Philanthropic ArsNova aims to facilitate access to music, cookery, arts and heritage for those who might not otherwise have this access.

“Excellence, humility, effectiveness and synergy.” Those are the words of Marie Rouvillois, the Executive Director of Philanthropic ArsNova, a charitable foundation which was created by Maison Taittinger this October. A first, but also a logical step for Vitalie Taittinger, the President of Maison Taittinger: “In our family, we’ve always had a sense of commitment coursing through our veins. My grandfather was the Mayor of Reims for almost 20 years, while my father has always been interested in political issues to serve the greater good.” Indeed it is the latter, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, who is entrusted with presiding over the charity. 

After graduating from French art school École Emile Cohl, Vitalie Taittinger was able to gain experience in the charitable sector by becoming the President of the Regional Contemporary Art Fund (FRAC) in Champagne-Ardenne then of the national FRAC network (Platform FRAC). “This inspired me to make use of the Champagne Taittinger brand’s profile and resources, so that we can take concrete action for people who don’t have access to art and culture.” When launching this initiative, she made the deliberate choice to keep the Maison Taittinger name separate from the charity. “Generosity doesn’t stop at our front door,” outlines Vitalie Taittinger, whose aspiration for Philanthropic ArsNova is to bring together, “a whole host of companies and major donors to support projects which we’ll build in collaboration with them and with those on the ground who will benefit from this work.” 

Philanthropic ArsNova : aimed at a wide audience 

The new charity will cover three areas: cookery, with the aim of promoting taste education, particularly among children; music, again with a view to making it more accessible by supporting outreach activities; and, finally, arts and heritage. For these endeavours, Philanthropic ArsNova will take up residence in La Belle enchantée, an Art Nouveau building on Boulevard Lundy in Reims, which was acquired by Maison Taittinger in 1950s and is set to open its doors to the general public very soon. “The venue has been designed to host exhibitions as well as to welcome artists in residence, who can be seen live at work and who will be able to share their creations with the public,” reveals Marie Rouvillois. “Our ambition is to welcome people who don’t usually visit cultural sites as well as to inspire the general public. We really want it to be a house that is open for and to others.” This is why a unique, adapted layout has been designed for the space, “to be both welcoming and immersive at the same time.” Musician Yuksek is already at work there, in the studio that has been kitted out for him. Other artists are set to join La Belle enchantée in due course. The programme’s focus on music has resulted in Maison Taittinger consolidating and extending its work with the Paris Opéra, “with a view to supporting outreach activities in particular.” Other cultural practitioners will receive assistance and the charitable fund is currently creating, “a mapping that allows us to identify those involved in our various fields of activity,” highlights Marie Rouvillois. For visual arts, priority will be given to showcasing private collections, “in particular, because what we’re looking for – in both our collector’s approach and in our ambition to make art available for everyone – is this intimate, personal connection at play,” promises Vitalie Taittinger. 

Joyful and fun

Activities to support heritage will benefit, “artistic heritage, first and foremost: stained-glass windows, statues and fountains, etc.” Last but not least, for the area of cookery, in addition to supporting various organisations that advocate taste education – particularly in the classroom (such as with the École Comestible, the French counterpart of the Edible Schoolyard) – the charitable foundation is hoping to implement an amazing initiative. Namely, calling on the services of a food truck to travel across France and offer cooking and tasting workshops on the road. The Taittinger International Culinary Prize will join the charity’s fold and, here too, projects will be targeted at specific audiences.

Alongside this, additional prizes will gradually be created in the two other areas of activity covered by Philanthropic ArsNova: music and arts and heritage. “What we really want to do through this charity is to make the things that played an integral part in our personal stories accessible to as many people as possible – this connection to art in general, to taste and, quite simply, to beauty. We would like all this to be joyful and fun. Because that’s what art and culture have added to our lives,” says Vitalie Taittinger.

La Belle Enchantée - Philanthropic ArsNova
“La Belle Enchantée” located on 44 Boulevard Lundy in Reims © Benoît Pelletier
Text : Cyrille Jouanno
Cover image : Luc Valigny