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10.11.03

The Intermittents du Spectacle Strike Again

In case you missed it, an article by John Rockwell (Ground Zero and City Opera, a May-December Match, November 9) in the New York Times has made quite an impression on all sorts of arts-related people. The e-mail list (AMS-L) of the American Musicological Society (about to have its annual meeting this weekend in Houston), for example, was buzzing with indignation that a Bruce Springsteen album "has touched more people, and is better art besides, than a high-minded classical score like John Adams's 'On the Transmigration of Souls'." And Terry Teachout at About Last Night and Tyler Green at Modern Art Notes have been lamenting the decline in real arts coverage in the American mass media (see my related post on November 6, Popularizing the Arts).

As an antidote to this depressing state of affairs, here is my translation of the account of the latest action of the intermittents du spectacle in Paris. This is the union (another taboo word in the United States) of part-time workers in the performing arts, whose subsidies and insurance, which they have traditionally received from the French state, are on the block in the right-wing government's attempts to cut the budget (see posts on August 30, August 13, and July 30). These people still care very strongly about the arts and their livelihood in the arts, as this account (Des intermittents du spectacle se sont invités au JT sur France 2, November 11) in Le Monde makes clear:Intermittents du spectacle on France 2 News, November 10

Monday evening, part-time arts workers briefly interrupted France 2's television news program, presented by David Pujadas, and read a message to protest the reform of their unemployment insurance program, less than a month after an intervention on the set of TF1's program "Star Academy."

The workers came onto the France 2 television set brandishing signs behind the anchor, who decided to yield his seat to allow one of their spokespersons the time for a live statement. "We want a true reform negotiated with all those concerned. We want our proposals to be taken into account. We want a primetime televised debate between both sides on these questions," the spokesperson declared.

The spokesperson concluded by calling the part-time workers to demonstrate Thursday in front of the home office of Unedic in Paris, where a meeting is planned for that date between employers' organizations and unions to ratify the agreement protocol reforming the specific plan for payment to unemployed part-time arts workers. This protocol will then be submitted for final signature to the Minister of Social Affairs, Work, and Solidarity.

The part-time workers who had invaded the France 2 set loudly applauded the statement of their spokesperson and then left, allowing the news program to continue without further incident. "We apologize for this interruption; we chose to give the floor to the representatives of the part-time workers," explained David Pujadas to the viewers. About a hundred part-time workers had made a scene, on October 18, on the set of the entertainment show "Star Academy," in La Plaine Saint-Denis, requiring TF1 to suspend the transmission of its star show for two hours.
The story on this event from France 2 (Les intermittents s'invitent au 20H) includes a statement of condemnation from the television network's administration, and from Jean-Jacques Aillagon, Minister of Culture and Communication, who denounced the disturbance in a message: "This taking hostage of a television news program goes seriously against the principle of the freedom of information."

Maybe Terry Teachout should lead a band of bloggers into the offices of Time or onto the set of NBC News. The difference is that in France you would be welcomed by the anchor and in the United States you would be arrested. Not that the trend of elevated arts coverage being crowded out by the mass media cannot be observed in France, too. For example, the sexual memoir appears to be established as a new genre in France. The book by Catherine Millet (La vie sexuelle de Catherine M. is completely out of stock at Amazon.fr; the English translation by Adriana Hunter is still easily available), I noticed on my recent trip to Paris, has been made into a play (adaptation by Arnaud Bédouet) now at the Théâtre Fontaine, directed by Jacques Malaterre. Opinions are divided in France about whether or not this book can be taken seriously as literature (see the endorsement as a "must read" by blogger Parisiana on September 25). Now the inimitable Merde in France has sent up the latest sexual memoir, Warm Up by Bénédicte Martin, who has been compared to Henry Miller by Thierry Ardisson on his show Tout le monde en parle (the author was one of his guests on November 8). I love to read the slangy and sometimes grossly vulgar French text of Merde in France, which is not always really translated in the accompanying English text. (For example, "et tout le monde trouve une place dans son garage à bites" is much funnier than "and you drive her home.")

UPDATE:
Read about the group of intermittents who stormed France 2 in this article (Juliette dans la peau de David Pujadas) by Bruno Masi in Libération on November 12.

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