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French museum directors ordered to keep their expenses in check

Culture ministry cracks down after media reports that the Centre Pompidou’s former general director spent tens of thousands of euros on taxis

The spending habits of the directors of France’s national cultural institutions are under close watch after the newspaper L’Express reported that Agnès Saal spent €400,000 on taxis during her tenure as the general director of the Centre Pompidou from 2007-14. Le Figaro, meanwhile, says a source puts the sum at “less than €90,000 for the seven years” she spent at the museum. An investigation by the public prosecutor is ongoing.

Saal’s exorbitant transportation spending has already been the topic of scrutiny this year; she resigned from her position as the director of the Institut National de l’Audovisuel (National Audovisual Insitute) in April after it was revealed that she had spent over €40,000 on taxis in ten months—including €6,700 spent by her son on her account at the taxi company G7, which she has since returned—despite having a company car and driver.

As reported in our sister paper Le Journal des Arts, an official bulletin “Instruction for the control and transparency of executive spending” was sent by the Ministry of Culture on Wednesday, 24 June to the 81 public establishments under its wing, which include major national museums, theatres and art schools. Each institution must set up a system to track directors’ expenses at least quarterly, and a framework for spending must be written and voted on by administrative boards by the end of the year.