Founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar, the Festival d’Avignon is one of the world's most important contemporary performing arts events. Every year in July, Avignon becomes a city-theater, transforming its architectural heritage into various majestic and surprising performance venues, welcoming tens of thousands of theatre lovers of all ages. The Festival succeeds to bring together a popular audience and cutting-edge international creation. Avignon is also a state of mind: the city is an open-air forum where festivalgoers meet and discuss shows sharing their experiences as spectators. During a month, everyone can have access to vibrant and contemporary performing arts.
The programme includes shows, but also readings, exhibitions, films, and debates, all of which provide an insight into the world of the invited artists and intellectuals. Every evening, there are one or more openings, making Avignon a place of artistic creation and adventure both for artists and spectators.
“To provide theatre, and collective art, with something other than indoors spaces; to reconcile architecture and dramatic poetry.” – Jean Vilar
The Festival's directors are appointed by the board, and have to be formally approved by the Mayor of Avignon and the French Minister of Culture. Since Jean Vilar, the artistic director has been entirely free to draw his or her programme up. This independence from any interference has always been guaranteed, regardless of the political context.