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Incentives for Art in Public Spaces

© Compagnie Ilotopie

In France, outdoor performances constitute a form of artistic takeover in any urban space (from the streets to the gardens, from the supermarkets to the forests...). Since the 60s, and even more since the 80s, the French Minister of Culture has supported arts and culture in public spaces, as they are considered a crucial issue of democracy. The events are connected to broader questions such as social diversity, citizen awareness, and public information.

In the upcoming years, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy will aim to encourage the presence of French performing arts projects in public spaces in the United States, both indoors and outdoors, and to foster exchanges and dialogues between the two countries in this field.

In 2019, several French companies, all different in styles and aesthetics, were - and will be - presented in the United States, in the streets or in public buildings:

- Appearances/Disappearances by Compagnie Les Souffleurs as part of The Night of Philosophy and Ideas in Washington, DC and Brooklyn, NY, in January and February 2019

- The Marching Band, by Frédéric Nauzyciel and artists from the city of Baltimore, Washington DC, in January 2019

- Pearl by Street arts collectif Plasticiens Volants at ArtPark, Lewiston, NY, and Rochester Fringe, NY, in August and September 2019

-The Parade of The Moles by Philippe Quesne, a street performance presented by NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, NY, in September;

- Hidden Stories by the street theater company Begat Theater presented by Boom Arts, Portland, OR; then at  WOW Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, CA; and, in Downtown Brooklyn, NY, in October;

And in 2020, more projects are in preparation (Olivier Grossetête, Compagnie Gratte-Ciel, Compagnie Ilotopie, Compagnie Galmae-Juhyoung Lee…)

Resources and Network

The network of institutions in France includes a wide range of organizations, associations, and arts centers, all of which operate within the field of arts and culture. Hailing from all over metropolitan France, the partners include 14 national centers dedicated to arts in public spaces, including The National Federation of Street Art.

ARTCENA, National Center for Circus Arts and Street Theater; ASSOCIATION ÉCLAT - LE PARAPLUIE, Aurillac (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes); SOAR - Quelques p'Arts, Boulieu-lès-Annonay (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes); L’ABATTOIR, Chalon-sur-Saône (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté); LES ATELIERS FRAPPAZ, Villeurbanne (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes); LE FOURNEAU, Brest (Brittany); LE BOULON, Vieux-Condé (Hauts-de-France); LE MOULIN FONDU, Noisy-le-Sec (Paris region); L’ATELIER 231, Sotteville-lès-Rouen (Normandy); SUR LE PONT, La Rochelle (Nouvelle-Aquitaine); PRONOMADE(S), Encausse-les-Thermes (Occitanie); L'USINE, Tournefeuille (Occitanie); LA PAPERIE, Angers (Pays de la Loire); LE CITRON JAUNE, Port St-Louis du Rhône (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur); LIEUX PUBLICS - National Centre for Artistic Creation in Public Spaces, Marseille  (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur).

Key Festivals in France

There are several key festivals of outdoor performances in France, for example:  

Festival de Chalon dans la rue (July) in Eastern France; Festival d’Aurillac (August) in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region; Festival de rue de Ramonville, featuring a range of performances including music and dance based works; Furies (June) features circus acts, amongst others; Cratère Surfaces (July) situated in the three neighbouring regions of Alès, Anduze, and Vézénobres in Southern France; and last but not least Les Tombées de la Nuit, featuring both indoor and outdoor performances in unique public locations including basketball courts, warehouses, and street corners, or Plastique Danse Flore (Fall) taking place in gardens.


Short Selection of Key companies in France

Many artists from various disciplines (dance, circus, theater…) have explored outdoors and/or public space. Other companies dedicated their works to it.  Here is a selection of companies:

Royal de Luxe

Compagnie Gratte-Ciel

Les Souffleurs

Begat Theatre

Galmae - JuhYoung Lee

Plasticiens Volants

KompleX KapharnaüM

Olivier Grossetête

Les Grandes Personnes

Martial Chazallon and Martin Chaput-projet In Situ

Compagnie Ilotopie

Association Rhizome - Chloé Moglia



Funding for these projects is made possible through FACE Foundation programs such as Etant donnés for visual arts, FACE Contemporary Theatre, and FUSED-French U.S. Exchange in Dance) for which artistic projects in public spaces are a priority for 2020-2022. In addition, funding for curatorial trips to France to encourage partnership is provided by the French Embassy.  To expand these programs, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy is seeking additional targeted funding.


The Cultural Services of the French Embassy

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, digital innovation, language, and higher education across the U.S.. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight other cities across the country, the Cultural Services brings artists, authors, intellectuals, and innovators to cities nationwide. www.frenchculture.org

FACE Foundation

FACE Foundation is an American nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting French-American relations through innovative cultural and educational projects. In partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, FACE Foundation promotes artistic, literary and educational exchange and collaboration between creative professionals from both countries. www.face-foundation.org

Contact at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy:

-Laurent Clavel, Cultural Attaché, Visual and Performing Arts Email: laurent.clavel@frenchculture.org

-Nicole Birmann Bloom, Program Officer, Performing Arts, Email:  nicole.birmann-bloom@frenchculture.org