The first contemporary art centres made their appearance in France in the '70s as places for the making and dissemination of contemporary art. They have a special relationship with creation by living artists and keep in close touch with the current scene. Originally venues for experimentation and creation, they diversify into annual programmes of exhibitions, publishing and outreach towards the broadest possible public. They work as homing devices, with independent programming and real responsiveness.
In lots of cases artists have their early exhibitions thanks to contemporary art centres, before their work finds its way into the national and regional art collections, Fnac, Frac, museums, private collections and foundations.
There are contemporary art centres all over France and they've given new audiences the chance to encounter the art of their time.
d.c.a is a non-profit association and since it was set up in 1992 it has helped network and federate France's contemporary art centres, with their different statuses and programming approaches. The 50 current d.c.a members are very diverse in terms of their history, size and geographical and social context. The majority receive public-sector subsidies from the various regional cultural affairs offices (Drac) and départements, urban communities and cities; most are non-profit associations, although some are directly managed by their region, département or municipality. Their fields of activity vary according to their financial means and whether they're in town, in the suburbs or in the country.
What we at d.c.a want to do is make the public aware of the creative richness of contemporary art and today's cultural projects. We use artistic exchange as a basis for collaborations, coproductions, joint publishing ventures and national and international partnerships.