Minister of Culture (France)

Minister of Culture (France)

The Minister of Culture is, in the Government of France, the cabinet member in charge of national museums and monuments; promoting and protecting the arts (visual, plastic, theatrical, musical, dance, architectural, literary, televisual and cinematographic) in France and abroad; and managing the national archives and regional "maisons de culture" (culture centres). The Ministry of Culture is also charged with maintaining the French identity. It is located on Rue Saint-Honoré, one block from both the Louvre and the Palais Royal in Paris.



Deriving from the Italian and Burgundian courts of the Renaissance, the notion that the state had a key role to play in the sponsoring of artistic production and that the arts were linked to national prestige was found in France from at least the 16th century on. During the pre-revolutionary period, these ideas are apparent in such things as the creation of the Académie française, the Académie de peinture et de sculpture and other state-sponsored institutions of artistic production, and through the cultural policies of Louis XIV's minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert.

The modern post of Minister of Culture was created by Charles de Gaulle in 1959 and the first Minister was the writer André Malraux. Malraux was responsible for realizing the goals of the "droit à la culture" ("the right to culture") -- an idea which had been incorporated in the French constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) -- by democratizing access to culture, while also achieving the Gaullist aim of elevating the "grandeur" ("greatness") of post-war France. To this end, he created numerous regional cultural centres throughout France and actively sponsored the arts. Malraux's artistic tastes included the modern arts and the avant-garde, but on the whole he remained conservative.

Under president François Mitterrand the Minister of Culture was Jack Lang who showed himself to be far more open to popular cultural production, including jazz, rock and roll, rap music, graffiti art ("tagging"), cartoons, comic books, fashion and food. His famous phrase "économie et culture, même combat" ("economy and culture: it's the same fight") is representative of his commitment to cultural democracy and to active national sponsorship and participation in cultural production. In addition to the creation of the Fête de la Musique and overseeing the French bicentennial (1989), he was in charge of the massive architectural program of the Mitterrand years (the so-called "Grands Travaux" or "Great Works" like the Bibliothèque nationale, the new Louvre, the Institut du Monde Arabe, the Musée d'Orsay, the Opéra-Bastille, the "Grande Arche" of La Défense (the Parisian business quarter) and the City of Science and Music in La Villette).

The Ministry of Jacques Toubon was notable for a number of laws (the "Toubon Laws") enacted for the preservation of the French language, both in advertisements (all ads must include a French translation of foreign words) and on the radio (40% of songs on French radio stations must be in French), ostensibly in reaction to the presence of English.

The current minister is Frédéric Mitterrand, who faced calls to resign in October 2009 over alleged accounts of child-sex tourism in his book The Bad Life.[1] Mitterrand defends filmmaker Roman Polanski's sexual relations with a thirteen-year-old girl calling his arrest, "Horrifying".[2]

Ministers of Culture

For a complete list see [1].

Names of the Ministry of Culture

Since the French constitution does not identify specific ministers (merely speaking of "the minister in charge of" this or that), each government may label each ministry as they wish, or even have a broader ministry in charge of several governmental sectors. Hence, the ministry has gone through a number of different names:

  • 1959 Ministère des Affaires culturelles
  • 1974 Ministère des Affaires culturelles et de l’Environnement
  • 1974 Secrétariat d’État à la Culture
  • 1976 Ministère de la Culture et de l’Environnement
  • 1978 Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication
  • 1981 Ministère de la Culture
  • 1986 Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication
  • 1988 Ministère de la Culture, de la Communication, des Grands Travaux et du Bicentenaire
  • 1991 Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication
  • 1992 Ministère de l’Éducation nationale et de la Culture
  • 1993 Ministère de la Culture et de la Francophonie
  • 1995 Ministère de la Culture
  • 1997 Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication


Central administration

The Ministry of Culture is made up of a variety of internal divisions, including:

  • Direction de l'administration générale (DAG)
  • Direction de l'architecture et du patrimoine (DAPA) - in charge of national monuments
  • Direction des archives de France (DAF) - in charge of the National Archives
  • Direction du livre et de la lecture (DLL) - in charge of French literature and the book trade
  • Direction de la musique, de la danse, du théâtre et des spectacles (DMDTS) - in charge of music, dance and theater
  • Direction des Musées de France (DMF) - in charge of the National museums

The Ministry also has access to the division :

  • Direction du développement des médias (DDM) in charge of developing and expanding the French media (although French public television is run through the public-service company France Télévisions).

The Ministry also runs three "delegations" (administrative boards) :

  • Délégation aux arts plastiques (DAP) - in charge of the visual and sculptural arts.
  • Délégation au développement et aux affaires internationales (DDAI) - in charge of international affairs and French art
  • Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France (DGLFLF) - in charge of the French language and languages of France.

Finally, the Ministry shares in the management of the National Centre of Cinema (Centre national de la cinématographie), a public institution (go to their link here).

The Alliance française is run by the Minister of Foreign Affairs (France).

For more on the organization of the Ministry, see Ministry of Culture.

Other services

On the national level, the Ministry also runs:

  • Regional Cultural Affairs (Direction régionale des affaires culturelles - DRAC)
  • Départemental Architecture and Monuments (Services départementaux de l'architecture et du patrimoine - SDAP)
  • Départemental Archives under the direction of the Conseil Général of each département.
  • Centre National de la Danse, institution for the study and preservation of dance [2]

Cultural activities

The Ministry of Culture is responsible for, or a major sponsor of, a number of annual cultural activities, including:

Further reading

  • Nancy Marmer, "The New Culture: France '82," Art in America, December 1982, pp. 115–123, 181-189.

See also

  • Établissement public du château, du musée et du domaine national de Versailles


External links

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