In France it is called Pass Culture and it was one of the campaign promises of President Emmanuel Macron. Extremely popular with young people – used by more than 750,000 people, equivalent to 85% of French 18-year-olds – this cultural voucher offers 300 euros to spend for up to two years. The offer is wide: exhibitions, films, guided tours, art and music courses, concerts, books, instruments, video games and subscriptions to newspapers and platforms in streaming.
The wide variety of activities and products explains the objective of this initiative. “The idea is that young people discover a more diversified offer, that they have the possibility of being curious, of being open, of trying new experiences and that, in the long run, they become illustrious citizens”, explains Sébastien Cavalier to elDiario.es, President of Pass Culture. For Cavalier, the fact that Spain has announced similar aid “is proof that the project works.”
The implementation of this bonus was progressive. It began to be established in 2019 in some regions of the country, but it was not until May of this year that it spread to all of France, coinciding with the reopening of leisure and culture after six months of confinement. In addition, as of 2022, it will cease to be an exclusive aid for 18-year-olds and will be extended to minors who turn 15, 16 and 17 years old.
Fury for manga
This voucher works through an application where the user can explore the type of products and activities available. There are 12 categories: cinema; visits and exhibitions; music; shows; courses and workshops; books; movies, series and podcasts; press; video game; conferences; Musical instruments; and creative art supplies.
According to the French Ministry of Culture, books lead the popularity ranking, representing 78% of total bookings, followed by music and cinema. The application has more than 2.5 million books, although Sébastien Cavalier attributes this boom to the pandemic.
One of the literary genres that is succeeding the most among young people is manga, which reached more than 80% of sales before the summer.
“Miura’s masterpiece complete and in my possession, with this I conclude my cultural pass! (This photo is synonymous with happiness)”, writes a young Twitter.
This rage for Japanese comics generated some controversy, although the controversy has led to a broader debate about what is considered a cultural work or experience. “Comics in France began to be recognized as the ninth art in the 1980s and became popular in the 1990s,” explains Cavalier. “Japan has great manga classics, comparable to Tintin or Asterix and Obelix in France.” A controversy that the director of Pass Culture transforms into an opportunity: “By giving the floor to young people, it forces us adults to question ourselves about what we consider to be part of the culture,” he says.
For this voucher to inspire and arouse curiosity in young people, the application has several limitations to force users to diversify their purchases. First of all, it is not possible to spend more than 100 euros on digital products and services, such as video games or subscriptions to Spotify or Canal +. Nor is it allowed to exceed 200 euros in the same product.
The voucher also does not offer a home delivery service. “For us it is crucial that young people have to go and pick up what they have bought,” says Cavalier. “In this way they enter the cultural atmosphere, discover all kinds of establishments and, once there, the vendor has an essential role as mediator to advise and recommend other products to young people”, he explains.
The offer of premium content is another aspect that, from Pass Culture, it is wanted to promote: from meetings with artists and specialized workshops, to private visits in the Elysee Palace. Last week, for example, 1,400 invitations were offered to go to the Paris Opera. Tickets were sold out in two hours.