French culture minister says some public art schools are 'in crisis' and must be shut down

French Culture Minister Rachida Dati arrives to attend the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee on 12 January 2024.
French Culture Minister Rachida Dati arrives to attend the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee on 12 January 2024. Copyright Michel Euler/AP Photo
By Anca Ulea
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French Culture Minister Rachida Dati said certain public art schools are “in a crisis situation” and may need to be shut down. “They no longer have the means to offer a quality environment.”

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France’s Culture Minister Rachida Dati has suggested closing some public art schools that are “in a situation of crisis.”

“We need to put an end to these shoestring policies, because ultimately it doesn’t solve the foundational problem, and it means public funds very poorly spent,” she said in a speech before the National Assembly on Tuesday.

“I want high-performing schools, which have the same chances of success, and the same openness to all. If we must shut down certain schools, because today they no longer have the means to offer a quality environment, perhaps that will be the case.”

France has 99 public higher learning institutions dedicated to culture and the arts, including 43 visual arts schools. The Culture Ministry directly manages 10 of the country’s visual arts schools, while the 33 others are run regionally.

Aid for the arts

Dati admitted that there are official procedures that must be followed, and that the Culture Ministry does not have the unilateral power to shut schools.

“There are evaluation bodies to deal with this, the minister doesn’t decide on this matter,” she clarified. “We’re in the process of making a precise roadmap in order to propose a higher learning strategy that’s not only coherent but ambitious.”

Last March, Dati’s predecessor, Rima Abdul Malak, approved an urgent aid package for 33 regional higher arts schools, which comprise a total of 8400 students.

“Some of these art schools, especially regional schools, are in a situation of crisis, despite the government’s firm commitment (to them),” Dati said.

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