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The view from Paris

In the aftermath of the Paris attack, French concert professionals are getting back to business. Allan McGowan examines what’s next for Le Bataclan and the industry.

11 Jan 2016

Little is being said publicly by France’s promoters or associations in the wake of the Paris attacks. As Jules Frutos, co-director of Le Bataclan told French daily newspaper Le Monde in an exclusive interview on 2 December, “In the days that followed, we refused interview requests as we did not want to add to the horror…The attack has already sufficiently been turned into a media spectacle.”

Frutos and co-director Olivier Poubelle own 30% of Le Bataclan, which is majority owned by media conglomerate Lagardère. Also speaking to Le Monde, Poubelle talked about the aftermath of the attack. “Seventy people work in our companies,” he said. “All go to the Bataclan, the largest venue. Our role is to talk to the team. The team needs it, and so do we. But when some people don’t wish to talk, we stay silent. There is a great modesty. Everyone does what he can with this violence. Many have not wanted to speak publicly. They are tight-knit, embrace each other, eat lunch together all the time. It’s difficult to explain this solidarity… There are those who took care of the injured, those who saw death and horrible things, but continue to work without putting themselves forward.”

“Our team forms a family. There is nothing else to do than to try to support them,” added Frutos.

The French live music market is typically a buoyant one. According to figures by CNV, the business in 2014 was worth €746million, with a turnover of between €1.3billion and €1.9bn. Over 60,083 events were staged, with an average ticket price of €32.

In the days following the attack, French promoters, festivals and venues association Prodiss reported that ticket sales plummeted 80%, with 20-25% no-shows at venues in the city. “Four weeks later, attendance has come back to near normal,” says Prodiss’ communications director Aline Renet. “This no-show ratio is normally around 2 to 10% depending on shows. The live market is very dynamic in France, and diverse. The Parisians showed clearly their will to ‘culturally resist’ in continuing to attend shows. Art and culture is fully part of our DNA.”

Speaking to Le Monde of the return to normal levels of ticket sales, Poubelle said, “Before the attacks, contemporary music was the poor relation of culture, much less recognised than classical music, cinema and museums. Now, people say that contemporary music is more than culture. It’s the symbol of youth and a generation. This recuperation is quite optimistic.”

“Figures are now going back to near normal (-20-25% during the week of 14 December) and the professionals are expecting sales back to normal in the next few weeks,” comments Renet. “Some shows on sale this same week sold-out quickly, notably for international acts or popular French acts.” While ticket sales are recovering, Renet also comments that security measures in French venues have, understandably, been stepped up.

“Straight after 13 November, security staff were increased and they worked closely with police departments. Organisations such as Prodiss worked together with the government to enable a very quick deployment of security measures. An audit is also currently taking place in order to upgrade security, adapted to the needs of the diversity of venues we have and the events taking place.”

Any upgrading of security measures in French venues will undoubtedly carry a price tag, but Renet says that consumers should not be affected. “Public and fans will not suffer from ticket increase. We lobby for some help from the government,”she says.

But what fate belies Le Bataclan now? Speaking to Le Monde, both Frutos and Poubelle want to see its doors reopen, hopefully before the end of 2016. “Jules and I headed Bataclan for 12 years and we want to reopen together, with the team, which also wants the reconstruction and none of them wishes to leave,” said Poubelle. “The five permanent staff, for now, are working at Astérios, my show production

company. The 20 temporary staff who worked at Le Bataclan will stay in our ‘galaxy’ and continue to work in music. On Facebook, thousands of testimonies are calling for us to reopen. Reconstruction is an objective that helps us to keep going. We need it.”

“It is too early to precisely say, added Frutos. “We are not a commercial property like others. We feel ‘dead’ right now… But we are in need of life. It is necessary to see the doors open.”

The full ‘Le Monde’ interview with Jules Frutos and Olivier Poubelle can be read online at www.lemonde.fr