Covid France: Summer 2021 festivals limited to 5,000 people

The culture minister confirmed the limit, and announced a new €30 million relief fund for festivals

19 February 2021
Crowds at the Vielles Charrues festival in a previous year. Covid France: Summer 2021 festivals limited to 5,000 peopleThe Vieilles Charrues festival, which had 270,000 visitors in 2019, has told the AFP that it will be “prepared to adapt"
By Hannah Thompson

Summer festivals in France will this year be permitted a maximum of 5,000 seated people due to the continued Covid-19 crisis, the minister for culture has said.

Entertainment union le Syndicat des musiques actuelles (SMA) told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) of the plans, after an interview with Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot.

Aurélie Hannedouche, from the SMA, said: “We know a bit more about the general context, but there are still grey areas. What we know for sure is that the 2021 festival season will be unlike any other.”

Festival aid

Ms Bachelot also announced the provision of €30 million of financial support for festivals.

The funds will come from music centre le Centre national de la musique (CNM) and cultural group la Direction régionale des affaires culturelles (DRAC).

They will be available for festival organisers that rearrange their events to meet the new 5,000 limit, and for those that cancel their events completely.

She said: “This is the first step [and] this fund will be replenished if necessary."

A €15 million aid package has also been announced to help with event recordings.

Ms Hannedouche said that some issues were still unclear, such as whether bars or food stalls would be allowed, which will depend on the reopening of “the restaurant sector”.

She said: “We want to organise festivals this summer, but not at any cost. We are waiting for strong guidance from the President or the prime minister on what is happening with the restart of the cultural sector.”


Festivals’ response

Already, the Vieilles Charrues festival, which had 270,000 visitors in 2019, has told the AFP that it would be “prepared to adapt”.

Director Jérôme Tréhorel told the AFP that the culture minister would be holding “a monthly appointment” with music festivals to keep them updated on the changing situation.

He said: “We could very well move to a standing set-up, if the health situation allows.

“I was worried that there would be no announcement at all, or that all festivals would be banned. At the Vielles Charrues, we will adapt. It will not be silent in Carhaix [the Breton town where the festival is held]; this will be the summer of getting together.”

Yet, Paris festival Solidays, which attracted 228,000 people in 2019, said that it would not be going ahead, as its organisers doubted that it would be viable - especially as the event helps to raise money for AIDS charity Solidarité Sida.

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