Let Us Be Vigilant

Philippe Thanh 16/03/2017

The time of cultivated public policy-makers, dedicated to ensuring that education and culture remain pillars of French society, is long gone. Some of our politicians happily harbour a love of music, and sometimes even practice it as enlightened amateurs, but they tend to conceal this shameful - elitist passion! - from the eyes of the media and the public.

However, most these policy-makers are only concerned with cut-backs anywhere and everywhere, particularly at the expense of classical culture, which they consider necessarily elitist.

There have been massive cuts made by the state and local authorities in subsidies for festivals, orchestras and operas. In any case, the public manna is now only granted in exchange for interventions of these festivals, orchestras and theatres in "zones", schools, hospitals, retirement homes, prisons...

And we end up with the perverse result that we no longer really finance an orchestra so that it can produce beautiful music in the right conditions, but rather to oblige it to produce activities with a purely social vocation. The public authorities have thus succeeded in requiring musicians to compensate for their own political failures.

Similarly, we have seen the public financing of conservatories challenged and then ultimately restored, but under the condition of a "paradigm shift", namely that these establishments provide both specialized education - elitist! - and access to the music for the greater number (which they have already been doing for years). But the learning of music necessarily requires effort and perseverance: why isn’t this fact, which is so obvious for sports, so difficult to understand for the arts?

Since the reform of the map of our regions, we have heard many beautiful words from the newly elected, promising an increase in the cultural budget, only to see these engagements collide with harsh reality. Suppression of the Ariam in Ile-de-France, the Transfo in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, threats weighing on others...

The future electoral deadlines don’t incite optimism, the promises of the candidates will be binding, in cultural as elsewhere, only on the part of those who believe them. However, the actors of the music industry have come together to present the candidates with proposals destined to give music its rightful place in public policy. Will they be heard?

More than ever, it is important that musicians, interpreters and teachers remain vigilant and speak with one voice, each at their own level, until they finally make this truth heard: That music brings together and embellishes society, enriches (at least in the figurative sense, but that is already not bad) those who practice it as well as those who listen to it. And that, when all is said and done, society would gain substantial savings in return by supporting it without hesitation.

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