We talked with Alice Gau, the head of the sponsorship and partnership department in the cultural service of the French Embassy in Chian, about art, patronages, and sponsorship within the embassy and in the world.

CHI: You mentioned to me that you love the relationship between Brands and Art and culture, can you explain to me why it excites you? 

Well, it is a very common opinion to oppose the world of business and the art world. Especially in France where since the second world war, the government developed a strong support system for artists and art institutions allowing them to grow, be independent, and accessible to all without having to consider fitting into the economy. Those two worlds seem to be so far apart, one is profit-driven, the other is seeking transcendence. One is materialist and the other conceptual. It seems impossible to have them cooperate. But when you look in the past, or nowadays abroad you discover how much a company and an artist can do together. How complementary they are and how they can help one another. Building this bridge requires to convince, to interpret and translate, and to be extremely flexible, resilient, and creative. It is still uncharted territory in many ways and it turns out to be super fun exploring and rewarding when a partnership is successful.  

法国驻华大使馆文化教育合作处的赞助商及合作伙伴负责人Alice Gau就艺术、赞助、使馆内部以及世界范围内的赞助等问题进行了交谈。

CHI: 您对我说过,您喜欢品牌与艺术和文化之间的关系,能否向我解释为什么它会激发您的兴趣?

嗯,把商业和艺术对立起来是很普遍的观点特别是在法国,自第二次世界大战以来,政府为艺术家和艺术机构建立了一个强有力的支持系统,使他们能够成长,独立,并向所有人开放,而不必考虑融入经济。这两个世界似乎相距甚远,一个是利益驱动,另一个是寻求超越。一个是唯物主义者,另一个是概念主义者。让他们合作似乎是不可能的。但是当你回顾过去,或者现在国外,你会发现一个公司和一个艺术家可以一起做多少事情。它们之间是如何互补和如何相互帮助的。建立这座桥梁需要说服、理解和融合,并且需要极其灵活、富有弹性和创造性。在很多方面,这仍然是一个未知的领域,当一个合作关系成功时,这将是一个非常有趣的探索和回报。

How does the Embassy curates/works with the tandem of brands and culture? 

大使馆如何在品牌和文化的串联下进行策划/工作?

The French Embassy in China probably has the biggest cultural department of all. 
Cultural diplomacy is a priority in French Chinese cooperation. Our tools are different flagship festivals organized all year long in the whole country. Among them are the Croisements Festival, the biggest foreign festival in China, or the French Chinese Month of the Environment that we are now preparing for this autumn. The scale of those events (2,400,000 audience members for Croisements) makes them great communication platforms for companies eager to promote their French image and that are targeting upper-class groups interested in the Arts. Our prestigious events are also unique public relations platforms for our partners to invite their VIP, members, partners, or biggest clients. Finally, the connexions and support we offer may create many development opportunities for members of our patron’s circle.  

法国驻华大使馆的文化部门可能是所有驻华使馆中规模最大的。文化外交是法中合作的重点。我们的工具是全国组织的在一年当中不同的旗舰节日。其中包括中法文化之春,中国最大的外国节日,或者我们现在正在为今年秋天准备的中法环境月。这些活动的规模(有2400000名中法文化之春观众)使它们成为渴望提升法国形象的公司和对艺术感兴趣的上层群体的绝佳沟通平台。我们著名的活动也是独特的公共关系平台,让我们的合作伙伴邀请他们的贵宾、会员、合作伙伴或最大的客户。最后,我们提供的联系和支持可能会为我们的赞助人圈子的成员创造许多发展机会。

Do you think cultural patronage by brands is important? why do you think it’s important? 

你认为品牌的文化赞助很重要吗?你为什么认为这很重要?

It’s important because it’s a great way for companies to engage in our society. Corporations’ impact on our lives is much more than simply economic. This is the idea behind Corporate Social Responsibility and Patronage is part of this. But it’s extremely varied and possibilities are infinite. So if the project is right, the artist, the agent, the company, the employees, and society all win something out of it. I find this very powerful because it is a perfect way to tear down walls and embrace the idea that everything is linked and we all influence one another. Corporations and artists both have a reputation to be out of the system in some way, and patronage is the perfect tool to put them both back at the center of our society. 

