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Flash Breaking News, 3-8: Artists Strike Back
INTERMITTENT FREELANCE ARTISTS STRIKE THROUGHOUT FRANCE; PARIS OPERA
BALLET, NADJ CANCEL SHOWS; THREE PARIS THEATERS OCCUPIED
Copyright 2006 The Dance Insider
PARIS, March 8, 10:20
p.m. -- Still outraged over a reduction in unemployment benefits
that took effect two years ago, Intermittents or freelance performance
artists tonight occupied the Theatre du Vieux Colombiers in the
capital's toney 6th arrondisement near the Luxembourg Gardens, culminating
two days of a national strike called by France's largest union,
a handful of occupations, and cancelled performances throughout
France, including at the Paris Opera Ballet and by Josef Nadj, and
a day in which 5,000 Intermittents and their supporters demonstrated
in front of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's office to demand
the return of their full benefits.
The Theatre du Rond
Point and the Theatre de Marigny, also in Paris, have also just
been occupied, the Intermittents coordinating committee announced
in the last ten minutes.
In the last few hours,
the team involved with choreographer Nadj's "Poussiere de Soleil"
has joined the strike and tonight's performance of the piece at
the Theatre Municipal de Caen, in Normandy, has been cancelled.
Veteran choreographers Eric Lamoureux and Hela Fattoumi, directors
of the Centre Choregraphique National in Normandy, have also joined
the strike, as have the centre's employees. All three choreographers
were scheduled to dialogue with the public at the centre tonight
on the Intermittents struggle.
The intermittents --
freelance dancers and other performance, television, and movie artists,
as well as technicians so-called because their employment is 'intermittent'
-- have continued protesting since employers, the right-wing national
government, and minority unions agreed two years ago to drastically
reduce their benefits, even after the Intermittents succeeded in
down festivals throughout France in the summer of 2003
to protest the new regime. Under the old system, freelance artists
and technicians who clocked a combined 507 hours from all their
employers during one year were then eligible for one year of unemployment
benefits. The new system gives artists just 10.5 months to clock
the hours and technicans 10 months, for which they now get not one
year but eight months of benefits.
While the Intermittents
and their allies in Parliament have continued to make proposals
to abrogate or fix the new protocol, the Intermittents said in a
statement today that "none of the(se) propositions has been taken
into account" by government negotiators. The employers' syndicate,
it said, "pursues its logic: the exclusion of the greatest number
(of artists) with a system totally unadapted to our employment practices."
Responding to the strike
call, the Paris National Opera, which includes the Paris Opera Ballet,
cancelled last night's scheduled performance of Rudolph Nureyev's
"La Bayadere" and tonight's of the opera "Rigoletto." Meanwhile,
in Southern France, intermittents have tonight occupied the offices
of the directors of the Avignon Festival, France's leading summer
arts event. In Rennes, they've occupied the offices of the Direction
Regional of Bretagne, according to the Intermittents' website,
and 'retained' the agency's director and deputy director.
Also striking today
are the entire technical and administrative staff of Paris-Villette,
the artists and technicians of "Big-Bang," a show currently in rehearsal
in Poitiers, the entire team of the play "Cris" in Belfort, the
Theatre des Bernardines in Marseille, the staff of the Comedie theater
of Picardie, the technical team of the Theatre Dijon-Bourgogne,
the cast of "push-up," currently playing at the Theatre de la Tempete
in Vincenne, all the full-time employees of the Theatre National
de Bretagne, also in Rennes, Company Battement d'Elle in Orleans,
the artists and technicians of the Atelier de Mecanique Generale
Contemporaine in Bordeaux, as well as the administrative staff;
and casts, technicians, and staff at theaters throughout France.
Television and movie shoots have also been cancelled by the strike.
The Intermittents coordinating
committee has called a general meeting for Thursday morning at 11
a.m. at the Theatre de la Colline in Paris to discuss the results
of what it calls today's "pseudo-negotiations" organized by the
government, and to decide the next steps for the movement.
For updates on strike
actions and cancellations, check the Intermittents' website,
which is being regularly updated tonight. For more on why this matters
to freelance dancers all over the world, particularly in the United
States, click here