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Update on the Intermittents

As reported last week, the strikes and demonstrations of the intermittents du spectacle, arts specialists who may not work year-round, have been threatening the summer festival season in France again this year. After several cancellations of performances or entire festivals in June, all eyes were on the big two French festivals, in Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, both set to open this week. The latest signs are positive, in that the collectives of the intermittents gathered in both places have voted against a total shutdown of both festivals. Unfortunately, this does not mean that either festival is going to take place without a hitch, since actions of various kinds are inevitable. Denis Gravouil, a union leader, promised that "the Avignon Festival will not take place calmly," renewing calls for major demonstrations this Friday and even predicting that we may see the festivals become "intermittent" themselves, "with cancellations or performances on a case-by-case basis." Olivier Py, director of the Avignon Festival, again pleaded his case that "sacrificing the Avignon Festival would serve no one's interests." The intermittents have made clear, however, that Aurélie Filippetti, the Minister of Culture, and other members of the government will not be welcome in Avignon, putting the festival in an awkward position. It will indeed be, in the words of a spokesperson for the intermittents, "un festival militant."

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