If Francois Hollande wins the French presidency then a major cultural challenge has been set for him. With nearly one in five French voters expressing a preference for a racist party, and the (hopefully) outgoing president making statements which are not out of place at a le Pen rally, France really has to get to grips with its attitude to racism.
Something is clearly wrong. It will mean changes to current practices, in employment, in all sectors. Current policies have clearly failed. A President Hollande will need to mobilise a changed cultural sector to help in the anti-racism programme. Changed? Yes. How open is the cultural sector, from museums, theatres, orchestras, to independent arts organisations and groups to a multi-cultural programme. Audience extension and development. An interesting take on the Musee de Quai Branly for example is here. Personally I loved the architecture but really disliked the approach taken in the exhibits, as did the author.
The report in Germany on the future of museums makes an interesting point. Ignore the headline grabbing comment about closing half the museums and focus on the comment about the need to engage closer with the tax paying public.
In addition, he argues, cultural institutions should be organised differently and [be given] more detailed targets, not only in regard to visitor numbers, but also guidelines about where visitors should come from and what age groups in particular should be attracted to the museums.
This is not only a domestic issue. France’s soft power and cultural attraction is weakened with such a growing vote for the extreme right. And if the right win in the second round?