Mayor tells artists: 'Help with town's childcare or lose cheap rents'
Published 03/08/2015 | 02:30
The far-right Front National has angered artists and craft workers in a southern French town with plans to make them earn their government-subsidised rent by performing community chores, including looking after primary school children for free.
The anti-immigrant, Eurosceptic party, which controls several large towns after local elections, wants the arts workers in the Mediterranean port of Frejus to care for the children in exchange for subsidised rent.
"Let me put it simply," said David Rachline, Front National mayor. "The town largely finances the rents of a certain number of these ladies and gentlemen. They must give something back.
"There will be no more debate. Either it goes well and everybody takes part, or else I put a stop to this situation where we pay everybody's rent," he said at a meeting of the city council.
Mr Rachline wants the 15 artists to take part in educational activities for kindergarten and primary school children for an hour and a half when they finish their classes at 4.30pm.
The proposal has been met with outrage by the artists - among them leather workers, jewellery makers, painters, and graphic artists - who benefit from generous subsidies for their work spaces.
They pay €2.50 per square metre a month to rent studios in the old part of the popular tourist town, which is well below the market rate. "The city council wants to make us work for free, to look after children for nothing!" said Olivier Isselin, an art photographer who has a studio in Frejus old town.
Mr Rachline (27) is also a senator in France's upper house of parliament.