Last Thursday (22 October), France’s recently-appointed culture minister Roselyne Bachelot announced a series of financial support measures for various cultural industries, including €85 million for the live music sector, and €30 million for cinemas.
The measures were introduced to support the arts and culture sector throughout a six-week semi-lockdown period, which commenced on 17 October, with Bachelot thanking industry professionals for their “commitment to continue to offer the public access to culture under strict health and safety conditions”.
Notably absent from her proposals, however, was the nightclub sector, which has prompted techno legend Laurent Garnier to issue a cutting statement on his website, criticising the “blatant disregard” the French government appears to have for the nightlife industry.
“As an Officier des Arts et des Lettres, Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (awarded by a former Minister of Culture who has long recognised the importance of nightlife in the vast cultural, creative space) and a DJ globetrotter (like other artists from our country, I indirectly promoted France for more than 30 years abroad), I stupidly thought that things had evolved and that together with my comrades, we had earned our status and our ticket to the ‘world of culture’ with dignity,” Garnier wrote.
“But it is clear that apparently this is still not the case.”
He went on to explain that while the performing arts and cinema sectors have “suffered terribly” since the start of the pandemic, venues were still able to reopen, despite a complicated series of health guidelines.
“On the other hand, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that, since the beginning of March, the ‘nightlife and clubbing’ sectors (of which I am intrinsically a part) has completely come to a standstill,” Garnier wrote. “For us the party is over, and it has been for eight long months now.
“You are aware that like theatres, cinemas and performance halls, clubs employ (apart from the artists and DJ’s who perform there) the same plethora of diverse and varied personnel as in the rest of the cultural landscape. Whether at the bar, at the cash desk, in the cloakroom… as well as the managers, security, technical staff, lighting technicians, VJs, promoters, bookers, labels, graphic designers, printers. Not to forget the indirect economic impact – suppliers, catering, hotels, transport, etc.”
Suggesting that the current status of the nightlife scene means that he is now perhaps a “dead artist” or “not an artist at all”, Garnier keeps his most shining rebuke for the end of his statement.
“The blatant disregard and the ignorance emanating from your ministry towards the nightlife and club sector is clearly interpreted by many of us as a form of incomprehensible contempt. Because whether you like it or not, the clubs and places that supported this nocturnal culture were, when they were open, places bubbling with creation, imagination and sharing.”