[Villa Arson] Franck Riester Visit

Last Friday we learned in an article published by Nice Matin that students from Villa Arson had tried to interfere with the visit of their school by the Minister of Culture Franck Riester. Here is their version of the facts:

Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 4:18 pm, we, students of Villa Arson, receive the following email:


To mark his visit to Nice, as part of the city’s application for UNESCO World Heritage listing, Franck Riester, Minister of Culture, will visit Villa Arson on Friday, March 29 from 10 am.

After a Republican greeting on the entrance court, the Minister will be invited to discover the establishment, starting with the current exhibitions and then visiting the studios.

This tour in the Villa’s spaces will be an opportunity to exchange with members of the establishment’s community.

Be thanked in advance for your presence and for the welcome you will give him.

With kind regards

Sylvain Lizon”

We meet that same evening, and decide to wear banners to welcome the Minister of Culture Franck Riester. On these banners were written students’ demands, with the freedom for everyone to write what they wanted. It stated: “We will never be a profitable company”– “We will not pretend that everything is fine” – ” Reassessment of the status of teachers/technicians ” – “We want a director of studies and a technical manager” – “Macron resignation”; no to “increase tuition fees”, no to “merging with the university”, no to the “reduction or stagnation of budgets”, no to the “privatization of public education”, no to the “cancellation of teacher and technician training”.

Friday, March 29, 2019 at 10am we met in the Bosco garden, at the entrance of Villa Arson. The director asked us if we had planned something, while at the same time urging us to disperse. We stay.

Franck Riester, Christian Estrosi, the deputy prefect and the minister’s advisers arrive. We release the banners. They pass silently in front of us. We are also silent. Franck Riester greets us. The delegation moves on to the entrance of the building. We follow them quietly. The ministerial procession enters the main hall to the sound of a few “Macron resignations” chanted by students. The doors close, blocked by the police, preventing us from entering. We go around the building to access it again.

When we arrive in the hall, police officers are preventing us from getting closer to the procession that then is visiting the art centre. Standing around the entrance hall we unfold our banners. The minister’s arrival triggers new “Macron resignations”. The procession no longer wants to go to the studios, as originally planned. If he does not engage in a dialogue, the minister prefers to shorten his visit. When we return to the garden, police officers try to tear off our banners. 

However, an initiative was launched by the professors to discuss with the Minister regarding some revaluations of their status and salaries. Thus, to facilitate this discussion, the students agreed to repack their banners and to disperse. Without any success, the minister’s departure was already decided. 

We learned a posteriori by a local media (Nice Matin) that the minister was initially supposed to receive high school students in our establishment. We have in no way blocked the access to the art school nor contested their coming, not being informed of it. 

We were not informed until 4:30pm the day before. We were therefore unable to consult each other, to go beyond banners and a silent demonstration. They ignored us and denied us access to the establishment to prevent us from expressing ourselves calmly and respectfully. They used our dissatisfaction as a pretext for their hasty departure, rather than to meet us together. 

Students from Villa Arson

External Links

Nice Matin
Quand les élèves d’une école d’art font capoter la rencontre entre un ministre et des lycéens niçois
31.03.2019 (French)

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