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Posts Tagged ‘manga’

Photo: Guillaume Armspach.
France’s Culture Pass is bringing more young people into the store, L’Emile’s owner said.

France is experimenting with giving free money to kids to spend on culture. Most are buying media they already like, not high art, but maybe that’s OK.

Aurelien Breeden presents the controversy at the New York Times. “When the French government launched a smartphone app that gives 300 euros (about $348) to every 18-year-old in the country for cultural purchases like books and music, or exhibition and performance tickets, most young people’s impulse wasn’t to buy Proust’s greatest works or to line up and see Molière.

“Instead, France’s teenagers flocked to manga.

“ ‘It’s a really good initiative,’ said Juliette Sega, who lives in a small town in southeastern France and has used €40 (about $47) to buy Japanese comic books and ‘The Maze Runner,’ a dystopian novel. …

“As of this month, books represented over 75 percent of all purchases made through the app since it was introduced nationwide in May — and roughly two-thirds of those books were manga, according to the organization that runs the app, called the Culture Pass.

“The French news media has written of a ‘manga rush,‘ fueled by a ‘manga pass‘ — observations that came via a slightly distorted lens, since the app arrived just as theaters, cinemas and music festivals, emerging from pandemic-related restrictions, had less to offer. And manga were already wildly popular in France.

“But the focus on comic books reveals a subtle tension at the heart of the Culture Pass’s design, between the almost total freedom it affords it young users — including to buy the mass media they already love — and its architects’ aim of guiding users toward lesser-known and more highbrow arts. …

“Teenagers can buy physical goods from bookstores, record shops and arts supply or instrument stores. They can purchase tickets to movie showings, plays, concerts or museum exhibits. And they can sign up for dance, painting or drawing classes.

“Noël Corbin, a Culture Ministry official who oversees the project, said the pass gave France’s newly minted adults a way of looking up nearby cultural offerings — the app has a geolocation feature — and encouraged them to indulge their cultural passions.

“But it also uses incentives to push teenagers toward new, more challenging art forms, he said. … Those include recommendation lists curated by Culture Pass staff members and by popular artists and celebrities, as well as access to V.I.P. events, like a live-streamed concert at the Soulages Museum in southern France and a behind-the-scenes look at the Avignon theater festival. …

“Jean-Michel Tobelem, an associate professor at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne who specializes in the economics of culture, said that it was a laudable effort but that it would largely benefit the mainstream media. …

“There is nothing wrong with pop music or blockbusters, he stressed, acknowledging that ‘you can enter Korean culture through K-Pop and then discover that there is a whole cinema, a literature, painters and composers that go with it.’ But Tobelem said that he was unconvinced that the no-strings-attached approach of the Culture Pass would do that. …

“Naza Chiffert, who runs two independent bookstores in Paris, said the Culture Pass had already had a positive impact on her business. ‘Getting young people who read but who are more used to Amazon or big-box stores to come to us isn’t easy,’ she said, but now she has teenagers in her stores every day.

“Still, some worry that the pass will be a financial windfall for people from privileged backgrounds while doing little to help others expand their cultural horizons. …

“Opponents accuse Macron of throwing cash at young people to court their vote before next year’s presidential election and choosing an unregulated approach instead of funding existing cash-strapped outreach programs, like those run by youth community centers, that broaden access to culture in a more structured way.

“France’s Culture Ministry counters that it plans to introduce the pass to middle-school students, first in a teacher-managed classroom setting, and gradually increasing amounts of autonomy and money, until students reach 18. It also says the pass enables cultural institutions to reach young audiences, which are usually hard to attract, directly on their smartphones. …

“Gabriel Tiné, an 18-year-old osteopathy student in Paris, has spent over €200 from his pass at Citeaux Sphère, a Parisian record store, where he and a friend were thumbing through vinyls on a recent afternoon. … Tiné said he liked the idea, especially the ability to splurge on musical instruments or art classes.

“ ‘I wouldn’t say no to attending a jazz concert or something like that,’ Tiné said, although he added that the app hadn’t enticed him to buy those tickets.”

More at the Times, here.

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