Macron has insisted that there will be no distinction made between “high” and “low” cultural events and that there is no place for cultural snobbery. The pass is designed to be used for dance classes, trips to the theater, music lessons, books, and artistic workshops. Spending on the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Spotify is allowed, but the amount will be limited.
Spending of the gift will be monitored by the app accompanying the program. The app performs dual functions, however, and will also be used to advertise local events in a ‘Tinder-esque’ fashion. Users will be able to ‘swipe right’ on nearby cultural events that they are interested in.
Yet, as you’d expect from a political program, the culture pass proposal is not without controversy. Concerns have been raised that the demography trialling the pass evidences a ‘thinly veiled’ attempt to encourage immigrant populations to adopt a more ‘French’ understanding of culture. Critics have also cited the issues with a similar program in Italy, where recipients have undermined the cultural benefits of the program by making purchases that don’t relate strictly to culture.
Nonetheless, Macron and the program’s supporters hope that the measures put in place will encourage investment in the arts. It is currently being trialled across 5 locales and is expected to be rolled out across a number of other locations for further testing in the coming months. With so much to potential gain from such a scheme, we’ll be looking forward to its national launch in spring 2019.