Investment in the cultural sector is important, and the worse the economy is, the more investment in culture is needed, former French minister of culture Jack Lang said yesterday.
Lang, who was invited to Taiwan by the Ministry of Culture, said at a press conference that he helped increase France’s cultural budget during his terms as minister to send the message that “culture is an important investment.”
Lang held the position of culture minister between 1981 and 1986, and from 1988 to 1992. Under his tenure, the budget of the French Ministry of Culture in 1982 was doubled from US$444 million in 1981, and it continued to increase over the years, reaching about US$2.05 billion in 1993.
Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台), who also attended the press conference, asked Lang if strong support from a country’s president, a culture minister’s own visions and ability to execute policies, as well as a strong economy, were all indispensable factors to creating a favorable environment for the investment in culture.
Lang said France’s economy had not always been great, but he believed more resources should be allocated to the cultural sector during an economic downturn.
He mentioned the 1983 Grand Louvre project as an example of the benefits of such investment.
Lang said that the plan to renovate and expand the museum and move the Ministry of Finance to another building drew much opposition at the time, but the project, which included the creation of the famous glass pyramid, helped boost museum visitor numbers from 2 million to 10 million and benefited the development of France’s tourism and economy.
Lang and Lung are to speak at Eslite’s flagship bookstore in Taipei’s Xinyi District (信義) on Saturday at an event titled: “Vision and Practice: A Conversation between Two Culture Ministers.”
The former French minister arrived in Taiwan on Sunday on an eight-day visit.
During his trip, Lang is also scheduled to visit other cultural centers in Taipei, including the National Palace Museum, Huashan 1914 Creative Park, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the National Theater Hall and the National Concert Hall, as well as other cultural institutions around Taiwan.