tent, a tool for the future?

What if tents were tools for the future? This is the bet that is at the heart of the round table hosted on November 7 by the Ministry of Culture at the Espace Cirque d’Antony. A bold bet, no doubt, but one that is also based on a realistic observation: contemporary circuses, which have experienced tremendous growth (today, a quarter of circus unionists and creative companies operate major tops), aren’t they being increasingly asserted because they mobilize tools? this incomparable?

The local tool par excellence, the marquee, which has repositioned artistic creation at the heart of the acrobatic performance, allows, it is a fact, to reach all regions and all audiences – especially those far from what culture has to offer – with unparalleled efficiency. So much so that the distribution under this canvas architecture has become, as Sophie Zeller insists, the theater and related arts delegation in the general direction for artistic creation of the Ministry of Culture, ” criteria for maximizing the assistance that can be provided to the company. That the contemporary circus favors large tops and their use is immortalized is obviously very important to us. ” Report.

Tent, creation, travel and life

Marc Jeancourt, director of L’Azimut – Pôle National Cirque, host of the round table, describes himself as ” resident operators », which organizes year-round travel tents in the living rooms of Antony and Châtenay-Malabry, while setting up a program of live shows in the two “loud” rooms. For him, increased distribution to the audience involved intertwined programming: circus under the big stage, theatre, puppetry, dance, “young audience”. ” Our job, at the circus pole, is to “strengthen” the script for the circus and set the tone for the meeting between the naturally popular tool that is the tent and the challenges of contemporary creation. »

Pauline Bardoux, circus artist, aerialist and artistic director of l’Envolée Cirque, and Maël Tortel, circus artist, founder and coordinator of the Pardi! circus, carry the thoughts and hopes of travel companies. For them, tents are a way of life. The tool requires good knowledge of the various trades, as it is a whole theater in motion. We rehearse there, we rehearse there, we produce there, we create there, we welcome the association, the community, all audiences, and not just for the show. We live nearby, and we live a family life there!

But most importantly, of course, the tent is made for creation. ” This gives the freedom to imagine any scenography, in any artistic form, in circular or frontal layouts, with or without benches. », emphasized Pauline Bardoux. Regarding accessibility, you couldn’t ask for more: ” We are welcomed by people, at home, in their city, in their country. In return, we welcome them under our tent. »

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Towards a mixed traveling circus economy?

We then tackle a more technical question: how to improve contemporary circus distribution? The number of shows given was often much lower than it should have been, given the population set to which the circus was established. For Maël Tortel, the use of a necessary and welcome transfer contract, which stipulated both a fixed remuneration and a limited number of appearances, prevented him from taking advantage of the word of mouth generated by the success, due to a lack of games. few more days!

The importance of transfer contracts is certainly undeniable, as they allow for artistic risk-taking, and there is no question of going back to a bidding policy that has proven its value over time. It’s just a question, as posed by Maël Tortel, of opening the doors of self-production to find ” interesting mix. »

Sophie Zeller, Delegate for Theater and Associated Arts at the Ministry of Culture, here underscores the Ministry’s interest: ” The hybridization of this distribution model, as long as it doesn’t harm the ecosystem that supports creation, could go in the right direction. Indeed, we maintain the longest possible series of shows, because they leave time for both the uninformed and the casual viewer to hear about a show and decide to attend it. »
For Maël Tortel, it was time to elevate the tour company to the rank of full partner. ” We bring our own skills, acquired by travel, to national, cinema and community centers. Our arrival reactivates the entire chain of contacts,” partnership spider », so to speak, that generates a plethora of activities and gatherings under the hood. We’re going through, it’s a magical position, one that revitalizes local exchanges and initiatives. »

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Is the tent ecological?

Another big question. Here, the tent immediately appears as a thermal filter, an ecological disaster, summer and winter. However, on closer inspection, we are far from that.
We have started, at the Ministry of Culture, to carry out carbon assessments by type of equipment, explains Sophie Zeller. We already know that if we compare the entire tent-building process to that of a theater, the carbon footprint of each is disproportionate. We also know that if you heat or condition your tent it is expensive, but for a very short time. In addition, the marquee travels more than its people, who live nearby. However, an average of 60% of a theater’s carbon footprint comes from public movement. On the other hand, the question of the obsolescence of the railway infrastructure must be raised.

In addition, we support research projects, such as the Center des arts en mouvement in Aix-en-Provence, which are modeling technical solutions to produce lighter and more insulated mobile devices. »

We also mention the geographic coherence of the tour, an important issue that the Ministry of Culture is currently working on through its operator: the National Office for Artistic Diffusion (ONDA).

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The capital city: Châlons-en-Champagne

Finally, Benoîst Apparu, the enthusiastic mayor of Châlons-en-Champagne, arrives to explain how this city of 50,000 souls has built its new identity on top of the contemporary circus. Indeed, it is in Châlons that the National Center for Circus Arts (CNAC) is located, ” one of the three major schools with worldwide influence in circus discipline. The national hub was created four years ago. A festival for thirty years. The project will form a complete ecosystem: training (CNAC), creation (Poland), deployment (festival), which will be combined with conservation and historical research (national circus museum), international festival circus school (at CNAC), equipment storage center ( to promote reuse), a national resource center in the hood, and even the creation of a physical production unit, so to speak ” a foundry »… Amazing energy, in any case, to serve the arts and the inhabitants who deserve it!

“Tents, tools for the future?”, a roundtable moderated by Évelyne Laquit, delegate for information and communications of the Ministry of Culture, on 7 November 2022 at Espace Cirque d’Antony. With the participation of Marc Jeancourt, director of L’Azimut – Pôle National Cirque, Pauline Bardoux, circus artist, aerialist and artistic director of Envolée Cirque, Maël Tortel, circus artist, founder and coordinator of circus Pardi!, Sophie Zeller , Delegate for Theater and the Arts Associated at the Ministry of Culture and eventually Benoist Apparu, Mayor of Châlons-en-Champagne.

Big boss at the center for contemporary circus support policies

The circus arts sector benefits from significant support from the Ministry of Culture, in particular an annual grant for creative circus tours (under major superiors) of 250,000 euros, which is added to a one-time grant for corporate investment, support provided to the tent reception area at Circus Poles, and the 400,000 euro “Marqueaux Plan” launched in 2021.

Artenaas Sophie Zeller points out, publishes essential parenting guides for circus artists with children and on the move. We are also working, this time with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, to establish laws for circus artists, in terms of insurance and liability, while they are in training. And Artcena is preparing a census of training venues, so itinerant artists know where they can find accessible, equipped, and heated spaces to practice. »

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