The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Presenter Interview
The Avignon Festival rebornTalking about subjects like the Festival's new Associate Artist program
Hortense Archambault
Hortense Archambault
Would you tell us about the makeup of the public funding you get? What is the ratio of national and local government funding? This involves problematic questions that many festivals have to deal with, like the question of what audience the festival is ultimately for.
Baudriller: We receive funding from the national, regional, departmental and arrondissement governments, but 60% of the financial support we get is from the national government. The rest of the breakdown is 21% from the city of Avignon, 10% from the departmental and 9% from the regional governments. The relationship with the local audience is a very important question. We moved our offices from Paris to Avignon. We have a tradition of the Festival being closely tied to local venues like the interior garden of the Papal Palace, the Calme Monastery and the Bourbon Quarry. Thus, it is important that our artists come and see the actual venues and discuss how they will be used and also to talk directly with people from the local audience. Some 35% of our festival’s audience come from the local areas.

Archambault: In the past, the support from local government was equal to that of the national government. But, as the costs of mounting the Festival have increased, the municipal funding has remained the same while the national funding has continued to increase to the point that the amounts are quite a difference now. In terms of the Festival’s finances, we maintain a balance of income and expenses, except in unexpected cases like the recent cancellation. We have a good relationship with both the national and local governments&;mdash;really (laughs). They give us a lot of artistic freedom. We are never forced to listen to outside comments from supporting bodies about the artistic content of the Festival.

In the past there was criticism that Avignon municipal government gave more financial support to its little-known opera theater than to its internationally famous performing arts festival. Is that still the case?
Archambault: Yes, it is.

How do the two of you work together? What are your individual roles in the running of the Festival?
Baudriller: We work together side-by-side very well (laughs). I am mainly responsible for the artistic aspects and the programming.

Archambault: I am responsible for the administrative, financial and personnel aspects. If Vincent’s job is envisioning dreams, I guess my job is turning dreams into reality. Vincent is the one who says “Oui” and I am the one who often has to say “Non” (laughs).

I believe that what we need more than anything in Japan’s cultural scene today is that kind of good balance between dreams and reality. Thank you very much for talking to us today.

Both Joseph Nagi and Frédéric Fisbach are known to have strong associations with Japan. In the 2006 festival we plan to include in the Avignon program a new joint international work with French and Japanese dancers and Japanese musicians to be produced in cooperation with the Setagaya Public Theater. This will be the first time that Japanese artists will perform on the inner garden stage at the Papal Palace, and it means we will realize performances in both France and Japan with expectation.
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