Performing Arts: “Let Them Eat Brioche!”

The recent Corodis report on the performing arts system in French-speaking Switzerland is sparking heated debates in the performing arts sector, not least because this report questions the way this sector is supported. As a preamble, it should be remembered that the culture was greatly weakened by the years of covid. And the crisis is far from over. Just looking at the recent cancellations in Switzerland and Europe remind us that the horizon is still unclear. Cultural actors (as well as other sectors of society) are concerned with their survival.

It is in this context that this report recommends slowing down a system that the study considers to be overheating. The public discourse surrounding this analysis has wrongly focused on just one element: the number of shows and independent companies. A quick and simplistic conclusion was sometimes drawn: let’s reduce the number of projects/companies supported, and by some miracle, precariousness will disappear from the performing arts scene.

Read too: The excess of artistic supply makes the world of the francophone scene precarious

Institutions can act

However, when carefully reading this study, many other aspects are noticed, especially the role that theaters must play in order for this system to become more virtuous. Indeed, the study shows “the asymmetry of the relationships between theaters and companies by revealing the inconsistency and inconsistency of the values ​​collected by the latter”. It is worth remembering here that a significant part of the public resources that support the performing arts goes to “theatres”, which, therefore, have a central role to play in helping cultural actors to get out of precariousness. It must therefore be said that with the support they receive comes responsibility.

We can only be surprised, therefore, by the comments made by the president of the Syndicate of Romand Theaters about the Léman Bleu set. The institutions it represents have the means (artistic and financial) to participate in the fight against precariousness. They can act on the duration of contracts, sales prices, the level of wages in particular. They can support French-language creations rather than bemoan their abundance.

For their part, public authorities also have a role to play in ensuring that, for example, the sums paid by theaters for a show (transfer price) actually make it possible to finance the work carried out by cultural actors. They can also support research work and encourage resumption.

A whole system to rethink

Ultimately, what this study shows is that the entire system needs to be rethought. It can also mean questioning the financial balance between independent creation and the institution, between different cultural sectors (we can think of the lack of support for contemporary music) and art forms. Finally, this leads to questioning the rules of administrations that in fact oblige the creation of an infinity of “micro-companies”, as they do not allow, for example, to support collectives of artists. Finally, we also ask why good practices, especially in terms of salary (think of the CCT minimum salary, which often becomes a salary considered normal even though it is a career entry salary), are not more widely demanded by the authorities. . The SSRS has adopted a salary scale that allows valuing the years of experience. We want it to serve as a reference for employers and funders.

To think that the problems raised by this study will be solved simply by reducing the number of companies supported is an aberration. If we want to tackle the problem of the precariousness of cultural actors, this must be done in consultation with them and their associations. The Syndicat suisse romand du spectacle calls for this to be done quickly.

Read too: Switzerland in farce at Avignon Festival


Anne Papilloud is general secretary of the Syndicat suisse romand du spectacle. Vincent Babel and Jean-Pierre Potvliege are the co-chairs.

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