Francoise Gamerdinger

Monaco, a land of cultural encounters: Meeting with Françoise Gamerdinger

Published on April 11, 2024Updated on April 30, 2024

In 2019, Françoise Gamerdinger became Director of Cultural Affairs for the Principality of Monaco by princely decree. For over twenty years, she has worked passionately to promote a plural culture for all. It's a vision she shares with us as we take a look at some of the highlights of Monaco's cultural year. 

Monaco and culture: a great love affair? 

Françoise Gamerdinger: Yes, a great, long, beautiful love story. And in my opinion, a love story involves passion, trust and respect. These words describe the relationship between Monaco and culture, between Monaco and artists. A relationship that I think is reciprocal. Monaco has always welcomed, supported and attracted great artists. And conversely, artists have always been keen to showcase their art in the Principality. And a great love story also means beauty and a desire to work for the pleasure of the public. The desire to share the same vision of the future: because in a love story, you have to dare, and I believe that Monaco has always known how to dare, through its programming, its commissions and its acquisitions. It has always been important for the Principality to be part of this creative movement and to support creation and artists. And this has been the case since the 18th century, under Antoine I, Prince of Monaco and prince musician, who took great pleasure in bringing many French musicians to the Monegasque court. Later on, the whole of Monte-Carlo's creation was closely linked to artistic creation and to the desire of the Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer to develop a major cultural landscape for the public.

Ballet Monaco

 Music in Monaco - what a programme!  ! 

In addition to the two not-to-be-missed events, the emblematic Monte-Carlo Summer Festival and the Monte-Carlo Jazz Festival, the Principality vibrates to the rhythms of a rich and eclectic musical programme all year round. So many opportunities to enjoy exceptional concerts and shows in outstanding venues such as the Salle des Etoiles at Sporting Monte-Carlo, the Opéra Garnier Monte-Carlo and the Nouvelle Place du Casino. From international variety, pop, rock, electro and jazz to classical music and opera, there's something to suit every ear and every taste! 

Salle des Etoiles Monte Carlo Sporting Summer Festival

 Monaco still on the pace

 International stars, guitar heroes, jazz legends and disco stars... The Principality has always given a wonderful welcome to all the greatest artists on the music scene. Music and Monaco have a long and beautiful love affair, marked by exceptional concerts in legendary venues. It's a story that Monaco's Department of Cultural Affairs took the time to reveal behind the scenes in its exhibition Monaco On Stage - 100 years of concerts in Monaco.

Salle Garnier Monte-Carlo Jazz Festival 2018

Culture in Monaco will once again feature many highlights this year...  

Françoise Gamerdinger: Yes, starting with the stage of the Théâtre Princesse Grace Monaco, where an exceptional evening was organised on 27 March as part of World Theatre Day. We welcomed the actress Catherine Hiegel - honorary member of the Comédie-Française, editor's note - who was directed by Marcial Di Fonzo Bo on two texts by Jean-Luc Lagarce: ‘Les Règles du savoir-vivre dans la société moderne’ and ‘Music-hall’. And in between, an intermission during which the auditorium remained open, the curtain raised, allowing the audience to immerse themselves in the backstage world as the set was changed. Another major event will be the hosting of the Lascaux 3 travelling exhibition at the Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology in Monaco from spring 2024: a reconstruction of the famous prehistoric cave and a presentation of all the knowledge acquired since its discovery in 1940.

Alex Jaffray propose une masterclass de jazz à monaco

A few recurring and unmissable events too? 

Françoise Gamerdinger: Yes, like the Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo from 13 March to 7 April, and its many concerts, which are always eagerly awaited. This summer also saw concerts at the Palais Princier by the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kazuki Yamada. The orchestra will also be touring Japan from 25 May to 1 June. They will be our ambassadors in this beautiful country, where the band will be performing in six different cities. Another not-to-be-missed event is PhiloMonaco Week, in June 2024, organised by Les Rencontres philosophiques de Monaco, as well, of course, as the major Grimaldi Forum Monaco exhibition. A magnificent showcase this year devoted to the painter William Turner, whose works, as is often the case in Monaco, will be placed in dialogue with contemporary artists inspired by the British painter. We're always keen to create a dialogue between the arts and artists, and to bring together different eras. It's a way of taking the measure of the evolution of artistic creation, but also of the questioning of our societies.   

