A “brutal” and “senseless” decision. Monday October 23, Roberto Ciurleo, co-producer of the show “Bernadette de Lourdes”, performed since 2019, learned with astonishment in a letter from the Versailles rectorate, which Le Figaro was able to consult, that his musical production was not eligible for the the entire offer covered by the Culture Pass.
Launched nationally in May 2021, the Culture Pass allows young people from sixth grade to purchase, using credit, books, concert tickets, press subscriptions or even music streaming platforms. Two offers are proposed. An individual formula - the young person buys everything they want among the eligible cultural goods - and an “Adage” formula. The latter “allows teachers from public and private establishments under contract to finance artistic and cultural education activities for their classes from fourth to final year”, specifies the site of the system.
The show, which recounts the Marian apparitions to the young Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879), is eligible for the first offer but not for the second. Two reasons are given by the members of the commission - agents of the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (Drac) and the Versailles rectorate - which decides whether or not eligibility is granted. First, according to the members of the commission, the show does not offer any particular educational dimension. “When we receive classes, we do masterclasses in addition to the show,” defends producer Roberto Ciurleo.
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The other reason raises more questions. “Respect for the Charter of Secularism raises questions,” justifies the rectorate in its missive. Enough to boost the successful co-producer, who has previously produced “Robin Hood” and “The 3 Musketeers”. “Just by stating the title of the show, the members of the commission decided that we were a problem for secularism. Without even visiting us, or asking us any questions... Our show is a historical reconstruction in the form of a police investigation, taken from the reports of the State, the commissioners, the imperial prosecutor and what the clerks were able to observe, explains Roberto Ciurleo. We recount the interrogations that Bernadette underwent. There is no apparition of the virgin in the cave.” The producer specifies that “the director is an atheist, like the authors of the songs”. “It is [the members of the commission] who attack secularism and who are dangerous,” he complains.
The show's production teams appealed to the Ministry of Education. “But by the time an answer is given, the French tour which begins in November and ends in June 2024 will be over,” sighs the producer. In the meantime, “clarifications” will be requested from the said commission, Le Figaro learned from a source close to the matter. But if the argument on secularism is no longer accepted, the show will however not be eligible for school offerings, by virtue of the first argument. The risk, explains this same source, would be to create a call for air to make other shows without educational purposes, such as The Jungle Book, eligible.
Contacted, the Versailles rectorate has, to date, not responded to our requests.