Cher Public

Your move, Alan Gordon

“Union members have occupied Paris’ Opera Garnier in a protest over proposed changes to labor rules for theater workers.” [AP]

  • Chanterelle

    Thanks for posting, LC. AP’s short piece is the Simple English version. When the Opera de Paris went dark in late February I posted a For Dummies (™) version with a bit more detail about the issues here:

    Francophones on Facebook might want be interested in checking out the mobilization page “Intermittents du spectacle, Réforme 2014, Préparons-nous”.

    French mayoral elections (this weekend and next) are temporarily pulling attention away from this issue, but things will likely heat up in April if not sooner…

    • oedipe

      French mayoral elections (this weekend and next) are temporarily pulling attention away from this issue

      Well, not really: the “politique culturelle” and the budget allocated to culture are MAJOR issues in the upcoming elections and candidates of diverse persuasions are all promising to maintain them (which is, of course, unlikely).
      Culture is one of those topics -together with education- that gets the French electorate all worked up.

      • Chanterelle

        Well, it’s not just the intermittents du spectacle, but all the freelancers and part timers. The Intermittents du spectacle get more heat because of the imbalance in payouts. The economy is suffering so much that the candidates have to make economic promises. We see how that has worked out so far…

        It’s also a referendum on the “exception culturelle” which from my outsider perspective is a huge part of the French identity--though I don’t think people think about that.

        And is it really “the people” who get worked up or mostly the talking heads on TV? Makes for plenty of adrenalin on C dans l’air.

        • oedipe

          Culture in general -and not the “exception culturelle”, which is another topic altogether, pretty much settled by now- is definitely an issue that the majority of the French public gets worked up about. It’s probably on a par with, say, the issue of small government and low taxes in the American psyche.

          Here, for instance, is the title printed on the first page of the latest issue of La Terrasse*:


          L’appauvrissement de la culture, c’est l’appauvrissement de tous les citoyens.

          Les visions comptables sont insuffisantes pour
          penser le monde et les relations.

          Les femmes et hommes politiques marquants sont ceux qui ont du courage, et servent le bien commun. La culture est un bien commun.

          (*La Terrasse is a free performing arts magazine that one can find at most venues and which has as its logo the following quote by Pasolini:
          “La culture est une résistance à la distraction”.)

          • ljushuvud

            oedipe -- would you be kind enough to take the time to define or describe how the issues of “culture in general” and the “exception culturelle” are different issues?

            • oedipe

              The term “exception culturelle” goes back to the GATT free trade agreements of the late 1980s, primarily between the EU and the US. Under the initiative of the then socialist government of François Mitterrand, the EU argued that culture is not an industry like, say, manufacturing or tourism, and that it should get a special treatment in international trade agreements: hence, the “cultural exception”. In particular, the EU was trying to protect its movie and TV programming industry by introducing quotas of Hollywood movies and American TV series. Since then, the European movie industry has experienced a comeback and the issue has quietly died away.

              Does this clarify the difference between “cultural exception” and the general notion of “culture”?

    • Chanterelle

      BTW, here’s a (very) short French film on the subject:

  • Lalala

    A strike in Paris? Huh, who would have thought it could happen. They have more strikes (including at the theaters) than prizes in Cracker Jack boxes.

    • oedipe

      Oh, you are exaggerating, Lalala, only about twice a month :D!

      • Lalala

        I guess I’ve been eating to many boxes of Cracker Jack.

        • Grane

          lol, Lalala.

    • semira mide

      Ah, but strikes in Italy are more passionate.

      I have a friend in San Carlo orchestra who can attest to that!

      I tried to post the Repubblica video, but could only find this.

    • Ilka Saro

      I was in Paris in late 1995, during a massive transportation strike that shut down not just the buses, subways and taxis in Paris, but in much of the nation. I was very impressed.

      I saw one of the marches, completely with banners and canned smoke. What truly TRULY pleased me, though, was to see the caterers for the march, holding up the rear and pushing their steam tables of hot snacks. The French really know how to strike!

      • papopera

        they’ve had practice since 1870.

    • papopera

      Bah……les français, depuis 1789 ils sont un jour avec ou un jour sans. Allons-z-enfants…

  • This is OT but the Intermission Thread is old.

    The new GM of La Scala intends to take on the loggionisti, using the reasoning that some top singers are staying away from the house because of them. All the power to him!

  • redbear

    Thanks to Susan for her explanation of the issues. It should be pointed out that this program for special benefits for the “intermittents du spectacle” is unique to France. In other countries, the artists have only unemployment benefits like everyone else. This program mostly affects the film industry but includes “arts” in general. My friend the actor can do theater and small film parts and still afford to live a reasonable life and raise 4 children. My friend, the barber, works on a few films each year and enjoys “intermittent” status. “Intermittents” represent 3% of the “unemployed” but cost about one fifth of the total unemployment compensation budget. The figure for this extra cost being tossed around over here is one billion euros. And, as Sen. Everett Dirksen used to say, “A billion here, a billion there… it begins to add up!”

    • oedipe

      In addition, your friend the actor undoubtedly receives an extra subsidy for his/her third and fourth children. (Families get a subsidy per child starting with the third born. That’s probably the main reason why France has the highest birth rate in Europe.)

  • papopera

    There are lots of “issues” here. Its the IN word, everything is an issue, there are no more discussions, no more problems, no more difficulties, no more solutions, no more arguments……everything is an “issue”. Tiresome.

    • -Ed.

      Quite tiresome, I agree. But it’s become the norm I’m afraid. Personally, I associate its usage with the advent of the dreaded PowerPoint briefings.