France. After the often fierce criticism, particularly from the political class, during the experimental phase, the Culture Pass is experiencing a moment of grace – or respite –, as evidenced by two recent reports from institutions generally unfavorable to the government: the Senate and the Court of Auditors. “A gradual increase in load, satisfactory results”say Vincent Éblé and Didier Rambaud, the two rapporteurs of the Senate Finance Committee. “The current situation presents significant elements of reassurance,” comment the magistrates of the Court of Auditors.
The two reports do not have the same subject. The senators looked at the first results of the system while the wise people of Rue Cambon mainly dissected the administrative implementation of the pass in its prefiguration phase. If the magistrates of the Court are very critical of this implementation, their additional comments on the program are at a minimum neutral.
It is true that the figures speak for themselves. As of May 1, 2023, more than 3 million young people had opened an account on the pass application and 92% of them (among those over 18) had already made a reservation. The coverage rate relative to the populations concerned is 76% for those over 18, and 47% for 15-17 year olds (for whom the system is more recent). In 2022, the total value of bookings was €186 million, while the average spend (for the oldest cohort) was €244 (the purse is €300). The major phenomenon to remember is that the application is becoming the natural entry point for purchasing cultural goods and services for an entire generation (largely motivated by €300 pocket money).
The collective culture pass revolutionizes the EAC
However, these figures were largely known. More unique are the data and analyzes on the collective part of the past and its articulation with artistic and cultural education (EAC). As already pointed out by Arts Journal in its survey published in May 2022 (JdA No. 590), the combination of the two programs familiarizes those under 18 with the past, but above all disrupts the economy of the EAC. Each class, from sixth to final year, has an envelope of 600 to 900 euros to use for an outing, a cultural project, an external speaker, to be chosen from a database called “Adage” which simplifies the process of orders. 86% of middle and high schools have activated the program for the benefit of 2 million students. The Senate report indicates that the “Adage” application already lists 154,000 collective offers presented by 8,000 “offers”.
However, the two reports emphasize that the Individual Culture Pass has not yet proven itself on the most important thing: diversity and cultural equality. The figures do not (yet) allow us to detect possible changes in practices in the direction of exploration beyond the comfort zone of young people, reviving the recurring criticism of the windfall effect. Joining the avenues currently being studied by SAS Pass culture, the senators propose modifying the algorithm of the application so that it encourages discovery or creating “duo” offers so that a loved one accompanies the young person in its exit. Senators and magistrates also point out the often-mentioned problem of cultural white zones in rural areas and the difficulties of implementing a transport offer to remedy this.