1# Give her a break
From April to September 2024, Nolwenn will be on sabbatical. At L’Avant Courrier, we’ll be running operations without the presence of our High Priestess of small revolutions, major upheavals, and all-around ties to the circus world in all its guises (SCC, PAN, local representatives, Nantaise de la diff, and so on). We nonetheless wish her a beautiful and exciting adventure ahead. To talk about the break she will be taking, here’s a message Nol, as we call her, would like to share with you:
“Why am I taking a break?
More than a year ago, I expressed to my colleagues at the collective my desire to take a break and go on a trip with my family. From a one-year project in Chile, it gradually evolved into a five-month sabbatical (from mid-April to mid-September) involving some travelling; time with my three boys, as they will be out of school; and some time spent with myself. It’s no accident that this pause comes the year I’ll be turning 40. I feel a kind of ‘midlife crisis’ type of urge. A longing to pursue some of the things I’ve dreamed of or hoped to achieve before my children are too grown up and won’t tag along with me anymore. With this feeling comes an urge that I hadn’t put into words at first: a desire to reconsider my career and the meaning I give to it.
“‘Drawing up a new contract with my own values.’ It’s a strange way to phrase it, but that’s how I truly feel: I need to take a good look in the mirror, with honesty. After spending 15 years working in supporting artists, where do I really stand? Do I still want to go down this road? How can I carry on in a different way? In some ways, have I lost sight of what I first came into the field for? I’m not sure I’ll find all the answers, but I’m happy to take the time to search for them. It’s also a true luxury to be able to do so with financial means (thanks to the French income support for workers in the entertainment field) and the guarantee that I’ll have a job when I come back (thanks to L’Avant Courrier).
“I could write you a whole book about what goes through my mind, and it may sometimes involve angry thoughts, especially when I take a closer look at the ecosystem of the performing arts industry, but that’s not the purpose of this gazette.”
2# HB TO YOU L’AVANT COURRIER
What a feast! Ten years of production and tour management, 8 L’Avant Courrier gals, 4 festivals of Les Avant Curieux, 3 different offices, 26 shows we’ve supported, 20 training programmes provided. Time to celebrate! You’ve already received the invitation; the venue for our midnight mass is booked! What’s left now is to prepare one hell of a fun programme.
Oh, and for those who are late: The party will take place on Friday, 12 April 2024 at Quai des Chaps!
You can already look forward to dinner, a disco ball party, and surprises. Any ideas and suggestions are welcome! We’ve got plenty in our bag of tricks, but the more the merrier.
So text us if you want to join in the fun. We can’t wait to celebrate with you! 🌷
3# Action-training? We’re delighted!
After a long gestation period, action-training has arrived! We’ve already told you all about it in the previous gazette. It’s a new long-term programme that alternates between training sessions (four 2-day modules + 1 day of one-to-one follow-up) and hands-on work. We managed to bring together 4 of our partners in tour management as well as 5 guest speakers for each session, so the best expertise can be provided all the while.
Nol, Lisa, and Louise-Michèle have worked hard on this great training programme, and we’re delighted to announce that it’s fully booked for 2024!
Here is the final programme:
#1: 25 and 26 January 2024 at Archaos – Pôle National Cirque, Marseille, during the entre2Biennale
#2: 25 and 26 March 2024 at Espace périphérique, a creative space belonging to the city of Paris
#3: 26 and 27 June 2024 at Le Plongeoir – Pôle National, during the Le Mans fait son Cirque festival
#4: 18 and 19 October 2024 at Festival Circolo, Tilburg (Netherlands)
#5: One day of one-to-one follow-up
4# MONTRÉAL, SO WHAT ?
Last July, Clem and Anne flew to Montreal for the International Market for Contemporary Circus (MICC)! The whole trip was funded by the Office Franco-Québécois for Youth (OFQJ)! Yveline Rapeau has since told us that she benefited from the same programme 20 years ago, not forgetting to mention the mischief she and her gang got into in New York City. Her story was quite worth it. Anyway, back to the topic at hand!
So what did we take away from these four days of MICC? To be honest, not much on touring shows on the other side of the pond. Despite all the meetings we arranged there, all the partners, as friendly and open-minded as they were about our projects, told us that they lacked the means to fly in teams and that they were mainly interested by larger shows from abroad.
However, we now have a number of key contacts in North America and, if something comes up, a better understanding of their approach.
More generally, it was a great professional opportunity. More than being heartwarming, these moments reminded us why we put our heart and soul into our projects.
Over 4 days, we were able to attend a series of project presentations we rarely hear of, featuring teams from every continent. Our alien cousins. We learned a lot during the round tables that were organised, both in terms of financial models and in terms of artistic forms.
There are so many of us working in this field all over the world! We may sometimes think we know everything about the contemporary circus and its norms — my foot! It felt like we only knew a small part of its aesthetics and forms. We met companies and partners from Australia, Morocco, Thailand, and the Ivory Coast who are defending practices and who have not hesitated to take advantage of this international event to put across anti-colonial messages. Believe it or not, the world of performing arts has its missionaries, too!
We were also able to visit another well-known but even more alien cousin: the headquarters of Cirque du Soleil. That visit itself would deserve three paragraphs!
In short, in addition to discovering beautiful Montreal, this trip was an opportunity to feel at home in this huge circus family and to remember that all around the world, the circus world is bustling with activity, each part in its own way.
