Theatre and shows in France
At the end of the Second World War, by the will of some pioneering artists, A vast movement of theatrical decentralization is taking place which accompanies the reconstruction of the entire country and anticipates the creation of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in 1959.
From then on, André Malraux continued the commitment he had begun in favour of theatre: he consolidated the budgets of the two existing national theatres, created the third by detaching from the Comédie Française l'Odéon, dubbed «Théâtre de France» whose direction was entrusted to Jean-Louis Barrault, and decided on the evolution of these theatres into public institutions.
André Malraux also continued the decentralization of theatre by creating new national drama centres from 1961. The department is also contributing to the emergence of subsidized troops. Private theatre received support through the creation of the private theatre support fund in 1964. With the creation of the houses of culture that have become National Scenes, a network is formed that meets the pre-existing network of CDNs, two networks that are constantly becoming more dense.
The panorama of French theatre creation takes shape around dedicated venues on the one hand and the vitality of independent teams on the other. The higher education and integration of young artists remain fundamental issues of the ministry’s policy.
The Comédie-Française, the Théâtre national de l'Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe, the Théâtre national de la Colline and the Théâtre national de Strasbourg are, together with the Théâtre national de Chaillot, the five national theatres. Pillars of public policy in favour of drama, and dance for Chaillot, these large emblematic scenes of the French performing arts are public institutions under the tutelage of the Ministry of Culture (Direction générale de la création artistique).
National Drama Centres (NDCs)
The National Drama Centres (NDCs) are emblematic of the State’s policy of dramatic decentralization over the past 70 years (the first five were established between 1946 and 1952). Creative and production structures led by one or more artists involved in the theatre field, the CDNs are major and structuring tools for the design, manufacture and production of theatrical works, in a spirit of openness and sharing.
NDCs are places where all the dimensions of theatre can be met and articulated: research, writing, creation, dissemination, training. For each CDN, a contract of dramatic decentralization is concluded between the Minister in charge of Culture and the director of the labeled structure, defining the commitments of each party for the implementation of theatre creation missions of general interest within the framework of the objectives defined by the terms of reference of the CDN label.
The 38 national drama centres are spread over the entire national territory and are resolutely committed to the dissemination of theatre to the widest audience. As a result, each season they welcome more than one million paying spectators (1.4 million spectators in all the NDCs for the 2015-2016 season).
Bringing together the old houses of culture (early 1960s), the centres of cultural action (from 1967) and the centres of cultural development (from 1975), the network of national scenes was unified by this label in 1991. Today, 74 of them are located throughout the country, the vast majority in medium-sized cities with populations ranging from 50 to 200,000.
The national stages offer the public a multidisciplinary programme in the field of performing arts and, for places with adapted spaces, visual arts and cinema, reflecting the main trends of contemporary artistic production. They offer artists the means to carry out their research and creative work and offer the population of the establishment’s area an ambitious and diversified cultural action. They also provide advice, guidance and training for professionals and future professionals who work or are destined to work with artists and the public.
Conventional Scenes of National Interest
As part of the redefinition of the labels and of the convention in the live performance operated by the Ministry of Culture in 2017, the appellation «stage conventionnée d'intérêt national» is awarded (for four years, renewable) a structure recognized for the quality of its programme of artistic and cultural actions. It is accompanied by one of the following three mentions: «Art et création», for projects developing a sustainable work of accompaniment of artists and facilitation of their creation; «Art, childhood, youth», for projects leading an exemplary cultural action in the accompaniment of young public creation and its inclusion in artistic and cultural education pathways; “Art in territory”, for projects focusing on artistic and cultural activities to meet people.
Cirque National Poles (PNC)
The certification of the National Circus Centres (NPCs) in 2010 crowned ten years of proactive policy led by the Ministry of Culture to promote the structuring of this discipline and support its artistic development.
The PNC participate in the renewal of artistic forms and aesthetics of the circus. They organize their activities mainly around support missions and support of creation and dissemination in the field of circus. They bring together 14 reference institutions in support of the creation, production and dissemination of circus arts. They constitute a structuring network in favor of the influence of the circus, as well as the renewal of its artistic forms and its aesthetics for the benefit of the widest public.
National Street Arts and Public Space Centres (CNAREP)
Structuring the National Street Arts and Public Space Centres (CNAREP) and their inclusion in the networks labeled in 2010 is the result of a policy of support for the sector of street arts and public space implemented for twenty years.
The CNAREP accompanies artistic and cultural projects for the public space as well as the paths of the artists by relying on their territory of implantation. These are the reference institutions for the creation, dissemination and presentation to audiences of artistic projects designed for the public space. They participate in the recognition and qualification of street arts and public space. There are now 13 CNAREP across the country.
National Puppetry Centres (CNMa)
CNMa-labelled structures constitute a national network of reference that contributes to the development and recognition of puppetry arts. They contribute to the renewal of artistic forms and aesthetics of puppetry.
In September 2022, six CNMa across the country were certified. In the medium term, a dozen structures will benefit from this label.
The theatre festivals
For example, Avignon, Montpellier (“Printemps des comédiens”), Périgueux (“Mimos”), Dijon (“Théâtre en mai”), Bussang, Charleville-Mézières (“Festival mondial des théâtres de marionnettes”), Aurillac, Chalon-sur-Saône (street arts), BIAC (Marseille) or Auch for the circus. More than 20 festivals are also dedicated to creations for young audiences.
Theatre, circus, street art, puppetry, storytelling… France has the distinction of having, together with its network of venues and festivals, structured theatrically by the support given to independent companies. There are more than 6,000 companies licensed as entertainment entrepreneurs. A large number of them target their creations to young audiences.
While some, who are in the minority, have a workplace that is sometimes shared with other artists, the vast majority depend on the production or broadcast venues in order to create their own show. Established in a given territory, they often carry out an important work of arts and cultural education and intervene with different audiences (schools, people with disabilities, social precariousness, etc.).
Approximately 300 drama companies are covered by the DRAC agreements for an amount that cannot be less than €50,000 per year; 300 also, often younger in their career and structuring, benefit from project aid allocated in DRAC. According to the policy of their region and city of establishment, they sometimes benefit from the support of local authorities.
12 theatre colleges 4 circus colleges the National School of Puppetry in Charleville-Mézières... higher education covers all fields of creation.
Prior to entry into higher education, integrated and non-integrated preparatory classes and “second chance” classes are being set up in the territories, in order to ensure that the most diverse profiles possible can be trained. The challenge for the Ministry of Culture is also, within the framework of the attention paid to the artist’s career path, to support the integration schemes for young artists from these higher schools.