French president Emmanuel Macron spent about 30 minutes this afternoon presenting his proposals for the country’s cultural sector which has been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis. Most notably for local artists and technicians who work on a periodic basis, Macron said he hopes to extend their unemployment insurance benefits through August 2021. The so-called “intermittents du spectacle” status applies to about 100,000 workers annually based on whether they meet the necessary threshold of time worked.
But this year, “many of them will not be able to complete their required hours,” Macron noted given the COVID-19 lockdown has halted TV and film shoots around the country and shut theater productions. Effectively setting the meter back to zero for when the industry is in better shape, Macron in the meantime called on the workers to come to schools to help organize extracurricular activities which will be paid for by the state.
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Macron also said he wished to see the creation of a temporary indemnity fund for TV and film projects that were forced to shut down over the past two months, pointing out that it will be very difficult for production to concretely resume before the end of May.
May 11 will mark the start of France easing lockdown, though as we have previously reported, French cinemas will remain closed next week with a decision on an opening date due to be announced June 2. All festivals and other events that draw crowds of more than 5,000 people are banned until at least the end of August.
With his shirt sleeves rolled up, Macron told the nation, “We have to make this a summer of learning and culture… Next season, we’re going to have to be inventive. I don’t know where this epidemic will be… Will we be able to return to our usual seasons? I don’t know.” It is not yet clear when the measures he suggested today may be reviewed.
Macron’s scheduled remarks came a day after French producer Carole Scotta penned an op-ed in Le Monde criticizing the French government’s response to the entertainment sector’s woes amid coronavirus. On Tuesday, she wrote, “Seven billion euros to revive the aeronautical industry, nothing yet for film and television, which nevertheless accompany us daily in our confined life… In the absence of strong political thought and substantial resources, the cultural sector may well not be able to recover from the crisis it is suffering.”
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