In Switzerland, an “art rush” with limited gauges

“We may not have reached the end of the tunnel, but we are starting to see the light. ” If Edna Epelbaum admits a still fragile health situation (with 1,615 new cases of Covid-19 on average over the last seven days and 10,000 deaths for 8.6 million inhabitants), the president of the Swiss Film Association is jubilant. Since the deconfinement of cultural places, Monday, April 19, the Swiss public rushes into the theaters. “We had all started to watch movies in streaming, but the spectators lacked the experience of the big screen”, testifies Aude Vermeil, Director of Function: Cinema, a professional association for independent cinema. Same enthusiasm for the performing arts: “The public was thirsty for culture. We regained awareness of our need for contact ”, slips the general secretary of the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Carole Trousseau-Ballif.

Denis Maillefer, co-director of the Comédie de Genève: “It’s absurd and sad. We can not help but compare with the buses or the crowded terraces ”

The health protocol imposed by the Federal Council during this reopening remains surprising, however. With a reception capacity limited to fifty people, or to a third for the smallest rooms, the players in the sector are struggling to relaunch their activity. “It’s absurd and sad. We can not help but compare with the buses or the crowded terraces ”, deplores Denis Maillefer, co-director of the Comédie de Genève, while bars and restaurants can receive people outside since mid-April. “Fifty people is nothing in terms of revenue. I obviously cannot amortize our costs ”, recalls Christian Berner, financial director of the Zurich Opera.

The important 1,200-seat institution has nevertheless resumed performances every evening since the 1er may. Ballets, recitals, small operas: “We try to present works to the public without going bankrupt because we prefer to have fifty people rather than zero”, explains Christian Berner. This means in particular renouncing guest artists, these foreign lyrical singers usually invited to participate in an opera, or continue to receive short-time working to finance new productions. With the same concern for economy, other theaters have chosen to open only occasionally, such as the Comédie de Genève, which gave, on Wednesday May 5, No paraderan (Marco Berrettini) for fifty people in its large hall with 500 seats. “It’s more of an opening than a reopening, regrets Denis Maillefer. But it’s important for our audience. “

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