Rencontre Philosophique Monaco

 The Monte-Carlo Summer Festival, Monaco's summertime ‘high mass’ of music  

 Every summer, during the legendary Monte-Carlo Summer Festival, the Salle des Étoiles du Sporting and the Opéra Garnier Monte-Carlo become the preferred stages for the elite of pop music. Pharell Williams, Alicia Keys, Robbie Williams, Sting, Jeff Beck, Jamie Cullum and Pink Martini have written some of the most passionate musical pages of this key event in Monaco's cultural season. It always promises unforgettable concerts! 

Festival Printemps des Arts Monaco

Is it true to say that culture in Monaco means bringing together the arts, artists and audiences? 

Françoise Gamerdinger: Exactly. And it's with this in mind that this summer the Théâtre Fort Antoine will be offering a multi-disciplinary programme of family-friendly, cross-generational evenings combining music and theatre. What’s more, on 19 July 2024, the second edition of the Open Stage, Les Talents du Fort, will be held for young artists from the Principality, who will be invited to perform in a variety of artistic disciplines.


And a few dates for the autumn? 

Françoise Gamerdinger: That's right, because as well as the traditional European Heritage Days, this autumn will see the opening of an exhibition entitled Des ateliers aux ateliers, dedicated to the artist Michel Sima, a photographer who has spent many years photographing some of the greatest artists in their studios, such as La Ruche, the famous artists' residence in Paris. Between posed photos and photos of artists in action, creating... It's an opportunity for the public to see how important the studio is as a place of creation and inspiration. Artists will also be taking up residencies in the workshops on Quai Antoine I. An opportunity to talk about their work. It's a chance to plunge right into the heart of artistic creation, with workshops from the past and the present.

What do you want to focus on in terms of cultural policy?  

Françoise Gamerdinger: We want to make a strong commitment to helping young people discover the Principality's culture. And, in general, to place particular emphasis on digital communication. This will be done through social networks, such as our weekly "Heritage Mondays" programme, which is proving very popular, and also through the launch in autumn 2024 of a brand new Internet platform dedicated exclusively to culture, conceived and designed in collaboration with the DITN (Délégation Interministérielle de la Transition Numérique - Interministerial Delegation for Digital Transition).  

This is a new digital communication policy in the cultural field, which will involve all the major cultural institutions managed by the Department of Cultural Affairs. The aim of this platform is to centralise all the programmes on offer in the Principality at any given time, with the possibility for each of the programmers listed to carry out further research into their field of activity and, of course, to book online.

Art à Monaco

Preserving and promoting the national heritage is one of your missions. What are the major upcoming projects in this area?  

Françoise Gamerdinger:  Conservation, restoration, enhancement and the compilation of an inventory. These are the major heritage themes of Monaco's Department of Cultural Affairs. For example, we will shortly be undertaking a major restoration of the Vasarely fresco on the roof of the Rainier III Auditorium. A fresco entitled ‘Hexa Grace’, commissioned by Prince Rainier from Vasarely in honour of Princess Grace and created in 1979 all in enamelled lava stone. A magnificent work! On the inventory side, new software will enable us to manage our national collections more effectively. Finally, the third major project is the inauguration of heritage trails. The first will be inaugurated in the summer of 2024 and will invite the public to discover the cultural heritage of the Rock in Monaco-Ville. A cultural walk organised at the end of the afternoon, with the possibility of rounding off the tour with a drink or dinner on the heights of the Rock... Because gastronomy is also part of our heritage.

Statue en extérieur du Prince Rainier

Which Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer location do you particularly like?   

