But what happened on June 22nd, the day the cultural venues in Paris (which became a green zone on June 15th) reopened, there were so few shows, almost no songs? Even more astonishingly, it was the same for the first part of July.
It's surprising when you know that Paris is the cultural capital of the world, far ahead of London and New York. Le Prodiss, the national union of producers and presenters of live performances, is campaigning for the closure of cultural venues for as long as possible (sometimes referring to November 2020) as long as the structures benefit from a system of aid. We think we're dreaming.
Rarely has so little representation from the arts world been made by artists. Fortunately the Prodiss who boasted that Bercy took him seriously was not heard. Neither by Bercy, nor by the Prime Minister who decreed a reopening of the cultural places from June 22nd (with certainly at first precise sanitary conditions). The signal sent by the government was clear: "Open your rooms as soon as possible because we will not be able to help you (as much as you hope)". A signal sent at 2 p.m. on 12 June, so that cultural professionals would not cry and say that they were caught short, that they had no time to prepare and that they would need help with the transition.
Let's stop for a moment: throughout the containment, restaurateurs who did not make deliveries regularly went to their workplaces to clean, polish, sweep, etc., and they were not allowed to make deliveries. The same goes for hairdressers, opticians, antique dealers, the list is long of entrepreneurs who did not give up despite the mountains of financial worries and who prepared for the post-confinement period. The restaurant unions put all their weight behind opening as soon as possible and without the four metres. In the end, they were the ones who gave the 'the': that life had to start again and put an end to paranoia. No, just because you get the coronavirus on Friday doesn't mean you'll die on Monday. The attitude of one Jerome Solomon did not help matters: to say on the one hand that most people get better and to give the number of dead every day was unconscious, let's face it.
Why did the theatre management in most cases not prepare for the post-confinement period? Why did a whole milieu decide that things would resume in September? Who decided that? For what purpose? And why would September be the right time?
And that's where we enter the darkest, most troubled part of the Parisian cultural milieu, even the French one. Where halls that receive subsidies thought they were entitled to play the "good students" by postponing concerts until March 2021, just to be sure of obtaining new subsidies next year.
It is also true that some theatres with a particular configuration cannot open under the best conditions, even in a transition phase, and prefer to remain closed rather than lose money. But the entertainment industry is heterogeneous and not all theatres operate in the same way. We can see that even emblematic venues such as the Forum Léo Ferré remain closed.
Professionals often refer to artistic seasonality to justify opening in September. What meaning can seasonality have in 2020 when 40 % of the French do not go on holiday? When the relationship between work and free time is undeniably changing. Then they evoke people's fear. Of course, many people are still not comfortable with the idea of going to closed places. But then again, others are just asking for it. We don't see why some people should be afraid of others.
We could list as many inconsistencies in the attitude of the venues, the turners, the programmers, but also of some of the artists: some of them are normally quick to shout just ". Macron resignation "behaved very docilely ... like most yellow jackets by the way; fear of death, what do you ...
Basically, this self-censorship-like timidity of the cultural milieu is the result of a lack of courage. Quite simply. That's what happens when art is run as a state enterprise, with forms to be filled in, etc. Where programmers, directors and other directors are chasing the anointing of the government.
Here, strangely enough, the government has never said, formulated, decreed that culture should resume in September. The Ministry of Health, the day after the Prime Minister's speech on May 28, reminded professionals who wanted to resume: one seat out of two for single spectators, families/groups/couples side by side. Masks are mandatory in small venues. If this is not the solution of the century, it is however a correct compromise adapted to a transitional phase, knowing also that these conditions are likely to be relaxed even more quickly in two or three weeks time. Despite this, entertainment professionals are proclaiming to anyone who will listen that the government is maintaining the vagueness. Why is that?
Meanwhile, the Théâtre de l'Ouest in Rouen has successfully reopened its doors. The same goes for the Dairy in Strasbourg (momentarily), the Appart-Café in Bourg-les-Valence. In Paris, the Comédie Nation (with Arnau D and Jassa, covers), the Comédie Oberbkampf, the Comédie du 11ème, the Atelier du Verbe (with Jann Halexander, sold out, additional date June 29, song), the Bourvil and the Sunside opened on June 22. They can be counted on the fingers of one hand and they are told: respect!
" If I have to take a little risk to do my job as an actor in front of an audience, let me take the fucking risk. "The words of actor Philippe Torreton on France Info are strong, accurate and important. Art is not a hobby of bourgeois for bourgeois. And we agree with him when he says that the Avignon Festival could have been maintained. Many festivals could have been maintained - if the Parc Astérix and the Puy du Fou could reopen.
Fear, fear, fear ... it is a terrible fear that has made our fellow citizens sometimes the living dead, sometimes informers and too often obstacles. It should be noted that Philippe Torreton also gives the 'la' by playing at the Jacques Brel theatre in Fontenay-sous-Bois in 'Nous y voilà'. Thanks to him and to the theatre, of course.
Below you will find our links, including the remarkable background work of the song medium Nos Enchanteurs (a reference) which lists all the concerts that cover. It is a work of public utility.
With the widespread lack of courage - and we assume this term - the French cultural world, which has often aroused respect, envy, admiration and jealousy, gives a very bad signal to the rest of the cultural world. For African, Russian and Chinese artists, who have been struggling to bring their art to life in conditions that are difficult to imagine for too long (wars, disease, suffering economies, corruption, dictatorship, etc.), it is simple: culture is no longer a lighthouse.
Luc Melmont, Editor of 'Culture and Song' and 'Black and Métis Song'.
The original of this article was published on the site Culture and song - With our thanks to the author.
Header photo The Cour d'Honneur of the Popes' Palace Avignon Festival - Photo Wikipedia