The concern is palpable on the side of concert halls and producers, with ticket sales which have already fallen by 50% over a year.
Pure and simple cancellations or restricted access: the world of entertainment and culture is looking for a parade after the shock decision to ban any gathering of more than 1000 people to stop the spread of coronavirus.
After a first series of postponements last week (Gims, M, PNL, Simple Minds, M. Pokora), Madonnas concerts, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at the Grand Rex, were canceled, putting an end to the “Madame X” tour.
The concern is palpable on the side of concert halls and producers, with ticket sales which have already fallen by 50% over a year. A loss “greater than that of the attacks in 2015”, according to the professional union Prodiss.
“We have nothing more planned by the beginning of June,” explains Thierry Teodori, general manager of the Halle Tony Garnier in Lyon, one of the largest cinemas in France (up to 17,000 seats). “All that was more than 5000 spectators has already been postponed, for the most part in the fall. We had a few concerts in small gauge that we are moving (…) up to a year for lack of square”.
Main difficulty: the lack of details on the duration of the restrictions. At the independent label Chinese Man Records (CMR), the government ban could no longer fall in bad order. The group which gave its name to the label was to start on Thursday in Marseille on 18 dates, to accompany the launch of an album. “What we are waiting for is the decree to be published” on Tuesday, explains Frederic Maigne, the director of CMR. Referring to a “financially catastrophic” situation, he worried about the duration of the decisions and the support measures that will be put in place.
“It sends a very negative signal about cinema attendance. We felt a decline. But here we seem to say that going to a performance hall is to run a great danger. This is not the end of the world. It is not because two people are contaminated that 600 people will be contaminated “, commented for his part the producer of shows, Jean-Marc Dumontet, president of Molieres, on BFMTV.
The Federation of performing arts, music, audiovisual and cinema companies (Fesac) has therefore sounded the alarm, calling on the authorities to set up “an emergency fund” to help a sector already weakened by attacks and strikes in transport linked to the mobilization against pension reform.
Faced with the exceptional threat linked to the coronavirus, the government had first prohibited closed gatherings of more than 5,000 people until the end of May, before reducing the ban to mid-April. The measure had led to cancellations of concerts and shows such as the Mondial du tattoo in mid-March and the Book Fair in Paris in late March.
By announcing the ban on gatherings of more than 1000 people, in the open air as well as in a closed environment, he further hardened his response, sowing excitement. Exceptions are however provided for events considered “useful for the life of the nation”.
In museums and exhibition spaces, adapting seems to be the watchword. For the Louvre, the busiest in the world, access is now reserved only for visitors with an electronic ticket and those with free entry. The Center Pompidou has established a real-time count with maximum gauges of 1000 people in the exhibition spaces and in the library (where only one seat out of two must be occupied).
As for the Palace of Versailles, it will put in place on Tuesday a regulation of its visitors, by encouraging them to book a ticket online with time slot. The Philharmonie de Paris canceled on Monday evening and at least until March 22 the concerts which take place in the large Pierre Boulez hall (2400 seats), while maintaining its other concerts, workshops and activities.
The Paris Opera, already scalded by a historic strike by its staff which cost him 16.4 million euros, canceled three performances. As for the Theatre de Chaillot, it has announced that it will limit its capacity to 1,000 seats.