Françoise Gamerdinger: There are several, but if I had to name one in particular, I'd say the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo. It's a magnificent setting, and I particularly appreciate the touching sense of history that permeates its walls. Walls that talk! Like those in the Belle Époque room and the Eiffel glass roof... It is, of course, a highly professional venue, and one with which I work closely as part of the programmes I put together. It's a very popular venue for the artists I invite there. 

"It's a magnificent setting, and I particularly appreciate the touching sense of history that permeates its walls."

What does it mean to you to be the first woman to hold the post of Directress of Cultural Affairs? 

Françoise Gamerdinger: First of all, I hope I wasn't chosen because I'm a woman (laughs). I think it's important to understand that every profession is first and foremost a question of skills. And you call me 'Directress', but HSH Prince Albert II appointed me ‘Director of Cultural Affairs’ and I continue to be called 'Director' without it bothering me in the slightest. The important thing is to have trusted a woman and her skills, not to feminise the profession. And I insist on this. It seems to me that we often focus too much on these ‘cosmetic’ details. Personally, I'm quite amused by the term 'Director', because the most important is elsewhere.

Francoise Gamerdinger, directrice des affaires culturelles de la Principauté de Monaco
Piano Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo

How is this reflected in your cultural policy?  

Françoise Gamerdinger: It's a question of thinking of everyone, while bearing in mind that one generation can ‘bring along’ another. It seems to me that it's essential to nurture this link, to encourage the desire to discover, to share and to pass on knowledge to people of all ages. Perhaps it's a reminiscence of my first job, as I was a literature teacher for fifteen years. So you'll understand that arts education, particularly for young people, is particularly close to my heart. Hence my support for the Pavillon Bosio, Monaco's Higher School of Visual Arts, as well as the Prince Rainier III Academy of Music and Theatre and the Princess Grace Academy of Dance... These are our future artists. And as far as the public is concerned, it's important to arouse the curiosity of the very young by giving them something to think about, to imagine and, why not, by awakening their artistic desires. This seems to me to be a major challenge for the Department of Cultural Affairs. In general terms, the aim is to open up access to culture to as many people as possible by applying a pricing policy that is affordable for everyone. Just like the Spring Arts concerts, which are offered entirely free of charge. There should be no barrier to the desire to discover, see, listen and feel, whatever the age of the audience. 

You have stated: "A cultural policy means working on a daily basis to ensure that every generation can benefit from a cultural offering that best meets their expectations."

What is your fondest 'cultural' memory of Monaco?  

Françoise Gamerdinger: I would say the first edition of the F(ê)aites de la danse in 2017! Both the idea and the conception of the project orchestrated by Jean Christophe Maillot, Choreographer and Director of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo  - a whole night of dancing around the Place du Casino- were a real challenge. And I love a challenge! The atmosphere was extraordinary from late afternoon until early morning. A great memory! 

"A whole night of dancing around the Place du Casino was a real challenge. And I love a challenge!"
Fête de la Danse Monaco

What's your latest 'cultural' favourite?  

Françoise Gamerdinger: I have two. My last cultural highlight in the Principality was the ballet L'Enfant et les sortilèges, Maurice Ravel's work revisited by Jean-Christophe Maillot in 2023 for the Christmas festivities. This show was the culmination of a collaboration between all the cultural institutions: the Ballets de Monte-Carlo, the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, and the dance and music academies. For me, this is a successful cultural project. The union and reunion of all the talents of our Monegasque institutions, with the involvement of the younger generation. And because my job requires me to look at what's going on ‘elsewhere’, outside the Principality, I'd also like to mention the exhibition Fashion and Sports: From one Podium to Another, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. An exhibition that I found utterly delightful. It's an exhibition that, once again, speaks to everyone and shows just how closely sport and culture are intertwined.

Ballet L'Enfant et les Sortilèges Monaco

Let the party begin! 

From exclusive shows and brand new concerts to trendy evenings and major sporting events, from gastronomy to wine as well as philosophy... It's time to make a date so you don't miss out on any of Monaco's intense cultural programme. Mark your calendars! 

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