We have been following the actions of the intermittents du spectacle this summer. The group of arts and television workers, who are protesting the loss of government-paid unemployment insurance that supports them during periods between gigs, has been disrupting performances at summer arts festivals in France. While the fallout has not been as disastrous as the last time they had a major strike, in the summer of 2003, the disruptions have been significant. In an article (En cas de grève, les festivals ne sont pas assurés, July 14) for Le Monde, Anne Michel reports that the cost of cancellations at these festivals will fall on the organizers, who are not insured against such losses (my translation):
Already strong, the pressure on the summer festivals was increased, after the day of national strikes by the intermittents on Saturday, July 12. Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, les Francofolies de La Rochelle, les Vieilles Charrues, à Carhaix-Plouguer… Everywhere, the partial or total cancellation of performances is feared. Because beyond the arguments about the movement drawing attention to its cause, and the solidarity expressed without reservation by all the festival directors toward their artistic and technical workers, the blocking of a play or a concert is above all a matter of money. One must reimburse spectators, pay workers who are not on strike, cover the costs of transport, of lodging, of food. So, after an investigation that we conducted with these festivals, it appears that none of the major summer presenters is insured against strike actions, just as Olivier Py, director of the Avignon Festival, claimed at the beginning of July.The figures amassed so far because of the cancellation of performances amounts to 138,500 euros so far at Avignon; 500,000 euros at Le Printemps des Comédiens in Montpellier; 40,000 euros at Montpellier Danse. For the festivals that had to cancel their entire season, Uzès Danse and Cratère Surfaces, in Alès, the figures are not yet known. Armelle Heliot also reports, for Le Figaro, that audiences at Avignon are "not as large as previous years," perhaps because of worries about cancellations.