The Festival d’Avignon invites us to completely rethink the performing arts

As Tiago Rodrigues prepares to succeed Olivier Py as Director of the Festival d’Avignon, Deputy Director Paul Rondin discusses the major challenges ahead.

A thought Solidarity, Social and Environment: The conditions are dropped from the beginning and return throughout the meeting. Paul Rondin does not mince his words when it comes to evoking the successes and failures of the past nine years: “At the Avignon Festivalwe have a terrible responsibility: we model extremely for the profession. We have a kind of role model functionwhich is not always easy as our reputation exceeds our human resources. We don’t always manage to do everything we want.

“We have a kind of role model function.”

Paul Rondin

Deputy Director of the Festival d’Avignon

Rondin sees further: beyond the festivalit is an entire cultural sector struggling to reinvent itself economically and to change its organization, especially to reduce the impact on its own environment: “It takes a little imagination today for the entertainment economy to no longer work an outdated model. We need to reorganize our ways of working Both in production and in operation. Also reconsider the reception of the public. The performing arts sector as a whole has lost 20-30% of its attendanceCinema, 40%. It’s systemic!


decrease in cinema attendance

According to Paul Rondin, the performing arts sector as a whole has lost 20-30% of its attendance. Cinema, 40%.

The man attributes this terrible observation to the commercial logic of a sector which, like so many others, has integrated logic “Marketing” of neoliberalism: “With the festival we have been calling for a model of social and solidarity economy for a number of years. Our tools must serve the general interest. We should no longer see ourselves as a platform for selling products.” In his opinion Banking tools already exist (deliberations are ongoing with the Crédit Coopératif Foundation), but not the political will: “It will come because the subsidy system is no longer a bottomless pit.

Paul Rondin, Delegated Director of the Festival d’Avignon.
© Avignon Festival

reverse thinking

“We have to do less, but play more and play longer. Reopening our rooms to a new audience. Build fewer sets and use them better.”

Paul Rondin

Deputy Director of the Festival d’Avignon

That is real mind reversal must apply to all practices of the festival, from the transport of the audience to the life of the shows: “We’re walking on a lie“, he says of the number of performances per creation (4 on average in France). “You have to do less, but play more and longer. Reopen our spaces to a new audience. Build fewer sets and use them better.”

Rondin recalls that this evolution of the way of working was already at the heart of the projectOlivier Py nine years ago: “This is one of our mistakes, Olivier Py, Agnès Troly and I: We said we would make fewer creations, but we’ve been beaten by the media, programmers, and politicians who keep asking for more. We have to rethink: no longer asking the public to watch as many shows as possible, but to experience the festival under good conditionsto also take the time to visit an exhibition, a meeting, a debate. Let’s find alternative solutions instead of demanding more resources to keep doing what we’re already doing when it doesn’t work anymore.”

“Today it takes a bit of imagination for the entertainment economy to stop working on an outdated model.”

Paul Rondin

Deputy Director of the Festival d’Avignon

Left to right: Paul Rondin, Deputy Director, Olivier Py, General Manager, and Agnès Troly, Program Director.

Progress in small steps

Specifically, Rondin conjures up public transport – the main source of pollution for a festival like Avignon – which needs to be considered with local authorities and the OFF team, as well as bundling transport for sets and tours. But for Break the idea of ​​a show’s exclusivity and to make it shine more in France, a tacit agreement is needed between creators and the media: “There is a common reflection to be carried out, which must be implemented slowly. We’re a little above ground.”

“You have to create a modeling effect that drives others.”

Paul Rondin

Deputy Director of the Festival d’Avignon

But that has changed in ten years: “We act where we can, at our own level. The teams cycle, we use 100% green electricityFabricA will be transformed into an energy self-sufficient place. Among artists, we must stimulate and support individual reflection by systematically proposing alternative solutions. Olivier Py creates almost all of his sets from elements from other sets. We must respect the freedom of creation, but without doing anything. We will not kill any animal on stage for aesthetic reasons! The same applies to environmental decisions. You have to create a modeling effect that drives others.”

Ideas circulate horizontally within the team, concludes Paul Rondin: “The suggestions are numerous, at all levels collective and civic welfare, with one speaker per service and one person coordinating everything. Ten years ago that was unthinkable. We go ahead!

Accessibility and Culture: Meeting with Paul Rondin, Delegated Director of the Avignon Festival

The festival in a few figures

  • Budget for the 2022 edition: 17 Million Euros.
  • Know 45% own income.
  • 20% of the budget is allocated to the gradual replacement of the lighting system (LED).
  • The festival generates in between 60 and 100 Millions of euros in economic benefits per year.
  • A ticket costs between 10 and 40 euros (average: 25 Euro).
  • A festival-goer spends on average 20% for culture and 80% for the rest (accommodation, transport, food).

New practices and sustainable action.

Theatre: the great return of the Avignon Festival • FRANCE 24

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