Approved last May, the mobile application through which you access a bonus of 300 euros to spend on culture, is consolidated as a measure of success to alleviate the effects of the pandemic in one of the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis. More than 600,000 18-year-old users – it can only be used if you are this age in 2021 – have downloaded the application and 75% are investing it in books, according to a report in The New York Times.
This is a measure announced by French President Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 election campaign, which has now seen the light of day with the intention of encouraging cultural consumption among young people, while helping the industry in a pandemic.
The application, which operates through geolocation, highlights the cultural offers close to the user. And this can go to bookstores, museums, stores specialized in music or cinema and cultural spaces of all kinds, and pay for their purchases or tickets with the ‘virtual wallet’ generated in it.
But also, as Noël Corbin, a senior official in the Ministry of Culture in charge of supervising the project, tells The New York Times, the application is designed to motivate the user in different areas. “It leads young people to discover new possibilities of the cultural life of their cities,” says Corbin, who explains that the voucher features recommendations selected by members of the Culture Pass staff, but also by artists and celebrities. For example: VIP access to events, a live concert at the Soulages Museum –south of France– or a guided tour of the Avignon theater festival.
French media such as Le Monde have renamed the Culture Pass like Manga Pass, and Le Figaro talk about ‘manga fever’ in the light of the first data that show the consumption habits of the subscribers: two out of every three books purchased are translations of Japanese manga.
As Aurelien Breeden tells in The New York Times, the data is not surprising since it must be taken into account that leisure and cultural alternatives such as cinemas, shows, concerts or museums, still have severe restrictions due to the coronavirus and, in addition, you need a health certificate to access them.
But in addition, France is a country with a long tradition of comics, and one of the countries that reads the most comics in the European Union. Only in 2020, as Les Echos reported, sales increased by 6%, billing up to 591 million euros. And within the publishing industry as a whole, it is the sector that grows the most, taking 18% of the market share: almost one out of every five books sold in France is a comic.
On the other hand, cultural bonds are not a novelty in the European Union. Countries like Italy grant up to 500 euros to young people of 18 – exactly the same as France -, since 2016. A star measure by Matteo Renzi that, at the time, generated controversy and was branded as populist by certain cultural sectors, as El País reported, while others, like the writer Stephen King, applauded that there could be something like a cultural fertilizer.