Macron is metavers

As soon as he was re-elected, the French president relaunched restitution, new public commissions for young artists and the extension of the passport culture to all children, as well as a “European metavers”. But relations with Saudi Arabia are embarrassing


Culture was the biggest absence in the French presidential campaign in April, engulfed by the high cost of living and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It has often been limited to a few lines in the candidates’ schedules. In Emmanuel Macrons, re-elected for five years on April 24, in the “Culture” section, there are three initiatives: new public contracts to support new artists, investments to create a European metavers, proposing virtual reality experiences in museums and historical heritage , and the extension of the «Passport Culture».

The world of culture was disappointed with the exclusion of left-wing candidates in the first round of presidential elections (the left-wing radical Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who came in third, proposed, among other things, bringing the annual culture budget to 1% of GDP.) he was nevertheless reassured by Macron’s re-election, which enabled him to escape the most dreaded arrival on the Elysée, Marine Le Pen’s extreme right.

But much is expected of the newly elected president and his new culture minister, Rima Abdul-Malak, who was appointed to the new government team on 20 May. Franco-Lebanese, 43, Abdul-Malak was close to the Socialist Party before becoming Macron’s cultural adviser in 2019 (replacing Claudia Ferrazzi).

Youth and restorations
The health crisis also had a major impact on Macron’s policies. Museums and cultural sites were closed for almost a year between the closures, between 2020 and 2021. Rima Abdul-Malak worked in the shadows with former Minister Roselyne Bachelot to define support measures for a sector in serious crisis. The budget for culture has increased: + 13% in 5 years. For 2022, it is 4.08 billion euros compared to 3.8 billion in 2021.

Culture, and in particular the most affected sectors of live entertainment and cinema, have benefited from the “cost-what” cost policy that Macron has wanted: Since the beginning of the pandemic, the government declares it has invested a further 13, EUR 6 billion as part of the relaunch plan (in addition to the ordinary annual budget), of which EUR 1 billion to the historical heritage and 909 million. in support of artists. Macron had then announced a public procurement plan to help artists, confirmed in the schedule for the new mandate.

The introduction of the pass culture, inspired by the Renzi government’s Bonus Cultura, was the most important cultural site for Macron’s first term. After two years of testing and delays for Covid-19, the device was introduced to 18-year-olds in 2021 and expanded in January to the 15-17 age group. Today, it affects 1.6 million young people. The goal now is to extend it to all young people so that they can spend € 300 over 24 months on cultural offerings, from shows to theater, to books and comics.

For 2022, the estimated expenditure is 199 million euros. From the beginning, the device has been heavily criticized: its opponents consider it a pure consumer tool. The second, quite popular initiative, was the 2018 introduction of the Loto du Patrimoine, a version of the “lottery”, which has made it possible to raise 182 million euros so far for the restoration of 645 monuments in danger (156 construction sites have been completed, they others are in progress). 18 locations have been selected for the 2022 edition.Rima Abdul-Malak, new Minister of Culture in the French Government © DRPostcolonial refunds and Saudi agreements
Internationally, in 2018, Macron launched a laborious process of returning African works of art looted at the time of colonization, which in late 2021 resulted in the repatriation to Benin of the “Behanzin treasure”, 26 precious objects. which belonged to the Musée du quai Branly and was recently exhibited for the first time at the Palais de la Marina in Cotonou, the official residence of the President of the Republic of Benin. France has also committed itself to financing the construction of the future Abomey Museum (the ancient capital of the Dahomey Kingdom, founded in 1625 and falling with the French occupation in the late 19th century; its royal palaces are Unesco Heritage, Oath) who will welcome the works.

The law allowing the return of 15 works from French museums to the heirs of Jewish families from which they had been stolen by the Nazis was then passed, including “Roses Under the Trees”, the only canvas by Gustav Klimt in the Musée d’Orsay. Much discussed is the close partnership with Saudi Arabia on the creation of a museum complex designed by Jean Nouvel on the archaeological site of Al-Ula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, at the heart of the Gulf country’s tourism development project.

A collaboration, similar to that previously set for the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which could provide a fortune but which bothers Paris because of its proximity to Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, which systematically violates human rights and whose implication in the murder of a journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on October 2, 2018 at the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul, was confirmed.

Other projects launched in the last five years include the creation of the Cité Internationale de la Langue Française, which will open in the autumn at Villers-Cotterêt Castle in the Hauts-de-France region (a construction site worth 185 million), and the preservation of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, which opens in Amiens (project estimated at 90 million euros).

But the details of the European metaverse project announced by Macron are not yet known without further details. The president has made it known that he wants to free France and Europe from American and Chinese technology companies by developing European technologies. He envisions the creation of a “dematerialized” museum of French history and intends to encourage the creation of the NFT, digital copies of the works on display in French museums.

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