The Channel, national scene of Calais (Pas-de-Calais), is a place of life marked by hospitality: two long industrial naves separated by aisles spin in parallel towards a high marquee. On the left, a row of pavilions. In the distance, a belvedere. In the bays, wooden pagodas where young people laze. Behind the brick walls, a bookshop, a bar, a restaurant, workshops and performance halls. Upstairs, offices and accommodation for visiting musicians, circus artists, choreographers or directors. Located in former slaughterhouses renovated by the architect Patrick Bouchain, this cultural citadel inaugurated in 2007 multiplies the reasons to cross its front door.
The Channel is not a place you leave easily. Francis Peduzzi has been its director since 1991. This old-fashioned boss, who doesn’t miss a performance, doesn’t want to leave. However, he may be forced to do so. According to articles in the local press (the town hall refused to respond to our interview requests), Natacha Bouchart, mayor of Calais since 2008, would like a new artistic project, led by another director, to see the light of day .
Between the elected (ex-Les Républicains and now support of Emmanuel Macron) and the man of culture, the current does not p. The theater is suffering from the cascading reductions in municipal subsidies – yet fixed, with the help of a multi-year contract of objectives (CPO) signed between all the supervisory authorities, at nearly 900,000 euros per year. But the account is no longer there.
Amputation of 350,000 euros
Francis Peduzzi lists the figures: minus 200,000 euros in 2020, minus 100,000 in 2021, minus 145,000 in 2022. In 2023, the theater must manage with 550,000 euros (the amputation has, this time, reached the €350,000). The doubling of its energy bill having, moreover, precipitated the accounts in the red, the coming seasons are declined in the conditional. The director advances blindly. On June 30, the CPO which bound it for three years to its partners will be reworked. On December 31, the city, owner of the site, could withdraw the authorization of temporary occupation from which it benefits and which expires.
Faced with such uncertainties, there is cause for concern. After a mobilization of support which rallied nearly 8,000 signatures (including that of Julien Gosselin, director and child of the country), Francis Peduzzi now invokes the institutional time and the urgency of finalizing the next CPO: “It takes a year of negotiations and fierce discussions on the smallest comma to establish this text which defines the project of the place and the commitments of each one. The city, which had validated it in 2020 in full knowledge of the facts, behaves as if its signature did not oblige it in any way. Therefore, the question arises: how to ask a whole profession (structures and supervision) to sign CPOs knowing that those who do not respect it have no problem? »
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