'Culture is not made to order, it is self-created, self-sustaining and self-renewing in a plurality of social practices' writes Philippe Poirrier in the introduction to this anthology of texts basic to French cultural policies. The selected texts, which include laws and regulations, speeches, writings by senior public servants, and administrative reports, are preceded by a short, highly informative historical presentation. Cultural policies were first introduced during the French Revolution as a result of the government's efforts to regenerate society. At the same time, the notion of national heritage was conceived and the question of creative freedom was raised. From 1789 until the present day, governments have been constantly redefining culture and its role.
Over the course of some hundred and thirty commented texts (laws, decrees, but also discourses, tribunes, etc.) the reader is invited to go through the great milestones of two centuries of the history of cultural policies in France. Since the revolutionary foundations to the last legal project 'Freedom of Creation, Architecture and Heritage', referring to the years of Malraux and Lang, a constant appears despite the ruptures: public policy of culture participates in the construction of the Republic and democracy.
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