Sets, orders: classical music began to be combined to save money

Posted Jan. 18, 2023, 11:05 a.m

With rising costs and declining public finances, the subsidized cultural sector is a concern. We saw it at the Bis de Nantes, a gathering of private and public actors from the performing arts held in mid-January, with a roundtable on “end of performing arts from 2023? “. Or the Music Troop tribune which brings together 51 operas and orchestras entitled: “Mrs. Culture Minister, the closure of our establishments is no longer a chimera”. At Les Bis, its president, Aline Sam-Giao pointed out that 89% of these houses had to suspend activity them for several years due to a lack of funds.

According to “The Musician’s Letter”, the Rouen Opera saw its energy bill increase by 450,000 euros, the price of productions like Rigoletto. The Bordeaux opera incurred a surcharge of 1.3 million euros. At the same time, the salary increase is added: in Bordeaux, this represents 500,000 euros. Finally, cuts to subsidies threaten: in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, the Clermont Auvergne Opéra has lost 20% of its regional funds.

All-around savings

So the search for austerity multiplies: lowering temperatures, fading facades at night, renewing a more “controlled” air, postponing expensive artistic projects… But the trend is also towards unification. Thus, Collectif 17 h 25 plans to standardize the decorative elements. It brings together five cultural structures that want to share good practice: the Châtelet, the Aix-en-Provence Festival of Lyric Arts, the Paris Opera, Lyon, and the Royal Theater of La Monnaie in Belgium.

“General management prepares the approach, then the technical department, design office and workshop are involved. The idea is not to expand this collective too quickly to get real results to pass on our experience to more institutions,” explains François Vienne, Deputy General Director of Festival d’Aix.

Standardization of the structural elements supporting the sets allows them to be reused from one production to another, reducing waste, storage, volume to be transported and, in total, the cost of the set.

Go off track

“La Coopérative” aims to be a production tool to bring opera to life outside the major institutions. It brings together three national stages (Besançon, Dunkerque, Quimper) and three opera houses (Compiègne, Rennes, Tourcoing) to create a show that can be performed in a multidisciplinary venue. The milestone of 100 performances in more than 30 theaters in France has been passed. “About these six members, we have partners, the national stage, the city theater, the opera house. This makes it possible to play 10-12 times a production that would only be played 4-5 times,” Matthieu Rietzler, director of Opera Rennes, told Bis.

The Center for French Lyrical Production, renamed “Génération Opéra”, has grown rapidly. It organizes the Voix Nouvelles competition which has revealed great names in singing and brings together opera houses to arrange productions (one arranges, the other costumes, etc.) with young singers, contributing to the integration of their work.

Increase creation

For their part, five musical formations have created a “Creative Consortium” to order with contemporary composers: the orchestras of Avignon-Provence, Brittany, Cannes, Mulhouse, Picardy. An unprecedented initiative in France. “Contemporary music is becoming increasingly rare in French orchestras, and this initiative offers visibility into current creations while limiting costs,” explains Alexis Labat, general manager of Orchester National Avignon-Provence. The consortium is also a starting point for creating other relationships among its members.

Collaborations are also forged in cultural mediation, such as OrchestraLab, the first web platform for music games that awakens children aged 7 to 11 to symphonic music. The initiative brings together the Orchester national d’Ile-de-France, Opéra de Rouen Normandie, Orchester de chambre de Paris, and NoMadMusic.

At Les Bis de Nantes, Christopher Miles, head of the Directorate General of Artistic Creation of the Ministry of Culture, at a round table called “better product, better broadcast”, pleaded for “strengthening the logic of cooperation”, and called for “the rapprochement of cultural structures” public and private to prolong diffusion”, while the trend is still towards overproduction of shows that haven’t changed much.

Les Bis de Nantes is full

International Biennials of the Show, in ten years has become a unique event in its magnitude. On January 11 and 12, they attracted the entire industry with 15,000 exhibitors from 32 countries, 180 exhibitors. Its 160 forums and workshops reflect current concerns: concentration after the pandemic, the return of an unequal public and the threats associated with the Olympic Games… Les Bis is an exhibition as well as a marketplace with 270 producers and tour operators representing 3,500 shows and artists, a lobbying venue where professional federations meet. Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak was there for six hours.

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