TikTok unleashes cultural venues to the masses during France’s lockdown

AGENCY – With France’s theatres and museums shut down since October 30, TikTok’s local office has launched its first live programme of cultural events in partnership with prestigious institutions such as the Versailles Palace, the Chaillot Theatre, the Army Museum and the Cinematheque Francaise.

The roster of events, all of which are reimagined for and viewable on TikTok, kicked off on December 14 under the hashtag #CultureTikTok. They showcased an exhibit about legendary French comedian Louis de Funes at the Cinematheque; a tour of the Picasso Museum; an original show at the Chaillot Theatre of National Dance; the Cite Internationale de la BD et de l’Image (Comic Book Museum); a tour of Versailles Palace, including the famous Glass Gallery; the Quai Branly Museum; and the Army Museum, which hosts the tomb of Napoleon.

The initiative has been spearheaded by Eric Garandeau, former president of the National Film Board (CNC), who joined TikTok as manager of public affairs in France earlier this year.

“We encourage our cultural partners to be purist and go for quality first: each event lasts about an hour and is presented by an expert on the subject to give people exclusive access to these high-profile places,” said Garandeau.

“Inside Versailles Palace, for instance, we’re being guided by its scientific director, Mathieu da Vinha, who shows us the mythical Glass Gallery, the apartments of King Louis XIV and the Queen, and debunks every big myth,” said the executive, who had his first novel Tapis Rouge, published in 2019 and whose upcoming second book will focus on the history of Versailles and Venice in the 17th and 21st centuries.

“Culture in France, like in many countries, has been on lockdown, and our mandate at TikTok is to unleash it,” said Garandeau. TikTok isn’t paying these cultural venues for the events; both TikTok and the venues are instead leveraging the significant exposure afforded at a crucial time. Versailles Palace gained 10,000 followers in 30 minutes, and the Chaillot was amazed by the volume of visitors, said Garandeau.