On the brink of suffocation, the art school is sounding the alarm
In France, a large number of art schools are experiencing a serious budget crunch. Faced with worried students and staff, the community and the state are handing over responsibility.
“It’s about to explode”the punch of an official from the Ministry of Culture. “This is a historic mobilization”, exclaimed Hélène Giannecchini, professor at the Poitiers school of art, which was occupied since 28 November. Shocked, he said he learned, after five months of rumors of layoffs and without securing an appointment with management, that his contract might not be renewed at the start of the next school year. Overall, by 2026 at EESI Angoulême-Poitiers, 15 positions will have jumped, between non-renewing contracts, retirement and permanent closing of vacant positions. So next September, there will be no more volume workshops in Angoulême. “Teaching provides income for many arts workersemphasized Hélène Giannechini. This job loss was catastrophic for some people. » He added: “These are the most precarious, fixed-term contracts, who are at a disadvantage. Often young people and women are newly hired, following a rebalancing of the predominantly male workforce”.
In most of the 45 art schools dotted across France, the picture is just as grim. And for good reason: their coffers are empty, and art education in France is suffering. The Kafkaesque ecosystem was a major factor in the crisis: most of the schools were under the educational supervision of the Ministry of Culture, but in mixed funding, with cities, metropolises, or regions. Another factor is situational. First, inflation and soaring energy costs – schools are places of high production. But also non-compensation by the State for the disbursement of civil service index points, which led to a boom in wage bills for local authorities, which also disappeared with the 2021 reform share of housing tax revenues.
By 2022, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region will see Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Clermont-Ferrand and Annecy schools reduce their subsidies by 15 to 45%. In Lyon, the national school, 100,000 euros were waived, while in Saint-Etienne, the 180,000 euro cuts by the region were compensated by the city. But this generosity is unlikely everywhere. The Ésad de Valenciennes, one of the oldest art schools in France, founded in 1782, will soon be closed due to a lack of city support – as happened in Perpignan in 2016. In a press release, the students explained that “immediate threat ” by “repeated budget cuts in recent years, caused by the gradual withdrawal of the city of Valenciennes”. A desire clearly demonstrated by the mayor and president of the agglomeration, Laurent Degallaix, who claims a deficit of 400,000 euros. The blow came on January 5: the school’s board of directors voted to abolish the entrance exam and withdraw it from the Parcoursup platform. In other words: there will be no new first-year students at the start of the school year in September, meaning a reduction in the number of students from a hundred students to about 50. This “white year” damaged student and staff morale, say Erin Naudi and Valentin Charton, members of ZEL, the student association of Ésad: “Teachers left, we didn’t know what our diplomas were worth, and only a few of us mobilized… Many were very depressed.” Their letter to the Ministry of Culture remains unanswered.
Ensa de Bourges – a national school that received 30% less than others and is housed in a municipal building – is in a dire state of disrepair. School takes place in a place under construction that is taking place “tribulation cache”, according to one student. The same observation at the Duperré school of applied arts (under the educational supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education), is very cramped and which struggles with the city hall of the Center of Paris for a proper second place: part of the workshop is located in the basement, without windows or ventilation, or in an inappropriate pavilion.
The budget impasse partially explains much of the tension in schools, especially the abuse that has been condemned. Lessons are changed immediately and without consultation, long term projects are terminated due to lack of resources or due to change of direction… So…