Pyrénées-Orientales: the business of summer festivals

This summer 2022 will surely see a record number of festivals organized in the department. With at least eighteen such events in the four corners of the Pyrénées-Orientales. A business that can prove lucrative for organizers, whether private or public, and constitute a strong tourist argument, according to the latest studies on the subject. But, to stand out and attract ever more audiences, investment is essential. Deciphering the economic stakes of festivals with the two local behemoths: Les Déferlantes and Electrobeach.

In 2022 more than ever, given the competition, the festivals of the Pyrénées-Orientales want to do well. For that, no secret: you have to invest.

At Frontera production, the move of Les Déferlantes from Argelès-sur-Mer to Céret is a very important economic issue. Ultimately, Les Déferlantes want to be one of the five biggest festivals in France. To compete with the Vieilles Charrues (270,000 spectators in 2019) or Solidays (228,000 festival-goers in 2019), the Def’ must invest heavily. “This year we have 55 artists who are referencesexplains Fabrice Lorente, co-director of La Frontera, post-Covid programming costs have skyrocketed. Some managers are asking for fees that greatly exceed the 30% increase compared to 2019. But we want to ramp up. The cost of the 2022 program is exactly double that of 2019.

After two years of scarcity, faced with the collective resumption of festivals, artists are inflating the price of these services which are their main source of income. “Since the crisis of the disc, the musicians live thanks to the live, that is to say their tours and the festivals“, confirms Fabrice Lorente. But it takes that to stand out in the department.

We exploded the initial budget which was 9 million euros

By catching the big Muse fish, the Déferlantes have strengthened their communication beyond the borders of the Pyrénées-Orientales, focusing in particular on southern Catalonia. This all has a cost. A month and a half before the festival, the expenses have not been finalized. “We exploded the initial budget which was 9 million eurosassures the co-director of La Frontera. This year, we will not be in profitability. We know it. Our revenue is divided into thirds and comes from ticketing, private partnerships and on-site consumption“.

The Déferlantes bet has not yet succeeded, but certain signals are on the green. The ticket office has been constantly and gradually increasing since its opening. The symbolic threshold of 17,000 places, i.e. the capacity of Valmy, is exceeded every evening.

These major events inevitably have repercussions on the territory’s economy. If the Déferlantes are going to carry out a study in this direction this year, the Electrobeach du Barcarès had already calculated it before the Covid era. In 2019, the last normal year for this sector of activity, the mayor of Barcarès Alain Ferrand explained that for an investment of 8 million euros, the direct and indirect economic benefits were around 25 million euros. . An envelope that was found in transport, accommodation, catering and leisure. Because the Electrobeach festival-goers, who numbered more than 150,000 in 2019, sometimes come from afar to attend the event. While 35% are from Occitania, 55% come from other regions and 11% are internationals. “We are a festival of general interest for the city of Barcarès, but also for the territoryinsists Alain Ferrand. We have created a whole ecosystem around Electrobeach which is a tremendous promotion of the department on a national scale.

For this 2022 edition, the investment devoted to Electrobeach is “substantially equivalent to 2019, although we have been weakenedassumes the mayor of Barcarès. In 2020, we had already paid the artists, so it was a loss. Then, we had to reimburse the festival-goers who wanted it. And we didn’t get any help. Local institutions do not support us when we should be working together given the economic benefits generated by Electrobeach“.

“Multiply the festivals yes, but in harmony with the calendar”

On June 17 and 18, Maury is celebrating the 20e edition of Women’s Voices. Louane, Camelia Jordana or Marie-Flore make up the poster for this anniversary event. This festival, organized by the municipality, attracts between 2,000 and 4,000 spectators per evening, depending on the artists programmed. “We are not trying to blow up the gauges but just to respect the financial balance and to have a fund to start again the following year, concedes Charles Chivilo, the city councilor. Our role is above all to bring culture to the heart of rural areas so that it is not concentrated in places that are already touristy.“. And if Voice of Women has always found its place among the summer festivals, the chief magistrate has some concerns. “It’s a big disappointment that Bacchus got on our dates. I am totally in favor of the multiplication of festivals but we must respect the harmony of the calendar“.

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