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French sector faces ‘slow and difficult recovery’

French live association Prodiss is warning the sector must face up to a “slow and difficult recovery” from the pandemic, amid a mixed season for the country’s festivals so far.

Earlier this month, Live Nation France bosses hailed a stellar year for the returning Main Square Festival, which attracted a record 150,000-strong crowd over four days, while Les Francofolies de La Rochelle pulled in 280,000 visitors in five days and Hellfest reported 420,000 fans over seven days.

However, others such as the four-day Aluna Festival, which drew 65,000 people overall, were less satisfied with their summer’s business. “We’re going to be in a financial deficit, it’s depressing,” founding president Jean Boucher told Le Dauphine.

“When we say the festivals are resuming, we must not think that we have regained the growth of 2019 before the health crisis. This is not the case,” says Prodiss general manager Malika Seguineau, according to France 24.

“The number of festivals is crazy. Artists’ fees are rising and ticket prices have not increased”

The report cites now familiar problems for the business of over-supply, increased production costs and shortage of experienced personnel.

It adds that huge events such as Aluna, Hellfest, Solidays in Paris and an Iron Maiden concert at Paris La Defense Arena were all held around the same time in late June, with a similar situation arising this past weekend with the Francofolies, Vieilles Charrues Festival, Lollapalooza Paris and and Coldplay at Stade de France.

“The French have changed their behaviour,” notes Seguineau. “They buy tickets very late saying to themselves, ‘If I have the Covid, I will have to cancel,’ and they also sometimes already have three postponed shows in their hands.”

“The number of festivals is crazy,” says Francofolies boss Gérard Pont. “Artists’ fees are rising and ticket prices have not increased.”

Seguineau, who set out a mission statement for the post-pandemic recovery of France’s live music sector earlier this year, adds that Prodiss will “take stock in September” to “reflect on an economic model perhaps at the end of a cycle”, and suggests the industry needs more external support than it is currently receiving.

“We are not asking to live on a drip, but we are saying we need a stronger CNM [Centre national de la musique] to respect its commitment to develop structuring support programmes, to help us take risks.”

 


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Prodiss: ‘Everybody hopes for a lasting recovery’

Prodiss general manager Malika Seguineau has set out a mission statement for France’s live music industry as it attempts to return to rude health after two years of restrictions.

Since mid-February, all concerts in the country have been permitted to go ahead without capacity limits, with the requirement to wear masks dropped at the end of last month for people with vaccine passports. Prime minister Jean Castex said the pass could even be suspended if the Covid-19 situation improved dramatically.

Speaking of the sector’s “deep relief” and “enthusiasm”, Seguineau expresses her hope for a sustained resurgence for the industry, but advises it will be necessary to rebuild customer confidence over the coming weeks and months.

“These circumstances are happy for our sector, and for all French people,” she says. “For two years , the latter mainly lived their cultural experiences at a distance. It is high time to rediscover the ‘sense of reality’, to return in real life to theatres, concerts and festivals.

“All the professionals with whom I interact daily have told me of their deep relief and their enthusiasm. Everyone hopes, this time, for this lasting recovery.”

The live music association previously told the French government “words of support can no longer be enough” after Covid measures were re-imposed on the performing arts sector amid the Omicron surge late last year.

“Since the reopening, we have seen a feverish public, who need to be reassured, or who have lost their habits”

Prodiss united with fellow cultural organisations SMA, SCENES, SNDTP, CAMULC, FESAC and Tous Pour La Musique to denounce the “stigmatisation” of live performance since the onset of the crisis

Seguineau elaborates on how the stop-start nature of the past 24 months has placed a tremendous strain on event organisers.

“For two years , they have been doing and undoing,” she says. “They lived to the rhythm of the incessant ‘stop-and-go’ of a crisis that had become structural and systemic and which for a long time prevented any visibility of the future.

“After two years , we have the obligation to rethink ourselves: to be and to be reborn. To gather again and find a new dynamic. But this will first and foremost involve re-instilling confidence in the public.

“The entire sector was widely stigmatised in public debate during this period, weakening an entire ecosystem and an entire economy. Today, the reflexes are still far from having returned. Since the reopening, we have seen a feverish public, who need to be reassured, or who have lost their habits.

“This will be one of the many projects that we still have to carry out to fully find ourselves, vibrate again, share moments of communion and rebuild this emotional link.”

 


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