“The events that are maintained have created a breach, into which the government is engulfed”, deplores David Ambibard, programmer of the Chorus des Hauts-de-Seine and Jazz à la Défense festivals. “We will play this summer,” he says. But it will be less than 5,000 spectators and with many restrictions! The other festivals, those who do not wish to go towards this, could being criticized for not following a single line and seek to lobby the government. “
In the ocean of festivals and concerts, there are small and large fish, the former often feeding the latter. Since the early 90s, France has become a great land of festivals, often in the tradition of British models: Cabaret Vert, Eurockéennes, Main Square, Les Vieilles Charrues, Rock En Seine, Solidays, We Love Green, Beauregard, Garorock, La Route Du Rock, Transmusicales de Rennes, Hellfest, Interceltique de Lorient, the Alsace Wine Fair, Printemps de Bourges, Poupet …
In 2019, the touslesfestivals.com site counted more than 100 festivals attracting more than 15,000 people, adding that no less than 12% of French people had visited one of them, the Interceltic taking the lead with more than 800,000 festival-goers, in front of the Alsace Wine Fair (316,140), Les Vieilles Charrues (270,000) or Jazz In Marciac (250,000) …
Reduction of the tonnage … and of the risk
With an average turnover of 30 million dollars per year, it is the American Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival which holds the top of the paving the paving stones at the world level for 2019, last normal year for the festivals and concerts. Without going that far, we can easily guess that, even reduced to the market of festivals and major concerts of live music, the losses of the last two years are measured in the billions, and tens of millions for the French leaders alone. Therefore, a simple calculation makes it possible to understand that by limiting the tonnage and adding costs related to health security, dividing the number of spectators by ten or twenty makes a majority of events economically unfeasible.
In the short term, only those who, before the pandemic, already met the new standards put in place can get by. This has prompted some, such as the organizers of Vieilles Charrues or Francofolies, to get to the level of these mini-events.
Gerard Drouot, a major promoter and also supplier of artists for a number of festivals, is up against these giants which have become “light” festivals: “They accepted the drastic conditions of the State and of Roselyne Bachelot, who spoke of 5,000 people sitting down. But 5,000 people outside seated and with social distancing, that’s exactly what Edouard Philippe announced in June 2020 for last summer! When I heard from the Minister last February, I said to myself that we were not even as it was a year ago: we have not taken a step forward! “
Director of Eurockéennes de Belfort, Jean-Paul Roland also looks back on the first year of the Covid: “At the first signs of the epidemic, the Prodiss (National Union of Producers, Broadcasters and Venues for Musical and Variety) sent a letter to the Minister to request an urgent meeting on the coming summer season. We were strongly criticized for this, especially by the optimists who criticized us for pushing for the cancellation. Unfortunately, what follows proved us right. “
Dilution of the artistic project
It will be understood, beyond a few appearances with all the same many “alternative” festivals, the summer of 2021 will be anything but normal. What Jean-Paul Roland confirms: “There are two ways of approaching this crisis. It seemed important to us not to sacrifice the spirit of our festival on the altar of the pandemic. The first constraints demanded by the Ministry of Culture in January made the exercise impossible: the Eurockéennes, it was lived up or it was not lived! Jean-Paul Roland explains that these conditions required having double the number of seats in relation to the number of spectators, knowing that the cost of a tiered seat is between 20 and 25 euros.
He looks back on the test concert at the AccorHotels Arena on May 29, in which he actively participated: “Initially, as soon as we saw a scientist arriving, we saw someone who was hugging us. We were very afraid of him, we were suspicious of him and he only brought bad news. On the other hand, the people of the AP-HP for this concert experience saved our lives. They told us that they themselves were consumers and that if we did not have a scientific answer, we would not be listened to by politicians. They really helped us plan for the future. “
Difficult restart and traffic jam on the horizon
David Ambibard, of which the Chorus des Hauts de Seine and Jazz à la Défense festivals will have 2021 editions, recognizes that those who did not wait for 2022 will not have it easy: “On Chorus, the deterioration of ticketing is phenomenal! The cost of implementing health protocols is 20% more on the budget. And for the ticket office, I have 50% less than what I usually have. On Jazz à la Défense, which is in another configuration, we go from a gauge of 10,000 people to a gauge of 1,000. “
While some large gatherings are starting to unveil spectacular posters for 2022, – starting with Hellfest with the titans Metallica and Guns N’Roses among others – it is certainly too early to announce a full return to normal for 2022, d ‘as many professionals expect very disrupted traffic on the festival and concert highway. “Everything will be jostled, because of the reports of some, the news of others, many of which had delayed as much as possible … And this will be valid in all places,” worries Aurélie Vanden Born, director of the Vauréal Forum.
“We will resume in a surreal traffic jam in 2022, adds David Ambibard. There’s gonna be an offer like never before, with all deferrals accumulated over two years. And it is the biggest and the intermediaries who will monopolize the ticket office. For emerging markets, it will be very difficult to find visibility. “
Maintain in 2021 or postpone to 2022, who does what among the major festivals
The Nuits de Fourvière, from the beginning of June and until the end of July, the Printemps de Bourges, at the end of June, or even Chorus or the Vieilles Charrues in Carhaix, this weekend, are the main posters of the festivals which make resistance, one way or another this summer. Others have decided not to cancel a second consecutive edition, even if it means reducing the number of their spectators and, consequently, their programming. But many big names have refused compromise solutions for this year and reinvested everything in 2022. A quick overview.
> Postponed to 2022: Les Eurockéennes de Belfort, Solidays in Paris, Garorock in Marmande, Musilac in Aix-les-Bains, Le Hellfest de Clisson, Beauregard in Hérouville-Saint-Clair, Lollapalooza in Paris, Art Rock in Saint-Brieuc.