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France crowd funding restorations

Jan. 11, 2013 at 8:45 AM

PARIS, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- French cultural institutions are turning to online crowd funding to raise money for monument restorations after budget cuts by the government, officials said.

Isabelle De Ternay, a manager at the Pantheon church in Paris, said officials at the 250-year building have turned to online fundraising to gather some of the $25 million needed to make restorations.

"There are major parts of the monument that are cracked and are falling," she said.

Philippe Belaval, chair of France's National Monuments Agency, said four public works are currently raising money using crowd funding: the Pantheon, the drawbridge at the Mont St. Michel in Normandy, a statue at the Carcassonne castle and a statue in the St. Cloud Park outside Paris.

"We've been getting get less money from the government, and with big needs, we have to experiment new ways of doing our job," Belaval said.

The agency expected to raise approximately $6,500 for the Pantheon restorations, but in two months, donors have contributed $79,000, some in increments as small as $5, Radio France Internationale reported Friday.

"There is really a very strong conviction that it is part of themselves, and that it is one of the elements that makes France distinct from other countries and other parts of the world," Belaval said.

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