Cutting regional subsidies: culture in the artistic blur

Announced without notice by the Vice-President in charge of Culture, Sophie Rotkopf, to our colleagues at Development on April 22, the budget cut in the world of culture reached 2.5 million euros for the Lyon metropolis alone. At the time, the sudden announcement of this decline shook the culture players, leaving them uncertain about their future.

It also took for some elected environmentalists the appearance of a political defiance. The anger is strong, expressed through an open letter signed by more than 250 Lyon cultural actors and several gatherings in front of the regional hotel in the Confluence district (Lyon 2e).

Preserve the cultural offering at all costs

Budget cuts have already been announced “immediate effect”, most cultural establishments have already made their program for the current year. Two solutions offer themselves to them: to change down a programming that has already been announced or to keep it at the cost of a certain lack.

Also read Tribune de Lyon: Region. Cuts to the culture budget with immediate effect

This is the second option chosen by the New Generation Theater of Vaise (TNG, Lyon 9e), whose cash hole is now equal to the amount of regional decline, ie 15%. “Add to this inflation and the various increases inherent in the performing arts, such as freight for transporting sets”explained Joris Mathieu, director of the establishment.

The accounting statement is the same on the side of the area of ​​artistic creation of Les Subs (Lyon 1eh). “The sudden nature of these declines forced us to dig into the reserves. However, it is in the long term that this sediment will change our forecasts”said the patron of the former convent, Stéphane Malftettes.

At the Théâtre de La Renaissance d’Oullins, Gérard Lecointe emphasizes the passing of abnegation by various actors in the cultural sector to maintain the public: “In the 2022 fiscal year, I can’t bring myself to cancel anything or fire, and I think everyone is in the same situation. We believe too much in our profession, everyone wants to save the theater soldier. Without this passion that binds the world of culture, it is worse. »

2023 placed under the sign of uncertainty

“The problem is that a cultural program is not decided in a week. The cuts were made when the program was already established this year. We kept it by accepting the deficit, but for next year, we are in the dark.we breathe on the side of the National Popular Theater of Villeurbanne, which received a cut of 150,000 euros, or almost 30% of its previous subsidy.

Same story with Tiago Guedes, who arrived in May at the head of the House and the Dance Biennale, whose joint budget will be reduced by almost 433,000 euros if the reduction is renewed in 2023. The latter is limited at the moment to a hole of 180,000 euros for his first season at the Maison de la danse, which constitutes one of the most significant reductions in Lyon (-47%).

“Now we are working with a pessimistic temporary budget by rethinking our project for the Chamber as for the Biennale. This reduction has to be distributed among all the posts to best maintain the programming. We have to make the Region understand that our project will not be the same if these cuts are maintained., he pressed. Which regional authority is nevertheless a member of the jury that chose him to take the head of the institution, following Dominique Hervieu.

Also read Tribune de Lyon: Lyon 8th. Tiago Guedes is the new director of the Maison de la Danse

In the hollow, it is the shadow of the layoffs that hovers. In TNG, Joris Mathieu also created a scenario with several entries. “We have no guarantee that the amount of aid will return to what it was before in 2021, but we are choosing to build our budgets with an equivalent subsidy. We assume that it will return to normal, because it has always been presented to us as an extraordinary decrease. We cannot agree to ratify this reduction, otherwise we will be forced to lay off., he explained, perplexed by the ability of structures to adapt without “social breakdown”. An observation shared by Stéphane Malftettes, director of Subs. “From 2023, we will reduce our support for creation by 40%. We have to reduce the schedule, because I will not “recalibrate” the team overnight”he admitted, referring to a situation of “adventure” allowed.

“Spend your time talking about money”

To solve this difficult financial conundrum, some actors, eager to continue their art, are now turning to private funds. This is exactly the case of Subs, which recently established a collaboration with the Hermès Foundation.

A way to reverse the balance and avoid a precariousness possibly caused by a system of calls for tenders intended to replace, in part, the old annual subsidies. A change that many institutions fear because of its lack of sustainability, important for the development of a cultural program.

However, the question of the growing share of the private sector within a cultural sector is increasingly subject to the doubts of public funding. “With the accumulation of crises, pandemics, inflation, energy, we spend our time talking about money, more than artistic projects”regrets Stéphane Malftettes.

A counterproductive rebalancing?

As for the Region, Sophie Rotkopf would like to remind you “The culture budget voted in 2022 has not experienced any cuts and its 62 million euros will still be protected”before justifying his rebalancing program: “A solidarity effort has been requested from a number of cultural structures, to support organizations threatened by the health crisis. The goal is to move from “rental” subsidies to project financing and focus on rural area. Until now, cultural institutions in large metropolitan areas have obtained almost 60% of the budget allocations. Consequently, this rebalancing will make it possible, in the long term, to deploy 62 million euros, which was first warned in the direction of rural areas. »

Also read Tribune de Lyon: 180° turn for the Tony Garnier Urban Museum, which keeps all its regional subsidies

However, despite the reduction of the cultural offer, it is also a question of restricting the territory of action of certain structures. Almost ironically, the rebalancing desired by Laurent Wauquiez thus turns his back on the schools… in his own region. “A large part of our DNA remains artistic and cultural education for high school classes, and we had to reduce our scope of action. In some projects, we became 20 from 80 classes throughout the region, only in the metropolis of Lyon. The first victims of the cuts are schools outside metropolitan France,” alert Léa Danilewsky at Villa Gillet. “Next year, instead of supporting 40 regional artists, we will only be able to support 24”abundant in Stéphane Malftettes.

Disagreement with the Ministry

In June, the Culture Assistant of the City of Lyon, Nathalie Perrin-Gilbert, informed us that the Region will only support artistic and cultural education projects in high schools if they are linked to “great classics “. .

Also read Tribune de Lyon: Minister of Culture Rima Abdul-Malak visiting Lyon

Directors of establishments have to review all their projects three months before the start of the school year. A French teacher from Savoy testified: “This year, it is particularly complicated for cultural projects. Now we must explain to the students that they will not meet an author. This contradicts what we are trying to put in place. »

Passing through Lyon at the end of September, the Minister of Culture Rima Abdul-Malak expressed her disapproval of the decision of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region. He said afterwards Grandstand of Lyon asked to meet with Laurent Wauquiez in October. If the meeting took place, “The question of Lyon subsidies is not necessarily addressed, there are other topics”, said a source familiar with the matter. Back to soft focus.

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