industry, order of accountants, superior council of notariat, national council of bars.
With the creation of “regional centres of patronage”, designed to facilitate the meeting between economic actors and cultural leaders. Several of these poles already exist. That of the Pays de la Loire, in particular, is exemplary, and new ones are launched in Nouvelle Aquitaine and Occitanie. It will be discussed today.
We have to make sure that all companies are able to participate. All, including very small, small and medium-sized businesses. They account for 95% of our economic fabric, yet their sponsorship accounts for only a quarter of corporate sponsorship.
We know the cause. The annual tax exemption ceiling, which limits a company’s donations to 0.5% of its turnover, puts the TPE/SMEs at a severe disadvantage. It is therefore very good news that the national representation, during the first reading of the 2019 finance bill, decided to fix it.
It decided to remedy this by voting for the introduction of a deductible for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of €10,000 in annual payments above which the 0.5% ceiling will continue to apply. This measure was expected.
It will, I am convinced, strengthen the commitment of the smallest companies in the financing of culture in all our territories. But this opportunity of patronage has a cost.
Its vitality translates into an associated tax expenditure that has increased tenfold in 15 years. It now reaches 900 million euros, all types of patronage. This important effort by the State obliges us.
It obliges us to evaluate the device, and possibly to improve it, to limit its drift or deadweight effects. It imposes on us, collectively, rigour, transparency and ethics.
This is what the recent report of the Court of Auditors, submitted to the National Assembly’s finance committee and drawn up at the request of its President, invites us to do. During the first reading of the 2019 finance bill—and I would like to take this opportunity to salute Gilles CARREZ—the National Assembly was able to seize its recommendations. It enshrined in law the requirement for transparency of patronage that I mentioned a few moments ago.
Today, our knowledge of how businesses use this tax system is too imperfect. It is not up to the financial stakes involved.
The information mission on cultural patronage of the Senate Committee on Culture, Education and Communication reminded us that this lack of data is problematic. In this regard, I would like to greet Maryvonne BLONDIN, who chaired this mission – and who will be present this afternoon – and Alain SCHMITZ – the rapporteur – who will also take part in these sponsorship meetings and whose work is remarkable.
The creation of a declaration obligation, adopted by the Assembly, will fill this gap. It will allow the State to better understand the institutions and organizations receiving donations.
To measure their impact for each sector helped. Finally, to build a real sponsorship evaluation tool, which will be useful to us all.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let’s not put an end to the schemes that work! For the past 15 years, the corporate philanthropy tax system has proven its relevance.
It has enabled more than 60,000 companies to get involved, to invest, to join public policies in all fields of public interest. It makes our culture stronger.
I am deeply committed to it. And I will always be vigilant to protect it.
This 15th anniversary of the AILLAGON law marks a privileged opportunity for meetings, exchanges and sharing between the cultural sphere and the private sector.
I would like to thank the speakers of this symposium – parliamentarians, representatives of small and large businesses, individual patrons, heads of foundations and associations, departmental partners, cultural and professional sponsors – who agreed to share their experiences and reflections with us today.
Very nice day to all.