Young people in France are being granted a golden opportunity to access more music, theatre, and arts in generations – and it's all for free.
The government's Culture Pass – designed to promote "knowledge of and access to cultural offerings" - is a bold new initiative introduced earlier this year to all 18-year-olds across the country, giving them €300 to spend on art, music, theatre, and more.
Teens that might have been deprived from their first concert, art show, or forced to take a break from dance lessons over the pandemic now have the a chance to get back into their hobbies, or develop new ones.
Now, the benefits are being extended to teens aged 15-17 from next year due to its popularity.
In fact, over €59 million has been spent on museums, theatres, books, and more in 2021.
Here's everything you need to know about the Culture Pass:
Who is eligible for the Culture Pass?
The pass offers €300 to 18-year-olds across the country that they are free to spend on a number of items and activities over a period of two years.
It isn't means tested (meaning it benefits anybody that fits the age criteria, regardless of income) and and 800,000 young people have already benefitted from it this year.
Luckily, 18-year-olds who do not have French nationality but have lived in France for over a year are also eligible for the Culture pass.
Right now, teens that are yet to turn 18 can register their date of birth and be notified of their access to the pass when their 18th birthday arrives.
This will change in January 2022, when younger adolescents are included in the deal. 15-17 year olds will be granted funds to spend on cultural interests in smaller chunks – €20 the year they turn 15, €30 the year they turn 16 and 17, then the full €300 for entering adulthood.
In theory, 15-year-olds living in France right now will eventually have access to €380 worth of funding from the government to spend on their hobbies.
The pass is also set to benefit schools in due course – €45 million is being put aside next year so classes of children can be funded to go on trips that embracing arts and culture.
Is this because of COVID?
Unlike Spain's own culture voucher, the pass has very little to do with COVID-19.
President Macron first made a pledge to provide younger people with wider access to France's culture during his campaign in 2017.
Though it appears to have come at the right time for the thousands of museums, libraries, music, and sporting venues that suffered as a result of the pandemic.
"Whether you are a cinema, museum, novels, manga, video games, theatre, rap, metal, all of this at the same time, we have created the Culture Pass for you," he explained in a video shared on his TikTok account, where he has amassed 2.8 million followers since joining in July 2020.
What can you buy with it?
The offerings of the Culture Pass are pretty impressive.
What's on offer falls into three categories: physical goods, digital goods, and artistic/cultural outings and activities.
Physical goods include: musical instruments, fine art materials, vinyl records, books, CDs, and DVDs.
Digital goods include: streaming services (video and music), online news subscriptions, video games.
Artistic/cultural outings and activities include: Visits to sports events, theatres, cinemas, festivals, museums, concerts etc), workshops and classes in creative pursuits (dance, drawing, photography), and conventions that allow you to meet with other creatives.
There is, however, a ceiling of €100 placed on digital goods, like streaming subscriptions, video games, eBooks, in order to ensure young people are investing the money in real-world experiences.
Another important stipulation – a core aspect of the Culture Pass is to encourage young people in France to bond over their shared interests, so delivering any of the physical goods is not permitted.
If you're unable to find the instrument, collectible, piece of art etc. nearby, you can write to the organisers of the Culture Pass, who will help you to source what you need.
The biggest sectors to benefit from it during trials in 2019-20 were books and music.
Over 40 per cent of 18-year-olds chose to spend their voucher on instruments, music streaming, and literature as venue closures meant there was little on offer as far as in-person experiences were concerned.
How do you use the Culture Pass?
The Culture Pass is available via website or app, which then oversees what you've spent so and what you could spend the voucher on next.
Its interface is pretty simple to use, and includes bonus elements like a 'favourites' section for saving experiences and items you're interested in buying, and multi-offers that can be accessed between yourself and a friend who also has the app.
You'll need to fill out a registration form in order to do this – it's pretty straightforward, requiring just a few details and proof of identification before you receive your login.
To register and download the Culture Pass, head here.