In Paris, the Town Hall takes control of threatened cultural places


Promise kept. During the long municipal campaign, the team of outgoing socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo assured that, in the event of re-election, she would no longer hesitate to take control of certain threatened cultural places, in order to protect them. The ballot barely passed, two operations of this type have just been launched to preserve small rooms steeped in history, the Modern Parisian Lavoir (18e arrondissement) and La Flèche d’or (20e).

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Others should follow. Especially since the health crisis, very violent for the cultural sector, risks endangering already fragile places, and inciting the owners of certain buildings to give up their property to take advantage of the record prices of Parisian real estate. . “We will probably not be able to access all the requests, but the period lends itself to this type of action”, confirms Carine Rolland, the new assistant responsible for culture.

In the agreement reached between the two rounds between the various components of the majority, in particular the socialists and the ecologists, a line of 50 million euros has been foreseen for the acquisitions of independent cultural places over the next six years. After the two inaugural operations, “The next one could concern the La Clef cinema”, in the 5e district, slips Frédéric Hocquard, of Génération.s, now tourism assistant after having followed several of these files.

“A motive of general interest”

La Clef, an old hall in the Latin Quarter, is typical of the sites that the pink-red-green majority in power in Paris are planning to help. Opened in 1969, in full post-68 boiling, the arthouse cinema was sold in 1981 to the works council of the Savings Bank. For decades, it has hosted screenings, meetings and debates. Until April 2018 when the owner announced the last session.

Read also The last screening of La Clef cinema, in Paris

Since then, however, La Clef has not disappeared. Relentless moviegoers illegally occupy the place and continue to screen films every day. Including, during confinement, on the walls of the neighborhood. “Law matters little when it comes to the survival of a cinema, the one and last associative cinema in Paris! “, these activists plead.

In addition to its cost, the City’s purchase of private cultural venues poses a fundamental problem: is it better placed than another owner to take care of it?

Threatened with deportation, condemned by the courts to a 4,000 euro fine and 350 euro penalty per day, they appealed. The hearing is scheduled for September 21. “Until then, we are preparing for an explosive return to school, by inviting great filmmakers”, promises Derek Woolfenden, the animator of this cultural rebellion. The association has obtained an attentive ear at the town hall. It remains to find common ground with the owner, a technical solution (purchase by the Town Hall, creation of a cooperative society, preemption …), and a precise cultural project. Otherwise, the opposition risks howling.

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