I was saddened to learn that the highly anticipated, new, national center for editorial cartoons in France was granted to the city of Paris, rather than the village of St. Just le Martel in the French countryside. Cartoonists from around the world have been writing letters and drawing cartoons, in support of St. Just’s bid for the new “Maison” or “House” of editorial cartoons, which will be a combination of a museum and center for events and lectures about “press cartoons.” St Just le Martel is the home of the only museum dedicated to editorial cartoons –and the home of a wonderful, annual “Salon” where international cartoonists have built friendships with a charming local community of fans that chose to support our profession decades ago. Clearly, what the world’s cartoonists wanted wasn’t important to the decision makers in France. I’m putting cartoonists’ protest cartoons at the bottom of the page. Scroll down.
French president Emmanuel Macron announced the selection of Paris this week. There isn’t any other nation with a national center for editorial cartooning, and our troubled profession should appreciate that anything is being built at all. Still, what should be a happy day is a sad day for us. The fear is that a much bigger and better funded “Maison” will overshadow our beloved Salon in St. Just le Martel.
Here’s a statement from our friends in St. Just le Martel, followed by a statement by my friend and CagleCartoonist, Pierre Ballouhey, who is the president of “France Cartoons,” the professional organization for cartoonists in France.
INTERNATIONAL CARTOONING CENTER – SAINT JUST LE MARTEL – France – Press Statement January 2022.
The management of the Center is stunned by the notification of French President Emmanuel Macron to refuse the implantation of the European Cartooning House in Limousin area. Paris localisation was prefered was preferred, even though the infrastructure already exists in Limousin, and had many advantages, of security, experience, and recognized legitimacy.
It is a feeling of contempt and injustice that prevails here at the Caricature Center among all the volunteers. Seeing over 40 years of investing in the defense of Freedom of Expression through the cartoonish swept away by political choice without any justification leaves you speechless.
This choice goes against all the announcements, all the considerable assets, know-how, memory, commitment of the population of Saint Just Le Martel and local elected representatives of Limousin, to defend what already existed since 1982.
It is also a slap in the face to the 250 cartoonists who every year are travelling in september to Saint Just Le Martel for the International Festival, and who where mobilized in their large majority in favor of this place of meeting and celebration of Freedom of Expression.
The management of the Center dispute this decision because it fundamentally contravenes the interests of this project, in particular through a decentralization supposedly promised in the general policy speech of the Prime Minister.
We contest this project, because it goes against the flow of cultural opening up, even though Saint-Just Le Martel is easily and quickly accessible being at 1 hour from Paris by plane, or 3 hours by train or road.
We contest this project, because it discredits and denies all the experience of organizing exhibitions, and the very strong link that binds the community of designers to the International Center of Saint Just Le Martel, with more than 2,500 partners through the five continents.
Finally, we dispute it, because it goes against all the previous investments, made jointly, by European funds, the state, the Region, the Department, the Municipality in 2011. All had testified to the recognition and legitimacy of this place to make it the sanctuary of the defense of Freedom of Expression through satirical drawing.
Here’s the call for cartoonists to submit drawings protesting President Macron’s decision, by France Cartoons’ president, Pierre Ballouhey.
The javelin was thrown by Macron and it was stuck in his feet. The famous Maison du Dessin de Presse et de la Satire will be in Paris, not in Saint-Just. One more cultural space in the Capital.
It’s a pity, the usual franchouillard jacobinism, a foot in the nose of decentralization, contempt for the regions.
Disappointment for most of the cartoonists from all over the world who would have preferred Saint-Just-le-Martel-Limoges. They will continue to meet every autumn in their natural habitat of Limousin…
Send your drawings of disapproval and support to the Center [email protected]. They will be printed and exhibited in an event in Saint-Just, France-Cartoons will be represented by Placide.
Président de France-Cartoons
Here’s Pierre’s cartoon and more from some other disappointed cartoons. (Note that St Just le Martel is in an area that is known for its cows, and the Salon is represented by a cow mascot, “Justine”.)Pierre Ballouhey