Has Laurent Wauquiez decided to go to war with the green town halls in his region? In quick succession, the former boss of LR announced the end of subsidies from the town hall of Grenoble, after the authorization voted on Monday for the wearing of the burkini in the swimming pools of the city, and a drastic drop in aid to cultural institutions. Lyon, two communities managed by elected Greens. The reduction in subsidies in the metropolis of Lyon would currently reach two million euros. Minus 500,000 euros for the opera, minus 350,000 euros for the Villa Gillet, minus 180,000 euros for the Maison de la danse.

“An absurd measure which demonstrates that the regional executive has no cultural policy”, criticized the mayor of Lyon, Grégory Doucet. The elected EELV denounced “a hostage-taking by far-right behavior” on the part of Laurent Wauquiez. “All the regimes that wanted to establish authoritarian operations started by attacking artists and culture,” he said.

Contacted, the region assumes “a rebalancing” of its culture budget “which is not going to move” and will remain at 60 million euros. “Today, most of our commitments benefit cities. This represents approximately 60% of the culture budget. In Lyon specifically, our cultural commitments per inhabitant are more than three times higher than the regional average”, confides a close friend of the regional president. From now on, the community wishes to operate “by projects” to which “all the institutions, including those in Lyon, will be able to respond”.

Laurent Wauquiez’s entourage assumes to put an end to “a form of rent” from the major Lyon institutions. “Sometimes the structures consider that the subsidies are a bit automatic and do not do what is necessary to register beyond Lyon. We want to bring culture to white or gray areas. I remember the slogan of the left when I was young: “Culture everywhere and for everyone.” That’s what we do. ” According to an elected LR: “The region spends 17 euros per inhabitant and per year in Lyon against 1.50 euros in Cantal, for example. »

But between Rhône and Saône, the pill does not pass. “There has been no exchange with local actors from the region, points the finger at Cédric Van Styvendael, mayor of Villeurbanne and vice-president in charge of culture for Greater Lyon. Laurent Wauquiez is perfectly legitimate to make budgetary choices, but they must be made in consultation with local actors around a table based on figures. There, no one was informed. “Difficult for the elected PS to see anything other than a political choice on the part of the president of the region. “I actually find it hard to believe,” he says. However, when we remember the 2016 recording unveiled by Mediapart where we hear him say that he does not “intend to water” Villeurbanne because his party is doing badly there, my doubts arise. increase. The region is not a supreme arbiter that says, “That’s good. That, no.” It opens a terrible precedent. French capital of culture in 2022, the city of Villeurbanne has not yet received any aid from the region.

Since taking office in 2015, Laurent Wauquiez has never ceased to have a complex relationship with the city of Lyon and its local cultural actors. Copiously booed by the audience during his first steps at the Festival Lumière in 2016, the regional president would never set foot there again. There followed a war of position with the town hall of Lyon for the takeover of the Museum of Fabrics located in the heart of the city. A project costing between 50 and 60 million euros, against 10 million initially, which many see as a Trojan horse of the region in the capital of Gaul. “With the money that this museum costs, I understand that it wants to save money,” quips the former mayor of Lyon Georges Képénékian. More recently, Laurent Wauquiez pulled off a coup by illuminating the Basilica of Fourvière at the expense of the region (1.6 million euros) during the Festival of Lights period.

Skirmishes which demonstrate that the president of the regional council has not abandoned the territory of Lyon, but that he wishes to engage in it differently. “Laurent Wauquiez wants significant returns on investment and only commits to projects for which he will bear the signature,” continues Gérard Collomb’s former cultural assistant. He added, “He’s a political animal three heads above anything in the area. When he sees a breach, he rushes into it. A reference to the decision of the town hall of Lyon in March 2021 to lower the subsidies of the Opéra de Lyon by 500,000 euros per year. “At the time, the mayor of Lyon said that he was rebalancing the structures of the territory. This is exactly what Laurent Wauquiez says today. In one case, it is problematic, but not in the other visibly, ”ironically Pierre Oliver, municipal councilor in Lyon and regional councilor.

Still, these brutal and unconcerted cuts will weaken certain institutions and jeopardize others. This is the case of the Tony-Garnier urban museum which could quickly close down. “Laurent Wauquiez wants to go fast and strong, but sometimes he gets confused, carried away by his momentum. There, I think that’s the case, “concludes Georges Képénékian. The case should not remain Lyon-Lyonnaise. The regional directorate of cultural affairs has been contacted and the file is already carefully monitored at the level of the Ministry of Culture.