Visa suspensions for Sahel artists? The government defends itself

Visa suspensions for Sahel artists The government defends itself

The controversy was growing. The government preferred to cut it short. “We never boycott artists,” said French Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak on RTL this Friday, September 15, while professional voices denounced on Thursday an administration directive requesting the suspension of all collaboration with artists from Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.

“We do not currently have a visa service operating in these countries for security reasons,” she explained, denouncing “confusion” and explaining that it is today “materially” impossible. to “issue visas to come to France”.

“There is no question of stopping interacting with artists,” she insisted, specifying that all those “who already have visas and who have tours or shows planned […] will be able to come as planned.” “We never boycott artists anywhere,” she further stressed, adding that “there is no boycott or retaliation.”

A union denounces DRAC instructions

In a press release published Thursday, the Syndeac (National Union of Artistic and Cultural Enterprises) and its counterparts the Aac, the Accn, the A-CDCN, the ACDN and the ASN reacted strongly to the message they provide having received on Wednesday “from the DRAC”, the regional cultural directorates, and “written on the instructions of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs”.

“This message with a threatening tone asks our members to suspend, until further notice, all cooperation with the following countries: Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso,” the unions wrote in their press release.

For the Minister of Culture, “France has always been there to welcome artists in danger”. “We will continue to do it,” she also said. “It is an adaptation to an extremely degraded security context which particularly targets French buildings and French teams in these three countries,” she further justified.

On July 29 and August 6, France interrupted all its development aid and budget support actions with Niger and Burkina Faso. In November 2022, she had already done so for Mali.