France gives young people €500 arts and culture pass

Young people in five French departments are to be given a free “culture pass” app pre-loaded with €500-worth of credit each, to improve their access to cultural and artistic activities in their area.

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Young people aged 18 in the Bas-Rhin, Finistère, Hérault, Seine-Saint-Denis and French Guiana are currently eligible for the €500 voucher: around 12,600 young people in total.

The new scheme is part of an election campaign promise by President Emmanuel Macron to improve young people’s access to culture and the arts.

The amount is delivered via a smartphone app, which uses geolocation to recommend suitable activities to users in their local area.

It has been dubbed “Tinder for the arts”, as it presents activities - such as a show or theatre production - in your local area, which you can then swipe one way to dismiss, and another way to buy.

The app is available to everyone, but eligible 18-year-olds will receive the €500 credit on top.

If the current trial is deemed successful, the app is set to be rolled out nationwide.

For eligible 18-year-olds, there will be a cap of €200 that can be spent on online cultural materials or at-home supplies, such as book and digital music downloads, audiovisual tools, online streaming, musical instruments or art equipment, as well as online access to materials such as audiobooks, video games, or online conferences.

There will be no cap (beyond the €500 limit) for physical cultural outings, such as museum, concert or theatre visits; or courses for skills such as painting, drawing, dancing, or playing music.

The credit will be non-renewable, and must be used within one year on a set pre-selected choice of events and activities.

The full list of conditions and activities available can be seen on the official pass website.

Anyone who will be 18 years old at the time of the account opening or activation is eligible for the amount, which will include anyone born between November 1 1999, and December 31 2000.

Recipients must hold nationality from one of the following: France, an EU or EEC country, or Switzerland; or they must have been living legally on French territory for at least a year.

They must also be living in one of the communes, departments, regions or areas taking part in the scheme; and accept the terms and conditions of the scheme.

The app has prompted discussions in France as to what constitutes “arts and culture”, and whether tickets to blockbuster movies or downloads of critically-acclaimed video games should be included.

Yet, the app’s creators have said that it will favour offers to a wide variety of activities - including”high” and “low culture” and those from smaller operators.

It will aim to provide a diverse and new experience to users, rather than using an algorithm to simply suggest similar options to those bought before, creators said.

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