France launches Heritage Lotto to finance architectural heritage restoration

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted the signing of an agreement between the French Ministry of Culture, represented by Minister Francoise Nyssen and the French Heritage Foundation (Fondation du Patrimoine) represented by its president, Guillaume Poitrinal, relative to the use of government funds that will be generated by a new lottery known as the Heritage Lotto. Signatories also included Stéphane Bern (popular history & heritage Radio and TV show host) and Stéphane Pallez, CEO of ‘Française des Jeux,’ France’s national lottery authority. In the next three years or more, the drawing of the Heritage Lotto will take place during the European Heritage Days and proceeds will go to the French Heritage Foundation and will be earmarked for the restoration of architectural treasures throughout France. The inaugural drawing will be on September 14, 2018 one day before the European Heritage Days (Journées Européennes du Patrimoine) to be held September 14 and 15, 2018. A scratch-off game will also be offered.

Last September, the French President enlisted Stephane Bern’s assistance in identifying and listing France’s imperiled architectural heritage and help find novel ways to finance their restoration. One of these solutions was to create a new lottery, which was voted into law on December 28, 2017. The French National Lottery estimates that the Heritage lotto will raise between 15 and 20 million Euros. Additional funding managed by the French Heritage Foundation will include corporate sponsoring and crowd funding.

Stephane Bern will head the committee that will select among the 1800 restoration projects inventoried by the French Heritage Foundation and by the French Ministry of Culture that will receive financial aid from the special fund. Applications for funding are taken online by the Ministry of Culture and assessed by both organizations. The projects are both public and private and will represent the diversity and historical periods of France’s architectural heritage: rural, residential, religious, industrial, funereal, military, relating to gardens and public areas.