the specter of cancellation hangs over summer music festivals

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The 2019 edition of the Hellfest festival, in Clisson (Loire-Atlantique). ESTELLE RUIZ / NURPHOTO

On March 18, the announcement of the cancellation of Glastonbury made many summer festivals dizzy. Giving up in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic, this giant gathering of British and European rock, which, from June 24 to 28, was to celebrate its 50e birthday, was it going to be the first card of a summer castle ready to collapse?

In France, the land of current music festivals (there are nearly 1,800), it is an essential sector of the performing arts that trembles when faced with the threat. A review by the site had calculated that the 100 largest events of the genre, of which more than 80% take place in summer, had, in 2018, more than 7 million spectators. A craze that has enabled the local development of ecosystems irrigating the cultural, social and economic fabric, while providing essential hours of work for thousands of intermittent workers.

Confirm the event? Shift it? Cancel it? The promoters of these festive communions live in uncertainty at the time of confinement. “We sail by sight”, recognizes Dominique Revert, one of the directors of Alias, a production company participating in the organization of festivals such as Beauregard (from July 2 to 5, in Hérouville-Saint-Clair, in Calvados) and Musilac (from 11 to 14 July, in Aix-les-Bains, in Savoie). “We are suspended to the evolution of government measures. We will see, on April 15, if we commit or not ”, affirms, for his part, Jérôme Tréhorel, director of Vieilles Charrues, which, from July 16 to 19, will bring together nearly 280,000 people in Carhaix (Finistère).

Despite its symbolic force, some want to downplay the importance of the Glastonbury case. “With its dozens of stages and its huge program, this festival is a UFO that takes three months to assemble, insists Jérôme Tréhorel. We have no equivalent in France. “ There are many reasons to worry here, however. Especially since the festival season begins at the end of spring. A few weeks after the cancellation of the Printemps de Bourges, which was to be held from April 21 to 26, festivals in May will have a hard time doing what they like.

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Be “agile to adapt”

A few days away, the Lyonnais de Nuits Sonores and the Normans de Papillons de Nuit have just announced that their 2020 edition will be offbeat. Attracting up to 145,000 fans of electronic culture in different places in Lyon, the first moved from July 22 to 26 what was planned from May 19 to 24. “The uncertainty was too high, explains Vincent Carry, director of Arty Farty, the festival’s organizing association. In an emergency, we evaluated new dates based on the availability of artists, places of performance and a timing that we imagine in phase with the resumption of activities. “ Advantages of Sound Nights: “We don’t depend on international stars, and the electro scene is agile enough to adapt. “


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