Headline, August 06 2021/ ''' '' APP CULTURAL APT '' ''' : FRANCE


APT '' ''' : FRANCE

THE APP COMES WITH BUILT IN RESTRICTIONS - USERS can spend only up to Euro 100 on offerings like e-books and online media subscriptions, and on music or movie streaming services, which are also limited to French companies.

FRANCE'S CULTURE MINISTRY plans to introduce the pass to middle-school students, first in a teacher-managed classrooms setting, and gradually increasing amounts of autonomy and money, until students reach 18.

It also says the pass enables cultural institutions to reach young audiences, which are usually hard to attract, directly on their smartphones. Teenagers themselves echoed both critics and promoters of the pass : More guidance wouldn't hurt, but the freedom is great.

And while the Culture Pass can be spent on video games, the game's publisher must be French, and the game must not feature violence - conditions so restrictive that most popular titles are unavailable.

WHEN THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT INTRODUCED A smartphone app that gives 300 euros to every 18-year-old in the country for cultural purchases like books and music, or exhibition and performance tickets, most young people's impulse wasn't to buy Proust's greatest works or line up and see Moliere.

Instead, France's teenagers flocked to manga.

''It's a really good initiative,'' said Julette Sega, who lives in a small town in southeastern France and has used Euro 40 [about $47] to buy Japanese comic books and ''The Maze runner,'' a dystopian novel.

''I'm a steady consumer of novels and manga, and it helps pay for them.''

As of this month, books represented over 75% of all purchases made through the app since it was introduced nationwide in May - and roughly two-thirds of those books were manga, according to the organization that runs the app, called the Cultural Pass.

The French news media has written a ''manga rush,'' fueled by a ''manga pass'' - observations that came via a slightly distorted lens, since the app arrived just as theaters, cinemas and music festivals, emerging from pandemic related restrictions, had less to offer. And manga were already wildly popular in France.

But the focus on comic book reveals a subtle tension at the heart of the Cultural Pass's design, between the almost total freedom it affords its younger users - including to buy the mass media they already love - and its architects' aim of guiding users toward lesser- known and more highbrow arts.

Every French 18-year-old can activate the pass and spend Euro 300, about $350, for up to two years on the app, on which over 8,000 businesses and institutions have listed their offerings.

Teenagers can buy physical goods from bookstores, record shops and arts supply or instrument stores. They can purchase tickets to movie showings, plays, concerts or museum exhibitions. And they can sign up for dance, painting or drawing classes.

Noel Corbin, a Cultural Ministry official who oversees the project, said the pass gave France's newly minted adults a way of looking up nearby cultural offerings - the app has a geolocation feature - and encouraged them to indulge their cultural passions.

But it also uses incentives to push teenagers toward new, more challenging art forms, he said, a type of curation to '' bring young people to discover the realms of possibility of cultural life.''

Those include recommendation lists curated by Cultural Pass staff members and by popular artists and celebrities, as well as access to V.I.P. events, like a live-streamed concert at the Soulages Museum in southern France and a behind-the-scenes look at the Avignon theater festival.

In a speech to introduce the Culture Pass in May, President Emmanuel Macron, who had made the initiative one of his campaign promises, said that France would mark a ''formidable victory'' when young people stop saying, ''This work of literature, this movie is not for me.''

YET critics argue that letting 825,000 teenagers loose with free cash and expecting them to be nudged away from the nearest multiplex and into an art-house movie theater is a naive waste of taxpayer money.

Juan-Michel Tobelem, an associate professor at the University Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne who specializes in the economics of culture, said that it was a laudable effort but that it would largely benefit the mainstream media.

''You don't need to push young people to go see the latest Marvel movie,'' he said. There is nothing wrong with pop music or blockbusters, he stressed, acknowledging that that '' you can enter Korean culture through K-pop and then discover that there is a whole cinema, a literature, painters and composers that go with it.''

But Tobelem said that he was unconvinced that the no-strings-attached approach of the Culture Pass would do that, and that the app gave few incentives to engage with ''works that are more demanding on an artistic level.''

Gabriel Tine, an 18-year-old osteopathy student in Paris, has spent over Euro 200 from his pass at Citeaux Sphere, a Parisian record store, where he and a friend were thumbing through vinyls on a recent afternoon.

Nearly all his friends have activated the pass, and nationwide nearly 630,000 teenagers now use it. ''I wouldn't say no to attending a Jazz concert or something like that,'' Tine said, although he added that the app hadn't enticed him to buy those tickets.

''What's interesting,'' he said, ''is that each person can do what they want with it.''

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Technology, Teenagers, and the State-of-the-World, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Aurelien Breeden.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of France, and then the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

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