The French Culture Minister Who Echoed Objections to Jeff Koons’s Paris Memorial Is Out in a Cabinet Reshuffle

President Macron has replaced Françoise Nyssen with Franck Reister.

Former French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen and Jeff Koons. Photo: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images.

Emmanuel Macron has replaced French culture minister Françoise Nyssen as part of a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday. He has named her replacement as Franck Riester, who will become France’s fifth culture minister in six years.

According to French media, Nyssen’s departure was a long time coming and follows the exit of several other ministry staffers. Over the course of her tenure, the former minister was frequently accused of disorganization and sometimes seemed overwhelmed during public appearances. It also emerged that she continued to work for her publishing company, Actes Sud, without declaring it, presenting a potential conflict of interest.

Nevertheless, Nyssen oversaw a number of important successes for Macron’s administration, including the implementation of a national Culture Pass, which offered young French citizens a €500 credit to attend cultural events via a mobile app—an initiative that was one of Macron’s campaign promises. The former minister was also a vocal advocate for copyright reform in Europe, arguing for greater autonomy for cultural creators over how their work is used.

Nyssen also won plaudits for supporting the objections to installing Jeff Koons‘s memorial to the victims of the 2015 Paris terror attacks, Bouquet of Tulips, in a square in front of the Eiffel Tower.

The new culture minister, Franck Reister, is a career politician and former mayor of the town of Coulommiers, who was first elected to the town council at only 21 years old. He left the center-right Republican party after Macron’s election and founded his own liberal, pro-Europe party more aligned with the president’s En Marche party. Reister is the first French member of parliament to come out as gay, and is a vocal proponent of gay rights, including same-sex marriage and adoption.

Like his predecessor, Reister does not have a visual arts background, instead specializing in media and broadcasting. According to the Art Newspaper he called for centralizing French media outlets during his parliamentary campaign by bringing together a number of government-backed TV and radio stations under one roof, similar to the UK’s BBC. However, he worked on unpopular copyright reform to combat online piracy under France’s previous president Nicholas Sarkozy.

One of the minister’s first priorities will be overseeing the establishment of a National Music Center in 2019, an initiative he backed in a report he wrote seven years ago, and which his predecessor announced in April.


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