1# Finalising the Avant Courrier’s regulations charter
Starting last spring, our charter was first focused on telework. Back then, its purpose was to structure our day-to-day operations when working from home and help maintain collective face-to-face meetings. This way, we could make sure the collective would keep running properly (the collective refers to the five production and booking managers of the Avant Courrier). The charter has now become a much broader set of internal regulations and has been strengthened by the new considerations that drafting such a document brings to light.
The charter covers questions regarding our daily office-to-home commute (kilometre-based reimbursement for public transport AND cycling), the introduction of menstrual leave and, more broadly, additional exceptional days off that do not require justification (while writing this I’m tucked under my blanket, dealing with horrendous PMS … oh dear).
The drafting of the charter has also opened up new opportunities to work on our priorities and wishes for a more inclusive workplace and to take part in the fight against intersectional violence (sexism, racism, LGBTQI+-phobic violence, ableism, etc.). It has allowed us to consider how we want to educate ourselves, what we want to do and how we can improve inclusion or join in the struggle … and it’s been fascinating! BTW, if you are interested in these matters and know of organisations that can provide training or resources, we’ll be happy to have a chitchat about it over the phone or over a beer at Le Printemps café, our new headquarters on Dalby Boulevard!
2# Professional life stories: OUR LIVES, OUR MASTERPIECE …
During the Long Courrier (as a quick reminder, it consists of a two-day meeting that we hold every three months where we discuss the substantive/structural issues of the Avant Courrier), we took part in a ‘story of life exercise’, a storytelling technique that we approached through the lens of our professional career.
For one hour in a safe, attentive environment and without being interrupted, participants told the story of their professional career following a specific method. Starting from our families and ancestors, we then questioned factual elements (jobs, salaries, locations) as well as the mythical figures and strong values that are present in all families until we unfolded our own professional journey, ending on conclusions and analyses. Following the story, those in attendance were able to ask questions and formulate hypotheses. This exercise is both gentle and intimate when the story takes place and powerful and political, as it allows us to recontextualise our experience in a meta way whilst providing a new perspective on our journey.
3# FRAME of reference
At the Avant Courrier, we are currently exploring the way in which we produce shows. We would like to encourage a closer dialogue between the artist behind a project and the programmers, the professionals in the field and the audience. One way to do so is to invite three to four people to take part in the very first phase of the artistic proposal: one programmer, one person who isn’t directly related to the project but knows about the stakes of production and programming, and one person who isn’t involved in the performing arts. Our idea is to have these participants carefully read the project presentation, then close the document and complete a ‘reading report’. This exercise allows us to see what may be unclear in the project but also what makes it unique (and powerful, too) and which aspects remain too vague or too classic.
Last autumn, Viivi took part in the exercise with the presentation of her new solo show V. (Thanks for bearing with us in our experimental endeavours!) In early December, we will host a session to tell you more about it. But thanks to the participants’ feedback, this first attempt has already allowed us to reconsider the reading grid system that we had proposed and the way we pass on our feedback to the artist (and for what purpose). We are also considering introducing an additional programmer amongst the participants so we can gather the opinion of professionals from different types of structures (multi-disciplinary and circus-only focused, for example).
Pauline agrees to continue the experiment with her new project Santa.
It is too early for us to draw any conclusions from this experiment, but we will keep you posted.
4# festival LES AVANT CURYEAHHH
The bright sunshine on ONYX, the participation of laid-back local professionals and a series of meals/snacks/apéros combined with all your interesting projects are what made this day particularly worth it. Thank you for your positive feedback! The pros were singing from the same songbook—how empowering!
5# News from our ARTIST WORKMATES
If we were only to let you know about just a few of the ongoing projects at the Avant Courrier, we would have to tell you about Viivi being pre-selected for Circusnext Europe, which means she will get support for her production and the opportunity—as of early 2023—to be part of a residency in Europe. In May, she will present her work in progress in front of an audience of European professionals in Paris (Showtime!).
Pascaline, whom we support on the touring of the Petits Bonnets, has become an associate artist at Cirque Jules Vernes in Amiens!
Since we must also share the less pleasant news, the show Cry Me a River has no more touring prospects at the moment and will probably not tour again. The reasons are many, and we already had the chance to talk about them on social media (là!) but the point here is to say that we’re saddened by the situation and that we’re sending all our admiration to the artists for the work they have accomplished.
6# ENTERING FREE DALBY
Our new office space is awesome! After a series of rollercoaster-like adventures, we moved in mid-October. So here we are, settled in the former Dalby real estate agency with our fellow adventurers: Nico from Curios and Fabien and Céline from MonstR.
We’ve got plenty of light and a meeting room, we’re only a block away from the main train station, and once a week we get lunch at the best café in Nantes: Le Printemps. This new space gives us the chance to see you, the people of Nantes, more often. And as the new office is a four-minute walk from her home, Nolwenn has stopped cycling (!!!!!!!!!)—but she has started rowing again, so please do not contact her on Thursdays from noon to 2 pm.
Also, we’re thinking that on certain days, we could invite some of our ‘isolated’ colleagues also working on production and touring to come join us at the office.
But before all that, we threw a housewarming party. It was on December 9 with hot wine, oysters and Christmas songs.
7# Successful renewal of La Nantaise de diffusion
The title says it all. La Nantaise (a group of producers in Nantes who meet to share work practices) which had lost some of its steam, regained energy thanks to newcomers and a new format. Inspiring!
The sessions are structured around a time of transmission on a specific topic and led by either a member of the organisation or a guest. These sessions are sometimes organised around the visit of a cultural landmark in the Nantes conurbation. The next meetings will take place at the LU in Nantes and at Capellia, the cultural centre in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre.
8# TRAINING PROGRAMMES
Last October at Espace Périphérique, Lisa, for the first time, trained participants on show touring and production. Hell yeaaaah! All ears were wide open, and the participants’ brains were plump with new knowledge. Before the session, the structure of our ‘typical’ two-day training course was refined. And during the session, Louise-Michèle sneaked in with the participants to ‘test’ the new framework, support Lisa and prepare herself; next time, at the BIAC on January 23-24, she’ll be the one in charge.
The next sessions will take place at Quai des Chaps from January 30 to February 4 (production and touring training by the Avant Courrier and administration by Valéria from La Volte) clik clik clik and from March 20 to 24 with the CNAC—hooray!
9# Despite inflation, Nolwenn will go to Chile in January
After 10 years of working with Chilean artists, we want to explore new connections that can go beyond the touring of shows. We’d like to see if any partnerships could be set up, especially regarding research and promotion of the productions. Nolwenn will therefore be attending the Global Crossing Chile meetings organised by the Circostrada network (hey … how come production companies can’t take part in this event? … it doesn’t make any sense).
She will then continue her journey further south, meeting artists and exploring places such as Circo Kokhoska, Circo Lacustre, ko-Pinquie. And of course, as always, what keeps us moving forward is above all your projects and ideas, so you will probably hear all about her trip when she returns.
10# PÔLE is born
Since December 9, the performing arts community has had its own sector-specific department in the Pays de la Loire area: the Pôle Spectacle Vivant. Nolwenn has spent quite some time in the office there the past few months, hoping that it will become a tool for observation, training and a way to connect all local cultural institutions—and not just the biggest ones. She now hopes to spend less time there, but the ongoing reform of the regional cultural policy (a true wreck >> we’ll keep you posted) suggests that we will soon have to rally together and swing into action.