16th Annual Fête du Cercle d’Or - Alliance Française de Milwaukee
Speech by Consul General of France Vincent Floreani on the occasion of the 16th Annual Fête du Cercle d’Or of the Alliance Française de Milwaukee.
(Milwaukee, September 7, 2014)
My wife Christine and I are delighted to be with you today in Milwaukee for the 16th Annual Fête du Cercle d’Or of the Alliance Française. It is here with you, in this great City of Milwaukee, that I make my very first public appearance as new Consul General of France for the Midwest.
I would like first to thank Jim and Susie Wiechmann for hosting this event in their marvelous home and showing us their impressive collection of posters from Jules Cheret.
I would also like to thank the President of the Alliance Française, Mr. John Gaebler, its Executive Director, Mrs. Anne Leplae, and all the members of the committee involved in this special event today: Mary Emory, Mark Young, Mark Franke, and Valerie Hofmaier.
The Alliance Française of Milwaukee, is one of the most dynamic in North America. You show the different facets of French culture and “art de vivre” to all audiences. I am impressed by the wide array of programs you offer. It is remarkable how you have succeeded in diversifying your activities in order to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds.
French is spoken by 220 million people, in 55 countries across five continents. By 2050, this number will likely increase to 700 million. In the US for instance, there are over 2 million French-speaking people. The French language is the second most taught in American schools.
Wisconsin has a very rich French heritage as we can figure out by glancing at a map of the state. The first settlers were French fur traders and the first mayor of Milwaukee was Solomon Juneau, a Frenchman.
In that context, for nearly one century, the Alliance Française of Milwaukee has been playing a central role in the promotion of French language and Francophone cultures. Every day, you greatly contribute to connect French and American peoples and help to develop a mutual cultural understanding. That is why your work is so crucial to the continuation and development of the French-American friendship.
You also organize important events gathering the Francophile community.
Bastille Days is the biggest July 14th celebration in North America, attracting more than 200,000 visitors over a 4-day period.
Through special events such as the Beaujolais Nouveau or periodical gatherings such as Casse-croûte, Causeries du mardi, Film series or Table française, you create a festive environment to promote French culture and language.
For all these activities, you have developed a strong relationship with local community partners.
The Alliance Française de Milwaukee and the French Consulate in Chicago work hand in hand. Together, we want to foster a greater understanding between peoples, we want to bring together American and Francophone cultures.
I would just like to mention three examples of our close partnership:
First, the webinars series Marianne Midwest, a project developed by the Cultural Services of the Consulate the consulate, the University of Chicago and about ten audiences throughout the Midwest to promote debates on contemporary topics;
Second, the French Art Discovery Midwest Network that aims at creating a website for teachers of French highlighting the very rich French collections of the Midwest museums;
Third, the participation of students of the Alliance Française de Milwaukee to the Fête de la Science last year, a science festival organized by our Office for Science and Technology in Chicago.
I am personally and strongly in favor of this kind of projects which help to develop new synergies, share best practices and maximize the potential of our cultural network.
None of these achievements would be possible without your outstanding dedication and generous contributions that perfectly illustrate this ideal of cultural exchange and French-American friendship./.