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Shows nixed at Avignon Theatre Festival Saturday as French arts workers strike

Avignon festival director Olivier Py pictured on March 20, 2014.
Avignon festival director Olivier Py pictured on March 20, 2014. AFP/BERTRAND LANGLOIS

Six of the thirteen performances scheduled for this Saturday at the renowned Avignon Festival have been cancelled over strikes, according to the festival’s director Olivier Py.

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The axed shows stem from performing artists and technicians protesting government plans to cut their unemployment benefits.

Five performances, including the Prince of Homburg by German author Heinrich von Kleist, which had cancelled its opening on July 4th, should be held on Saturday.

Doubt remained over whether the day’s last two shows would be held.

France’s art workers had threatened for months to boycott the country’s summer festivals over the proposed changes to their special status that allows them to draw unemployment benefits between jobs.

The system supports some 100,000 casual festival workers – known as “intermittents” – and provides them unemployment compensation two times higher than the average unemployed person.

The festival workers say the proposed changes would make it impossible for them to earn a living and would be detrimental to supporting French culture.

A similar dispute in 2003 forced Avignon's organizers to cancel a large swathe of the programme.

The festival attracts one hundred and twenty eight thousand theatre-goers to the southern French city each year.
 

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