Towards the middle of the 20th century, two emblematic landmarks in the vicinity of Aix-en-Provence, in the southeast of France, were given by the family d’Estienne de Saint-Jean, to the city of Aix and to the French State respectively:
- The Domaine du Grand Saint-Jean, in Puyricard, where, notably, since 1998, the Festival International d’Art lyrique has been held every July, hosting opera and musical performances. It is also the home to the Centre Permanent d’Initiatives pour l’Environnement, an organisation focused on promoting sustainable development.
- The Hôtel d’Estienne de Saint-Jean, located at 17, rue Gaston Saporta in the old city centre of Aix-en-Provence.
Jean-Pierre d’Estienne d’Orves, grandnephew of the patrons, and his wife, Catherine d’Estienne d’Orves, initiated the creation of an endowment fund, the ‘Fonds de dotation d’Estienne de Saint-Jean’ (FDESJ).
The FDESJ is governed by the French act of 4th August 2008, declared to the Prefecture of Bouches-du-Rhône and registered in the official journal of 27th October 2012.
Established in October 2012, the objective of the FDESJ is to contribute, both at a national and international level, in cooperation with public authorities, to the prestige and to the development of these two important sites of heritage which, in the 16th century, belonged to François d’Estienne de Saint-Jean, president of the Parliament of Provence. Queen Catherine de Medici, kings Charles IX, Louis XIII and Louis XIV were among the illustrious visitors of Grand Saint-Jean.
Included in its objectives is the development of high-level cultural events, particularly in relation to the creative arts, music, sustainable economy and sciences.
These funds are managed by a board composed of the founders as well as French national and international representatives.
The honorary committee of the FDESJ consists of Canadian art historian Prof. Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov, William Christie, member of the Institute and conductor, Bernard Foccroulle, director of the Festival of Aix and Erik Orsenna, writer and academic.
The board operates in close cooperation with the city of Aix-en-Provence and the French State (the owners of these sites), the community of Pays d’Aix, the Festival International d’Art lyrique and various different departments of the State, in particular those concerned with historic monuments, heritage and environment.
For tax purposes, individual donations received by the fund are eligible to a tax reduction equal to 66% of the amount paid, capped at 20% of taxable income. Two types of support are available:
- donors of a contribution of 100 euros minimum and
- benefactors from 1000 euros. Companies benefit from a 60% reduction in the limit of 5 per 1000 of turnover.