There was a crowd, Monday January 29 at 7 p.m., in the grand salon of the Palais de la Porte Dorée, designed for the International Colonial Exhibition of 1931. Rachida Dati's first wishes to the world of culture attracted more than 1,000 people and it was said, within the ranks, that nearly 150 journalists had been accredited – a fanciful figure, but which shows the extent to which the Minister of Culture is interested. Not only because everyone knows that she was appointed by Emmanuel Macron, whose name she cited whenever possible in her speech, to better inscribe her action in the wake of the Élysée. But also because this personality drains an ability to carry the iron and throw good words.
For this first, the minister chose to speak right next to the National Immigration Museum, which recounts a long history from which Rachida Dati comes. In the introduction, the director of the place, Constance Rivière, said that young Rachida had written to Tewfik Farès, producer of Mosaïques (a show about and for immigrants broadcast between 1977 and 1987 on FR3). In the letter, she said she wanted to work with him. Fate decided otherwise. The minister also admitted to having “forgotten” this letter, sent when she was only 21 years old.
Yesterday, more than immigration and without any allusion to the recently promulgated law, it was rurality that Rachida Dati spoke about. “I wanted to make it the priority at the start of my mission. It made everyone smile who imagined me not crossing the ring road,” declared the resigning boss of the LR group in Paris who does not hide her municipal ambitions.
A report from the General Inspectorate of Cultural Affairs highlights that in rural areas inhabited by 22 million people, there are only 5% of “scenes labeled performing arts”. To those who imagine her focused on the capital, she says, with a smirk: “what have they done for the 22 million French people we are talking about here?”
The subject of the poverty of cultural offerings in rural areas is not new; the former Minister of Culture Françoise Nyssen, herself in the audience, had tried to take up the “challenge”. Rachida Dati intends to take over today. “The challenge is not to create many scenes in rural areas tomorrow. It is rather to see how we can seriously take into account these 22 million French people who do not have the same ease of access to artistic offers,” explained the new minister. Why, she asked, “wouldn’t residents of rural areas be part of the priority audiences?” In the room, full of leaders of public establishments or professional unions, no one seemed opposed to new offers aimed at these French people. But on what budget? some wondered in low voices. “I will be completely mobilized to ensure that your places always have the means to fulfill their purpose and that artistic production remains the beating drum of our cultural model,” wished to reassure Rachida Dati.
While the ban and the backbenches of media executives were there - Delphine Ernotte, boss of France Télévisions, Sybille Veil, of Radio France, Rodolphe Belmer, director of TF1, Bruno Patino, president of Arte...- , the minister also insisted on the role of the media in the “vitality” of culture. “We must also guarantee the diversity of opinions, the diversity of our territories within the media,” she argued, referring to the place of women, diversity, rural and overseas territories. We must make “culture live everywhere, so that everyone can never say, it’s not for me,” she repeated, in unison with the President of the Republic.
After 22 minutes of a speech that was still not very detailed in substance, the minister still promised: “when I leave you, you will not cry for me, you will applaud me!” What followed was a crowd bath, well supervised by a vigorous security service. Local elected officials, including Xavier Bertrand president of Hauts de France, immediately tried to approach him to sell him their ideas on rurality.
Not far away, the minister's teams showed a smile of satisfaction at the end of a successful day. In the afternoon, during the greetings to the staff, her close colleagues had seen the ministry agents - although hardly suspected of sympathy for the right - rushing to take a selfie with her. A few hours earlier, the social conflict underway for more than 100 days at the Center Pompidou had just ended. “That’s politics,” said a close friend. The CGT Culture has since made it known that it disapproves of what it calls “a forceful move”, since only two of the five unions signed the memorandum of understanding with the ministry. This is also rue de Valois.