The French government is proposing new American-style grants to promote private and corporate funding of the arts. "France is way behind other Western countries," said Francois Leotard, the minister of culture and communications. "It's time for the private sector to take the initiative." He has proposed bigger tax credits for companies supporting the arts and a system allowing the government to co-finance cultural activities with private companies or individuals. Corporate or private sponsorship of the arts in France amounted to only $60 million last year, Leotard said. By contrast, the government spent $5.3 billion promoting culture in 1986. The proposed French system of joint sponsorship, Leotard said, was the result of research he conducted in the United States, where 85% of all cultural projects are paid for by non-government funds. He said his proposal is crafted after the National Endowment for the Arts' program of matching and challenge grants.