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Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes: Laurent Wauquiez would have eliminated 4 million euros in subsidies to cultural actors

The opposition to the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regional council denounced on Wednesday May 25 the abolition of four million euros in subsidies to 140 cultural actors, a change of course that the camp of President LR Laurent Wauquiez “assumes” by evoking ” reorientations”. According to an estimate by the environmental opposition to the region, at least 3.9 million euros were “redirected” in 2022, a figure which could not be confirmed with the region.

Before a vote by the Regional Permanent Commission, which endorsed a large part of these “reorientations” on Wednesday, around sixty cultural actors had expressed in an open letter their “deep concern” at the budgetary choices adopted “without preparation or dialogue “, pointing to an “unacceptable method”. In a press release, the region chaired by LR Laurent Wauquiez indicated “assuming” these arbitrations, according to it in particular directed towards “territories furthest from the cultural offer”, while “60% of the regional cultural budget was oriented towards regional cities and large institutions”.

Sophie Rotkopf, vice-president of the Regional Council in charge of culture, told AFP that “some reorientations are temporary, while others are more permanent, like for the Lyon Opera”, which loses for example 500,000 euros , i.e. 18% of its endowments. “It is logical that cities and large institutions have more subsidies but not in these proportions”, she assures, arguing also that “the budget dedicated to culture has not moved”, at 61, 9 million euros.

A rebalancing

In addition to the new “budgetary guidelines” for the 2022 budget, the region is setting up a “Covid fund” for structures weakened by the health crisis, initially endowed with 500,000 euros, and will develop a new system of calls for projects, which will be presented in the fall. The rebalancing voted on Wednesday finances 18 local players for a total of 207,300 euros, i.e. with the “Covid fund” around 17% of the total subsidies eliminated.

In Lyon, the most significant drops affect the Biennial of Contemporary Art, which is due to open in September (-253,000 euros, or -34%), the Villa Gillet, which manages literary programs (-350,000 euros, or – 100%), the Maison de la Danse (-180,000 euros, i.e. -47%), or the cultural place of “Subsistances”, (-150,000 euros, i.e. -53%).

The environmentalist mayor of Lyon Grégory Doucet protested against these “brutal” cuts representing, according to him, nearly 2 million euros for his city alone, criticizing an “executive who behaves like the far right” towards artists. In response, Laurent Wauquiez denounced the “totally caricatural posture” of the elected green, according to him “always in extremism and in ideology”. The only concession, the Region reversed its decision to remove all of its subsidy (35,000 euros) to the Tony Garnier museum. This museum dedicated to architecture and social housing had announced its imminent closure, after having received an official letter informing it of this cut.

Grenoble and Lyon punished?

In Grenoble, another ecological town hall, the reductions affect more than half of the cultural actors subsidized by the region, with a budget reduced from 1.88 to 1.34 million euros between 2021 and 2022. The Orchestra of chamber (-100,000 euros, i.e. -100%) or the Maison de la Culture (-120,000 euros, i.e. -25.5%). “We understood that Grenoble and Lyon will be punished throughout the mandate for having voted environmentalist in the municipal elections, there is no doubt that there is a political bias”, castigated Wednesday Enzo Poultreniez, secretary general of the environmental group at the region.

Among the major projects carried out by Laurent Wauquiez since his election as head of the region in 2016, there is in particular the tourist development of the Gergovie site to “pay homage to Gallic civilization” or the renovation of the Museum of Fabrics in Lyon, dedicated to the local textile tradition. The mayor of Lyon, for his part, attributes to culture “a key role in the development of imaginations for a successful ecological transition”. Its municipality organizes in July a new festival “Between Rhône and Saône” intended to celebrate biodiversity and water.

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