Sunday, 12 July 2015

French Economic Crisis Takes its Toll

With Europe holding its breath to find out the future for Greece, the economic crisis is having some serious repercussions in even some of the continent’s major financial powerhouse states, with record unemployment numbers and cuts to government subsidies in France being blamed for the cancellation of hundreds of events throughout the country, where in June, the unemployment rate reached a record high of 10.4%. 

According to the Cartocrise-Culture-Francaise (CCF – an online interactive map containing up-to-date nformation on the cancellation or failure of festivals, venues and cultural projects across all sectors of the creative industries in France), 48 events had already disappeared by January this year, a number that had skyrocketed to 215 by the end of June.

Government funding for music festivals and concert venues has been a certainty in France for over two decades but such subsidies have now dried up hitting hard those events who have until now relied on public funding. In addition, the CCF illustrates that more than 40 music festivals have been cancelled, including such high profile events as Crazy Week à Nice, where acts like 30 Seconds to Mars, Mika and Simple Minds have previously played; and the world music festival Résonances in Roquefort, which has fallen victim to France’s recession despite 20 years of success and annual audiences of up to 20,000.

Just two years ago (according to a joint study by Sacem, CNV and IRMA) the total number of music festivals in France, per annum was 1,972. A spokesman for venue association Fedelima (which represents the interests of 140 concert clubs) has described the situation as “fragile”. Many of Fedelima’s members are small concert clubs and promoters who rely on financial backing via cultural funds from local or regional bodies.

The situation for them has become much more difficult since the cuts were imposed. The MJC – L’Escale, located in Aubagne, for example, has had to significantly reduce its number of bookings since the local council slashed financial backing for the club. Elsewhere, Figures Libres (an association that also promotes the festival Rockomotives), had to shelve plans to launch a concert club in Vendôme after grants it had been promised were withdrawn following the election of a new city government in March.

Underlining the severity of the budget cuts in France, cultural organisation Fondation La Borie-en-Limousin went out of business earlier this year, citing economic reasons.

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