“An economic model that is difficult to sustain”

While its accounts are already not glorious, the Center Pompidou must face two major risky investments: work on the Piano & Rogers building, and the construction of reserves in Massy. Here is a summary of what we learn from the recent report of the Court of Auditors which covers the period 2013-2022, i.e. the mandate of three presidents: Alain Seban, Serge Lasvignes and Laurent Le Bon.

The economic situation of the Center before its closure in 2024 is indeed tense. On the one hand, over the past ten years it has recorded an erosion of its attendance, both for the permanent collections and for the temporary exhibitions. The Court notes in particular a deficit of foreign visitors compared to the Louvre and Orsay museums. This results in a drop in ticketing revenue which goes from an average of 15 million euros before Covid to 12.6 million in 2022, and undoubtedly less in 2023 due to the long strike at the end of the last year. This drop is in theory offset by the increase in the sale of turnkey exhibitions, cultural engineering and royalties for the Provisional Pompidou Centers (CPP in Málaga, Shanghai and Brussels): 10.4 million euros in (2016) and 14.5 million euros (2022). However, the magistrates note that as positive as they are, these international activities are not necessarily very profitable. According to 2019 figures from the consulting firm McKinsey, the CPP margin rate is only 45% (the Center Pompidou had to use a consulting firm because it does not keep analytical accounts for these projects).

On the spending side, the situation is hardly under control. Particularly because of the size of the payroll (1,045 agents) which continues to grow: 116 million euros in 2022 and the Court believes that it will continue to grow by 1 million euros per year. In passing, she notes several exceptional advantages granted to certain agents (such as, for example, the meal break counted in working time) which represent a total of 20 additional positions. So the State must put its hand in its pocket more and more often: its subsidy which was 65.4 million euros in 2005 was 78.2 million euros in 2022. In conclusion, its self-financing capacity is zero.

Find €168.7 million before 2025

It is in this context that the public establishment must manage the work and costs linked to the temporary closure of the Center and those linked to the construction and operation of the Pompidou Center in the Ile-de-France region. The magistrates regret that the debate between work on an open site and work on a closed site lasted too long. He notes that Laurent Le Bon's decision to postpone the closure until after the Olympic Games and to take advantage of the work to reorganize the interior spaces (which, curiously, his predecessor had not considered) considerably increases costs. The actual cost of the technical work thus increased from 210 million euros in 2021 to 262 million, which is entirely financed by the State. This is not the case for what the Court calls the cultural master plan, which must be financed from its own funds. However, of the 207 million euros that this cultural plan will cost, only 39 million have been acquired. The president of the Center is committed to finding the missing money or to giving up certain projects depending on the funding obtained which can only come from patronage. The countdown has begun: he must have found the missing 168.7 million euros before the start of 2025, at the latest, to rule on the retained work. It's going to be complicated.

The Massy Ile-de-France Center will be open to the public

At the same time, the Center must finance the Massy site. If the Court admits that it is a wise decision to group all the outsourced reserves in a single place of its own, it regrets that the Center has chosen the formula of a public private partnership (PPP). She is pleased that local authorities have put their hands in their pockets, but has doubts about the zero-sum game of the operation. In theory, the savings made on outsourced rentals should compensate for the rents paid to partners, but in reality the Center will have to find 58 million euros between 2027 and 2051. It is true that not only will the Massy site offer comfort of greater work for the management of the works, but also to offer 2,500 square meters of cultural spaces open to the public. It is also on this condition that local authorities agreed to provide subsidies.

In summary, notwithstanding the race against time to finance the cultural works project, the Center will have to significantly increase its own resources to finance its new expenses. Unless he reduces his payroll. This is what the magistrates are half-heartedly suggesting, who note that 139 agents will retire during the closure. The opportunity to review the mode of operation upon reopening.

Similar Posts