5.12.2006

While You Were Busy Hating the French…

…France was busy helping us out and not acting like third graders:
Lebovics enumerated the ways in which France has come to the aid of New Orleans, including sending tons of food and supplies, a team of divers to help assess and repair damage to the port, and funds to reopen bilingual-immersion schools where young teachers from France, on loan to Louisiana, have for thirty years taught what Lebovics called “French French.”

The French Minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, was the first foreign dignitary to visit New Orleans after the storm, and the government quickly decided that France could be most useful in helping to preserve the city’s artistic attributes. A “solidarity” concert in Paris raised money for musicians; the Louvre, the Georges Pompidou Center, and the Musée d’Orsay are planning a major exhibition of French art at the New Orleans Museum of Art early next year. And the French government raised a million dollars for Louisiana schools. The French are offering six-week residencies in France for artists displaced by the flood. “The idea is to offer them good conditions—lodging and a stipend, and contacts with people,” Lebovics said. “A fresh oxygen.”
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