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France aims to break male domination of classical music

Update: July, 11/2018 - 12:30
French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen has set a gold of seeing women head up half of France’s major cultural institutions within the next five years. — AFP Photo
Viet Nam News

PARIS — France launched a campaign on Tuesday to counter male domination of classical music, with women making up only 3 per cent of the country’s conductors.

Culture minister Francoise Nyssen said she wanted to see women heading up half of France’s major cultural institutions within the next five years.

"The figures oblige us (to do something)," said Nyssen in a speech at the Aix-en-Provence classical music festival, pointing out that little more than one in 10 stages were run by women and an even smaller proportion of working composers were female.

And she warned venues and festivals to increase their use of female performers and composers by up to 10 per cent a year or see their subsidies cut.

Operas and theatres where women already account for between a quarter and 40 per cent of senior management were set less stringent standards, but were still urged to up representation by at least five per cent.

To hammer home her message, Nyssen named the first woman to head one of France’s seven national centres for musical creation, which are dedicated to creating new musical works.

She also asked another, Laurence Equilbey, the head of the choir Accentus, to overhaul the training system for young singers.

The conductor will also put together a common choral repertoire for children in schools.

Nyssen said that she was also setting aside 500,000 euros (US$585,000) to try to close the gender pay gap in her own ministry.

With women accounting for only a tiny fraction of the winners of France’s main annual music awards, she urged female artists to be given greater visibility in the programming of concerts and shows.

The minister has also been a vocal supporter of upping the number of female film directors, creating a fund with Sweden to support women filmmakers. — AFP

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