5# MISSION TRANSMISSION
Last year, we decided to start working towards introducing the profession — and the university programmes leading to it — to young people who are not familiar with the world of performing arts.
After a number of more or less fruitful attempts to establish partnerships with schools and get middle school students to intern for us, we realised that the “civic service” programme was our best option to achieve our goal. Civic service is a French programme aimed at young people between the ages of 18 and 26. It’s a type of paid internship, but the key difference is that it’s open to people with no prior skills related to the mission.
We then contacted our local social partners to publicise the civic service offer, with the aim of reaching out to the youth of the Dalby and Malakoff neighbourhoods, who, if we were to generalise, rarely come to our shows or take part in our ecosystem. Unfortunately, this approach wasn’t effective. However, we did receive applications directly via the civic service website. After meeting several people, we decided to take on Anaïs!
Anaïs is not exactly an outsider, as she is an experienced amateur and has family members who work in the entertainment industry. However, she does not have a university degree nor any training related to the field. Anaïs started working with us in October and will be here until next April.
She works with us on tasks related to our experimentation project with audiences and comes along on trips when it can help her gain a better understanding of the profession.
We’re delighted to have her around! Perhaps a future touring manager? No pressure of courseee….
6# On set in Nantes: Opening credits for L’Avant Courrier team
Here we go, the shooting for our offbeat communication video clip is about to happen!
It will take place across the 27, 28, and 29 of November at ONYX and Le Printemps’ pub (naturally), and Alex will once again be behind the camera! It’s going to be a lot of fun. You’re too far to participate but we hope that you’ll like it !
Plus there will be a special english version 🔥
7# let’s get trained!
We’ve been talking about it for several months, but it hasn’t been an easy process to get it up and running. Though, here we are, about to train in the DASART feedback technique. It’s a theorised method that allows groups to develop tailor-made feedback based on the needs of the creative team using a playful and compassionate protocol.
There’s a film on it! achtung, no subtitles: https://vimeo.com/97319636.
We also wanted to involve the Pôle regional Cirque. The show will take place on 14 December at Le Plongeoir with their in-residence team, the company Mesdemoiselles, who we’d like to thank very much for accepting our proposition. The Plongeoir teams will joins us on the training and we also wanted to offer the ONYX teams the possibility of training with us, as we are now partner organisations(!) and it would encourage us to build things together.
We can’t wait to give you feedback on this method on feedback. Well, you get the idea.
Meanwhile, Lisa and Nolwenn will be taking the “Reflexivity, posture and tools for leading and facilitating a group” 3-day training course for instructors with le Point de Croix.
Anne will be attending the “Exploring conflict at work” programme in May 2024 with la Belle Ouvrage.
Clémence is tackling graphic design for ever more kitschy visuals with “Acquiring the best practices to be autonomous on InDesign (or Scribus)”, (3 days with ARTES) and will be completing the compulsory training course “Discovering your role as a civic service tutor” (1 day with Unis-Cités).
And Louise-Michèle ? More skills in grant applications with the programme « Build up European projects » during 3 days with ARTES.
8# Ongoing experiments at Dalby
Last June we told you about our wish to dedicate part of our experimentation work to new investigations. This aspect of our activity already existed, but in a fragmented way. Today, we want to embrace it and invest in it as an integral part of our work and our organisation.
In September, during our Long Courrier meeting, we took a look at the ongoing projects in our experimentation department, which we will be working on over the next few months.
We identified 3 types of projects:
The “what does it mean to be a producer” project, in which we’re going to be working on some very operational matters (the legality of our service and collaboration contracts, copyrights, etc.) and more reflective projects on the ways in which we work. We’re thinking of involving related structures (production companies) in these reflective projects as well as structures farther afield in order to broaden our horizons (cinema, contemporary music, etc.).
The work we’re doing with audiences is the one we’re most active in right now. It includes the work that Anaïs is going to do with groups of spectators, training in choral analysis, and other things we’ve yet to imagine!
Last but not least, the third project we’ve identified concerns human resources — a big topic! We’ll be addressing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and harassment, the stakes of parenthood, our will to investigate our work organisation and how to share our practices, and the definition of a protocol for dealing with conflicts, something we haven’t thought of yet (fortunately, we love each other!).
As you can tell, we’ve got some work on our plate!
You can consult our work schedule in the META CALENDAR, and we’ll be happy to tell you more about all these projects as they develop!
10# SGBV : NO MORE EXCUSES!
The anti-patriarchy force is on the march!
Sexual and gender-based violence and harassment is one of the issues that we plan to make fairly rapid progress between now and the summer of 2024. We’ve started by taking an SGBV training course to make sure we all have the same level of information within the collective and with you.
This will result in the creation of a protocol that we hope to draw up by next spring.
This protocol will be sent to each one of you so that you are kept informed of not only the legal framework but also the procedures put in place by L’Avant Courrier — in its role as an employer — to protect you from SGBV situations and the protocol for managing an SGBV situation. We will set up a go-to SGBV person within the L’Avant Courrier so you will know who to refer to.
Ideally, we’d even like to propose that you all take part in SGBV training. So we are thinking about organising an in-house training in 2024. We’ll keep you informed.
This is also a follow-up to the drafting of our internal regulations in 2022, in which we called for greater inclusion and better protection of female employees. This project is completely in line with this goal, and it strengthens us at a time when SGBV still has devastating impacts.