What do the numbers say? Edition France: a destination with unexpected opportunities

What do the numbers say? Edition France: a destination with unexpected opportunities

France sometimes seems difficult to approach for Dutch artists. However, new initiatives are creating new possibilities for the Dutch cultural sector.
By Lisa Grob

In 2018, 369 Dutch artists participated in 893 cultural activities across France, making it the fifth most visited country. These events took place in 370 venues across 173 cities across the country.

Finding your way in France as an artist can be a challenge. The formal ways of interaction, the language, and the ‘grandeur’ of Paris are often perceived as obstacles by Dutch artists. Knowledge on how cultural cooperation within France works is essential and can work in your advantage. Therefore hereunder you find some facts & figures from our 2018 data on cultural exchange with France, to help you discover possible leads that could simplify the passage of your cultural practice to France. 

Main disciplines and travellers

In 2017, 1150 activities took place in France, 257 more than in 2018. The amount of activities was probably higher in 2017 because the Dutch Embassy and the Dutch funds created, together with DutchCulture, the campaign Oh! Pays-Bas that year, a programme focusing on bringing innovative Dutch projects to France throughout the year. 

Let us first take a look at the distribution of activities per disciplines. The main discipline in France is music at 29%. It is namely thanks to the many concerts of Dutch phenomena such as Altin Gün and The Mauskovic Dance Band that this discipline has grown by 2% compared to 2017.

The percentage of the performing arts in the total of Dutch activities in France has decreased considerably by 22% (from 45% to 23%). This could be due to the fact that the campaign of Dutch Performing Arts, Dutch Performing Arts | En France, had its peak in 2017.

The audio-visual sector has grown by 7% in 2018, from 8% to 15%, thanks to the screening of Beyond Sleep from Dutch film maker Boudewijn Koole in French cinemas and the retrospective of the work of Johan van der Keuken in the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

beyond sleep.jpg

Beyond Sleep from Dutch film maker Boudewijn Koole


From 2017 to 2018, the percentage of literature in the total of Dutch cultural activities in France has increased by 12% (from 4% to 16%). Les Phares du Nord, the campaign of the Dutch Foundation for Literature aimed at increasing the market for Dutch literature in France, is bearing fruit.

Figure 1. Events divided by discipline
It’s all about Paris

Where do these activities take place? Well, mainly in Paris: 361 of 893 Dutch activities in 2018 (40%) are located in the French capital. Paris is (still) the centre of the French art scene and for some cultural disciplines, such as fashion, the city holds an international leading position. This means competition is tough and it can thus be difficult to access certain cultural venues. 

The Dutch Embassy in Paris however has a secret weapon: the Atelier Néerlandais. Unique in the Dutch institutional cultural presence abroad, it is an actual venue in the centre of Paris that functions both as a platform for networking and as a place to showcase Dutch cultural work. The Atelier Néerlandais supports Dutch cultural professionals to be active in France. Becoming a member of the Atelier Néerlandais can thus help kickstart your career in France. The significant presence of Dutch cultural activities in Paris might also partly be explained by the existence of the Atelier Néerlandais. 

Figure 2. Top cities
Regional spread

To counter the prominence of Paris in the cultural field, the Dutch Embassy in Paris and the Dutch cultural funds are working more and more to connect to venues in other major French cities such as Marseille, Montpellier and Lyon. 

The Dutch Foundation for Literature for example brings Dutch literature to all corners of France with the above-mentioned campaign Les Phares du Nord.



Les Phares du Nord focuses on Dutch and Flanders youth literature in France.

The figure below shows that there are venues outside Paris, excluding our own Atelier Néerlandais, more frequently visited than venues in Paris itself. For example, the literature festival Comédie du Livre in Montpellier invited a striking number of 30 Dutch-writing writers for a focus programme on Dutch literature. 

For the future, the Dutch Embassy has some ambitious plans in the region, such as a Dutch focus programme as part of Lille Metropole World Capital of Design and the Manifesta Biennale in Marseille, both in 2020. Read more about these events in the interview with cultural attaché Friso Wijnen

Figure 3. Top venues
Internationally acclaimed festivals

Another indicator of the importance of France as a stepping stone for an international career, is the fact that France has internationally acclaimed festivals in all disciplines: Avignon for theatre with the Festival d’Avignon, the Cannes Film Festival and Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Paris for the fashion weeks, the Biennale in Lyon for the visual arts and in Lyon we also find the Nuits Sonores music festival.

Figure 4. Events divided by venue type
Leading country

To conclude, regarding culture, France remains a leading country with many internationally acclaimed festivals and with a trendsetting capital city were competition is high. However, the Dutch Embassy in Paris is working on creating opportunities for Dutch artists by connecting to venues in different regions of France and by actively promoting and exploring the potential of the Atelier Néerlandais in Paris.

The main thing to remember when going to France is that the possibilities are there and that DutchCulture, the Dutch cultural funds, the Dutch Embassy in Paris and the Atelier Néerlandais are there to support you and to provide you with all sorts of important information. 

Check out the complete overview of Dutch cultural activities in France in our database.

If you are a cultural professional who wants to go to Belgium, feel free to contact our Belgium advisor Lisa Grob.

For funding possibilities, check out our Cultural Mobility Funding Guide or the websites of our partners Mondriaan Fund, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Performing Arts FundDutch Film Fund, EYE International, Creative Industries Fund NL and the Dutch Embassy in Paris.

Database disclaimer