From the Louvre to the Grand Palais, the influence of Emmanuel Macron behind the nominations

More women, more foreigners, more diversity. During the 2017 presidential campaign, Emmanuel Macron promised to “Professionalize and [d’]open up appointments in the cultural sector, so that they reflect the diversity of society ”. Almost five years later, the Head of State has more or less respected his roadmap, but his explosive methods have also jostled, even weakened, cultural institutions.

As he was committed, Mr. Macron named several women, such as Amélie Simier (Rodin Museum), Régine Hatchondo (National Book Center) or Marie-Christine Labourdette (Fontainebleau castle). He also renewed Laurence Engel (National Library of France) and Catherine Pégard (Palace of Versailles). But it is especially the appointment of Laurence des Cars at the Louvre that marked the spirits. “She also had the best record”, defends the Elysee. According to the 2021 Observatory for Equality between Women and Men in Culture, 68% of national museums are now run by women, compared to 41% in 2016.

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Mr. Macron also opened the door to foreigners, such as the Belgian Chris Dercon (Grand Palais), the German Alexander Neef (Paris Opera) or the Portuguese Tiago Rodrigues (Avignon Festival). “France has always been a land of welcome, foreign talents bring another breath, more European, more oriented towards young people, says an advisor. The French are exported to major museums, it is normal that this is a two-way street. “ Even if it is not always easy to attract the stars. “The procedure was very efficient, very professional … except when it came to housing and health insurance”, explains Chris Dercon with a smile.

Bypass his ministers

The call for diversity will also remain a marker of Mr. Macron’s mandate. By naming Pap Ndiaye (National Museum of the History of Immigration), Emmanuel Kasarhérou (Quai Branly-Jacques-Chirac Museum) or Rachid Ouramdane (National Theater of Dance- Chaillot), “The president chooses careers and talents that contribute to French influence”, explains the Elysee. According to his entourage, Mr. Macron also keeps an eye on nominations in national drama centers, such as that of Nasser Djemaï in Ivry or Fouad Boussouf in Le Havre.

There remains the question of the method. If the appointments have always been an attribute of the Head of State, Mr. Macron has pushed logic to its climax, not hesitating to bypass his ministers of culture, yet supposed to guide his choices. “The president asks for a note of ten pages to the main candidates and receives them face to face, to have a personal exchange, to get to the bottom of the files”, recognizes a loved one. Régine Hatchondo has not forgotten her exchange of nearly an hour with the president. “It was not a courtesy meeting and at no time did I feel that the gambles were made. Emmanuel Macron was precise in his questions, and very attentive to the answers “, she confides.

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