LA MANUFACTURE, CONTEMPORARY COLLECTIVE IN AVIGNON
OXYGENE, THE YEAR-ROUND PROJECT
Since 2001, La Manufacture has been promoting a differentiated approach to culture in the periphery for artists. We are an independent structure with the legal status of a 1901 law association.
Our project aims to bring out new governance, new creative paths, inclusive and participatory, unique and contemporary, hybrid, performative, some of which are presented as part of the International Festival of La Manufacture, in July every summer, allowing visibility public, professional and important media, and especially wide distribution.
We work on the disciplines of the performing arts, visual arts, performance but also the urban, rural and industrial heritage of the territory.
This work is mainly developed in the neighborhoods of the northeastern outskirts of Avignon, one of the poorest territories in France in terms of per capita income, in the context of coexistence with one of the major seasonal cultural events in Europe.
This territory is the center of one of the most important urban renewal programs in the State (NPRU – Nouveau Programme de Rénovation Urbaine, led by ANRU – Agence Nationale de Rénovation Urbaine) for the period 2020-2030. Worth 300 million euros, it concerns the rehabilitation of 1,400 housing units and will affect 25,000 inhabitants.
The year-round project is managed by a tight-knit team: Pascal Keiser, Julie Charrier, Jefel Goudjil (Mairies annexes de Saint Chamand and Rocade-Sud), Marie Albert (European projects) joined in 2021 by Frédéric Poty and Pierre Holemans.
Work on memorial sites
The year-round project, resulting from the experience of the team members in these approaches, voluntarily fits into a simplified approach: no manifesto or ostentatious physical place but offices shared with other associations at the foot of a HLM (French social housing) bar in Saint Chamand, the inclusion of residents, the neighborhood council in the governance of the project, the development of inclusive and participatory projects on a specific site in memorial places linked to the collective identity, making it possible to (re ) develop a common narrative.
The memorial sites we are working on are in particular those linked to the urbanization on the outskirts of the 1950s to 1970s north-east of Avignon, the memorial site of Camp des Milles, the former nuclear missile firing base for attack on the Albion plateau, sites linked to the memory of the industrialization of the territory such as the path and the Ocher conservatory in Roussillon.
A strategy to increase the skills of the public
Since 2005 and the work with the trainees of an ESAT-CAT (French network for disabled people), then from 2008 to 2012 with the creation of training sessions in digital tools and development of critical thinking with young people from the social center of Saint Chamand, we have developed strategies using artistic projects as a lever for social integration, for increasing the skills of the public.
This program continues today with our registration in the national network “Classe Départ”, a social re-employability program through a cycle of artistic training, an innovative social franchise piloted by l’Envol à Arras, with the Fondation la France s’ engages and the France Avenir Foundation. These projects are part of an approach to using art as a tool for social transformation.
A local, national and European network
We are developing a European, national and local networking strategy in our projects, in particular through the Creative Europe program of the European Commission, which allows us to network with 8 other important European cultural players also working in peripheral situations, or through the IETM network, the main European network of contemporary creation professionals.
Nationally, we are part of the “Classe Départ” network. At the local level, La Manufacture has won several political projects from the city and from the Ministry of Culture (DRAC Sud / PACA).
The year-round project is built on funding separate from that of the Festival.
The residents and neighborhood committees of the northeastern outskirts of Avignon, the social centers of Saint Chamand, La Barbière, La Croix des Oiseaux
The European Commission, Creative Europe
The State, via: Ministry of Culture, DRAC Sud-PAC / La Préfecture de Vaucluse
Avignon town hall, Saint Chamand district town hall
The policy of the city of Grand Avignon: Prefecture of Vaucluse, South Region / PACA, Department of Vaucluse, Grand Avignon, City of Avignon, ANRU, ARS, social landlords
The national Classe Départ network, with centers located in Arras, Béthune, in the Yvelines and in Toulouse
Les Cités de emploi: Local youth mission of Greater Avignon, Insercall, the Second Chance School
THE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
The meaning of our approach
The operation of La Manufacture during the Festival has been positioned since 2001 as an alternative to the general operating mode of the Festival Off. It considers the situation of the territory, the difficulty of integrating the inhabitants of the peripheral areas to the Festival, the issues linked to festival seasonality. During the Festival, it offers an ethical, sustainable, inclusive framework that leaves a positive imprint, significant added value during the year and during the Festival on the territory and its inhabitants at the human, economic, social and cultural level.
Artistic projects at the center
We have always placed contemporary projects carried by artists at the center of our approach and have developed the La Manufacture tool accordingly. Since 2005, this has led us to associate a process of creating a place on the outskirts, by involving the public, with the significant development of the technical nature of our stages and their modularity in order to respond to the formal evolution of demands and formats of contemporary creators, and the demands of an international festival presenting 7 to 8 shows per room and per day. Today La Manufacture tool consists of an intramural pocket room (7 × 8 m platform), and two large modular and flexible platforms, the Chateau (10 × 15 m platform) and the Saint Chamand ice rink (Platform 14 × 14 m).
In addition, following artists’ requests, we have developed a strategy of satellite locations indoors or on specific sites for singular, hybrid projects, often for small gauges, for which we have ensured and assumed the programming within the framework of the Festival, and facilitated national and international distribution.
The parameters that we consider important to support current contemporary creations are in particular (Chateau and Ice Rink) technical equipment at the level of French national main stages, large-scale and single-storey platforms allowing a contemporary vision report, storage single-storey decors to reduce assembly / disassembly times, a warm-up / rehearsal room, 40 minutes between shows allowing peaceful changes, the possibility of working in two-way or four-way frontal, a technical team and Significant HR (28 people in operation, including 8 technicians in company management monitoring).
We combine this with a commitment to territorial equity by employing 4 young people from the political districts of the city on fixed-term contracts in our team of 28 employees during the Festival, with positions of responsibility.
Since 2008, the programme of the International Festival at La Manufacture has been carried out in a collective approach. From 2008 to 2012, a collective of artists associated with the team produced it, it has since been managed by a tight collective of 5 people around Pascal Keiser, the founder of La Manufacture: Emilie Audren, Agathe Jeanneau, Mael Le Goff and Pierre Holemans, the latter focusing on new international projects in 2021.
The economic model
In 2019, the International Festival at La Manufacture presented more than 35 projects from 11 countries, nearly 700 performances on 3 main sites (intramural, Saint Chamand Castle, Saint Chamand ice rink) and 5 satellite sites. We welcomed 35,000 spectators including 15,000 professional admissions.
The general context of the Festival Off and specific to La Manufacture makes any financial equilibrium of the operation based on ticketing receipts impossible: low ticket prices (€ 12 with an Off card, while the same show will be seen in Paris around € 30 ), high level of professional admissions bring total ticketing revenues of around 250 to 300 k € for places in working order requiring, according to our qualitative criteria, a budget of 450 k €.
This is the reason why we work on a rental basis, the only one possible in our operating environment.
A co-production mode of operation would lead to a drastic reduction in the quality of equipment and human resources made available to companies.
We position ourselves in the public service register, with our team members working there year-round. We program artists whose companies are subsidized by the public authorities for their visit to Avignon, the support of our rental is assumed indirectly by the public authorities.