这很重要,因为这是公司参与社会活动的好方法。公司对我们生活的影响不仅限于经济。这是企业社会责任背后的想法,而赞助是其中的一部分。但这是千差万别的,可能性是无限的。因此,如果项目正确,那么艺术家,经纪人,公司,员工和社会都会从中受益。我认为这种赞助方式是一股强大的力量,因为这是一种推翻彼此之间的壁垒并接受所有事物都相互联系且我们彼此影响的理想选择。在某种程度上,企业和艺术家都有脱离体制的名声, 而赞助是将他们重新置于社会中心的完美工具。

How do you think this relationship can evolve and develop? maybe to any new form? 

你认为这种关系会如何发展和演变?会不会有新的形式?

Several trends are emerging such as crowdfunding (which is still very new but promising in China), skill-based patronage, or locally based patron’s circle with several companies funding projects together. But globally CSR is extremely innovative so new ideas pop up all the time. A Philanthropy Lab was just created recently in Paris. I’m looking forward to seeing what is going to come out of it. I can see that nowadays, cooperation goes much deeper than just a “money for visibility” classic kind of partnership. More and more projects are coproduced between artists and enterprises. 

一些趋势正在出现,如众筹(这在中国还是一个很新但很有前途的项目)、技能型赞助,或是由几家公司共同资助项目的本地赞助人圈。但在全球范围内,企业社会责任是极具创新性的,所以新的想法总是层出不穷。最近在巴黎建立了一个慈善实验室。我很期待看到会发生什么。换一个视角,可以看到,如今,合作远不止是一种“金钱换知名度”的经典伙伴关系。越来越多的项目是由艺术家和企业合作完成的。

How is cultural patronage developing in France? how does it differ from China?

法国的文化赞助是如何发展的?它与中国有何不同?

As I said France’s art world as been developing in opposition with business. The artworks are considered as invaluable and almost sacred. So when a patron wants to collaborate with an artist, it has to act as a philanthropist with a social mission to support the Arts. This is the only reason that is politically correct in France, any other kind of partnership is considered less pure and dangerous for the artist. This is a kind of hypocrisy that does not exist in China where corporations are explicitly expecting a return on investment. Hence, we are more talking about sponsorship than patronage here. The risk is to compromise the artist’s project to please the potential sponsor with enough benefits. It is not easy to find the perfect balance for a healthy relationship. But being honest and upfront about everyone’s requirements is the first step to success.

正如我所说,法国的艺术界一直在与商业对立中发展。这些艺术品被认为是无价之宝,几乎是神圣的。所以,当一个赞助人想要和一个艺术家合作时,他必须扮演一个慈善家的角色,肩负着支持艺术的社会使命。这是在法国政治上说的过去的唯一原因,否则任何其他形式的合作对艺术家来说都不是那么纯粹并且是危险的。在中国这种含糊是不存在的,因为在中国,企业明确地期望投资回报。因此,我们在这里谈论的更多是资金赞助而不是政治赞助。这样做的风险在于,为了取悦潜在的赞助商并获得足够的利益,会损害艺术家的项目。要找到一段健康完美平衡的关系并不容易。但是诚实和坦率地对待每个人的要求是成功的第一步。

What are your goals for the future? How you would like to bring more brands and art together? 

你未来的目标是什么?你想怎样把更多的品牌和艺术结合起来?

I just arrived at the French Embassy in January so for now, my goal is to implement new ways to use patronage as a tool to develop French Chinese cultural cooperation. For example, I would like to create artist residencies within companies in China where the artists would become part of the workforce, bringing his/her skillset to the company’s development.  

我刚在一月份到达法国大使馆,所以现在,我的目标是采用新的方法,利用赞助作为发展法中文化合作的工具。例如,我想在中国的公司内部创建艺术家驻地,使艺术家成为员工队伍的一部分,从而使其技能为公司的发展带来一臂之力。