A view of the Seine in Paris.

Paris Announces $16.5 Million Relief Fund for Culture

Christophe Girard, Paris’s deputy mayor for culture, has pledged a $16.5 million relief plan for the city’s cultural sector, reports Le Parisien. The bailout includes $12.5 million for the city’s public theaters, art and cultural centers, and concert halls, as well as $1.3 million for private orchestra and concert halls and live show venues. A $54,500 fund is allocated for playwrights and composers. The cinema sector is also receiving support, with a $1.5 million grant, including $327,000 for independent cinemas and $109,000 for the creation of short films. “It’s more than a boost,” said Girard. “It is a historic gesture at a time of unusual crisis for Paris to recall that it is the capital of cultural exception.”

With more than 28,000 fatalities, France has suffered one of the highest rates of Covid-19 deaths in Europe and the fourth-highest death toll in the world, behind the US, Britain, and Italy. Some social distancing restrictions introduced in mid-March were eased in May, with primary schools and certain businesses reopening, including some bookstores and art galleries. In her recent “Letter from Paris” for Artforum, Mara Hoberman wrote of the reopening art scene’s need for more support following a prediction that one-third of Parisian galleries could close permanently due to the pandemic. “By exposing the delicate interconnectedness of the art world ecosystem, the crisis has fostered a sense of solidarity between Parisian art dealers—many of whom have turned to each other for resources and support.”

This week, the country permitted some residents to leave their homes without release forms, though restrictions on distances of more than sixty-two miles are still in place. The city will also dedicate $435,000 to develop a robust arts program for “August Culture Month” and will launch a call in early June for musicians, dancers, acrobats, and other artists. The mayor hopes to open seven of the fourteen smaller municipal museums by June 16, and libraries at some point in June or July. Cafes, restaurants, and bars will remain closed until at least the end of May. “August will be the month of celebration of art and beauty in Paris,” Girard said.