The corona virus crisis affects the whole world. We have entered into strange period where more than half of humanity is forced to stay at home. Avignon is severely impacted by this confinement and the festival had to be cancelled.
Avignon facing the corona virus
The Vaucluse department has been fairly spared from the pandemic. In fact, at present, there are only 29 dead (23 in hospital and 6 in EPHAD). The strong rurality of the government as well as strong measures can be at the origin of this assessment. The prefect has prohibited any short-term rental, the government did not see an influx of vacationers for the Easter holidays like other territories.
The epidemic is declining which is good news. However, the lockdown is planned untill May 11 because health workers are feared of second wave of virus.
Measures taken for lockdown
The municipal corporation has taken good precautions by providing 3,50,000 masks in order to have it for every citizen in Avignon. This order is funded 50% by Grand Avignon and 50% by the municipalities.
To complete this order, Cécile Helle, the mayor of Avignon, decided to order 150,000 additional masks. This order, funded 100% by the town hall, which will allow each Avignon resident to have two masks as soon as they finishes lockdown.
The consequences of the corona virus crisis on the city:
This report shows one of the realities on the consequences of the corona virus crisis. In April, Easter holidays begins with the tourist season. This year, the tourist season has not started and we do not know when it will start.
The Avignon festival had to be canceled. This festival is the largest theater festival in the world. Last year, there were over 1,500 plays over the 3 weeks of the festival. This festival which exists since 1947 had only one cancellation. It was in 2003, in the midst of an intermittent entertainment crisis.
What is Avignon Festival:
Avignon Festival is the grouping of three festivals.
The first one is created by Jean Vilar. This festival is the institutional and subsidised festival. It takes place over 20 days in 30 exceptional places including the courtyard of the Palais des Papes. Since 2014, the In festival has been directed by Olivier Py.
Until few days ago, we believed the possibility of starting the festival in July. Unfortunately, the French government having prohibited all gatherings or shows until July 15, it is like death of a soul when Olivier Py announced the cancellation of the festival In.
The second festival is the so-called off festival. It brings independent companies and theatres. This festival emerged in 1966 when André Benédetto decided to open his theater, the Carmes theater during the In festival. After tumultuous years, the Off festival is organized as today’s the biggest theater festival in the world. Following the announcement by Olivier Py and the government, the director of the Avignon festival and companies association decided to cancel the Off festival. As this festival is independent, each theatre can do whatever it wants after July 15th.
Finally the third festival is the Villeneuve festival. This festival is under the sign of start and roaming around. The theatre rubs shoulders with the circus or the street arts in a relaxed and cheerful atmosphere. This festival is the shortest of the three. It takes place over 12 days. It is nevertheless very much linked to the other two. In addition, it was going to take place between July 7 and July 19, 2020 but the ban on any festival before July 15 makes it impossible to hold this festival.
Consequences of canceling the festival
With the cancellation of these three festivals, the entire economic situation of the city is impacted. In a few figures, the Avignon festival brings 700,000 visitors to the city in three weeks. It represents 52% of the city’s revenues. For restaurant owners, hoteliers and other shops in the city center, the turnover made during the festival can represent up to 80% of the annual turnover. Many students find summer jobs in the festival time as waiters, poster maker, opener etc.
Avignon being the fifth poorest city in France, the cancellation of the festival is going to create big chaos whose consequences will be visible very quickly.
The night owls of Avignon in 2020
Retrospective of the last two years.
Since 2018, I have created the Night owls of Avignon in order to discover Avignon that I love in an original way. Indeed, I suggest you to visit the city in the night in original tours. I want you to discover the hidden places, small alleys full of history and significant events of the city.
I work closely with the tourist office to be able to offer the best of the city to tourists but also to locals.
In a spirit of always offering new experiences to the greatest number, I had to launch the pre Noctambule to visit a magical place in the city, the Rocher des Doms.
I had to continue my participation with the festival like last year. In short, the season was believed to be rich and intense.
A tough decision to make against the corona virus:
With the lockdown until May 11, the season will start badly. As a tourism professional, I lost the Easter holidays as I thought I could open the Night owls from May 15th.
The cancellation of the festival as well as the closing of restaurants and bars until July 15 was right for my optimism.
If I want to be able to perpetuate the Night owls and continue to offer you innovative tours, I must take a heavy decision. As a young self company, I could not benefit from a state-guaranteed credit. I do not have the right to aid which does not take into account the reality of the world of tourism for the moment. So I have to find a way to finance the 2020 season and the 2021 season.
This is why the Night owls of Avignon will remain closed until the beginning of September. To be able to save the Night owls, I have to sacrifice the 2020 season and I will be opening from September to December alongside other activities.
The corona virus crisis forces us to make choices. I will be delighted to introduce you to Avignon from September and especially throughout the 2021 season.
Stay safe and stay healthy