French organisations create artists' funds and support for summer festivals

The culture ministry and southwest region provides grants for projects, while Paris-based collector Antoine de Galbert appeals to private donors through his foundation

The Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MÉCA

The Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MÉCA

The Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MÉCA in Bordeaux, a regional art centre in southwest France, has launched an open call for projects, inviting artists to reflect on the “emergency situation” of the Covid-19 health crisis. Twenty winners will each receive a grant of €2,000 to develop their work.

“We wanted to react to this very complicated period for artists, many of whom are lacking financial resources because there are no more sales in galleries and they can't organise exhibitions or be invited to give conferences or workshops,” the museum’s director Claire Jacquet says.

The initiative is financed by France’s culture ministry and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine administration, and to be eligible, artists must have a link to the region, either through birth, education or residency. Artists are invited to send an outline of a project—it can be “a drawing, a film, photography, sculpture or a text”—reflecting on the pandemic and the confinement many are experiencing, by 19 April. Frac intends to announce the winners by the end of April “and launch funds quickly as we want the projects to happen fast”, Jacquet adds.

“Until now [during the health crisis], we’ve been listening a lot to intellectuals, journalists, scientists and politicians but not artists, and the voice of artists should count as well after this coronavirus period,” Jacquet says. “They must help us look beyond concrete issues and help us understand why we're here [in this situation] and reflect upon how values, themes and ways of thinking aren't the same as before.”

France's culture ministry has also just launched a “support unit” to help the organisers of festivals due to take place around the country this year which are at risk of cancellation or postponement. The country’s major photography event Les Rencontres d'Arles, for example, is still scheduled to take place from 29 June to 20 September, but is looking for a new artistic director and cancelled a March press conference, while Olivier Py, the director of the annual Festival d'Avignon is “worried but not completely pessimistic” about the performing arts festival taking place in July as planned.

Meanwhile, the Fondation Antoine de Galbert in Paris, established by the collector Antoine de Galbert, who also founded the former La Maison Rouge art centre near Bastille, is launching a support fund for artists.

“One can estimate that 90% of [artists] don't have galleries and few collectors. Many of them were already living in a certain confinement before the epidemic,” Galbert writes in a newsletter announcement sent out today. He is urging patrons to send donations so that his foundation, which is recognised as a “public utility”, can support “cultural associations and artist collectives”. Donors will receive a tax reduction certificate for their gifts.