Was on the verge of postponing an already much postponed lunch with Francois Chambraud, Director of the French Cultural Centre, but forced myself to jump on my bike and make the time. Glad I did. What a lovely place: library, bookshop, cinematheque & cafe on the ground floor, language classes on the second, exams & university enquiries on the third, and photographic exhibitions lining the stairs & walls. It was full of people, both Chinese & French. It made me long for a public-facing establishment but the fact is: we can't teach English in China (yet), we work with partners' venues rather than bringing people into our own building, and it's just too expensive. The FCC's location is great but the rent is sky high. So, in short, we're practical, living in a time of cuts.
This when the French Minister of Culture, Frederic Mitterand, announced that the French Culture budget will actually increase by 2.7%. "Though most of the countries of Europe have chosen to trim, often substantially, their culture budgets, France has made a different choice. The cultural offering is a determining element in our attractiveness as a country and its economic development."