As it stands today, there are a thousand reasons why the Ministry of Culture should be closed.
Firstly, because in a democracy, culture is the business of everyone, and it is not up to political power to dictate its terms.
Moreover, because we are no longer living in the times of when there were pharaonic projects of kings or previous presidents: a country would not easily understand why a Prince decides to build a new museum or a large library.
Furthermore, because many of the current responsibilities of this ministry can be effectively attributed to other ministries: artistic education would have its place at the Ministry of Education; architecture, cultural heritage, libraries and museums would be under the tutelage of the City.
And other current matters do not necessarily require a government institution to oversee their functions:
After all, certain professions related to literature, theatre, dance, music, cinema, cartoons, video games and contemporary arts are already linked to ad hoc agencies, and one could argue that not much value is added at the ministerial level.
Subsidies that are allocated to existing institutions could also be distributed, based on objective criteria, without the intervention of a ministry; and appointments to important cultural posts could be made by independent commissions whereby an outside point of view would be welcomed.
Even new professions in communication arise from or are connected to specific bodies, and ministerial intervention often only blurs the chain of responsibility: new media outlets need a clearer regulatory and fiscal framework other than a minister of culture and communication.
As for the defence of the French language, it should be divided between the ministry of national education and that of foreign affairs; and the Ministry of Culture has never shone in its desire to take on this task.
One could even argue that culture is the business of all ministries; that there is culture in agriculture (gardens), industry (design), and every other ministerial activity. And even more so because, henceforth, most of the artistic activities are funded by cities, territories, companies, private individuals, and foundations. The State is no longer a determining factor.
So, shall we close this ministry and with it a few billion in spending? Or should we let it survive for decorative purposes only, for the sake of reinforcing the notion that France is still a country of culture?
I do not think so, but we should give this ministry a totally different role, one of pre-emption and impetus on all cultural subjects.
Firstly, this ministry ought to think about the matters of the future and pre-empt it; it should also encourage private and public actors to anticipate such matters. It was not up to the Ministry of Culture to create a “French Netflix,” but it was up to it to do everything so that public and private actors could come together to create one. This ministry ought to think right now about what will come next, with virtual reality, artificial intelligence and all that will follow, in order to make sure that businesses are created that will help defend French creators and creations.
Above all, it should listen, with respect, empathy and interest, to cultural and artistic initiatives from everywhere, even people who are not in any industry, clique, or network, among which are surely the gems of tomorrow.
A Ministry of Culture should not be in place in order to manage what already exists. In fact, it should mostly stay away from such things. It should rather have the impetus to catalyse the things that will become routine the day after tomorrow, and these are often things that nobody wants to hear about today.