The Festival d'Avignon

Le Prince de Hombourg, Giorgio Barberio Corsetti, Cour d'honneur du Palais des papes, 2014 © Christophe Raynaud de Lage

Artistic Project

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.

Facts and Figures

Every edition of the Festival:

  • offers about 45 shows from France and abroad, for a total of about 300 performances and over 400 events, including panels, debates, and screenings. 80% of the shows are original creations or are having their French premiere at the Festival.

  • also includes the Workshops of Thought, which brings together researchers, philosophers, and activists; encounters with the artists of the Festival; readings of texts written specifically for the Festival; film screenings; and exhibitions, all of which turn the Festival into a celebration of thought and discovery. There are about one hundred such events as part of 14 programmes, and most of them are free.

  • transforms more than 20 locations, most of them historical and outdoors, into scenic venues, very diverse in terms of both architecture and maximum occupancy (from 50 to 2,000 seats).

  • issues about 125,000 tickets for paid shows and welcomes about 30,000 spectators to its free events such as debates, panels, readings, etc. Roughly 38% of its audience comes from Avignon and its area, 28% from Ile-de-France, 23% from other French regions, and 11% from abroad. In recent years, the Festival has had an average attendance rate of over 90%.

  • welcomes more than 600 French and foreign journalists, who write more than 2,000 articles about the Festival. A number of television and radio broadcasts are also recorded live. All major print media send correspondents to the Festival, which is also covered by about 50 photographers.

  • 12% of festivalgoers are professionals of the performing arts (programme directors, producers, communication and public relations teams), and 20% are there for professional reasons (companies, journalists, etc.). They come to discover shows, work on future productions, and organise panels about the performing arts and cultural policies. A true professional forum, the Festival and the Institut supérieur des techniques du spectacle also organise debates and panels to present new points of view and research axis. It is a unique moment in European cultural life.

  • prints 60,000 copies of the programmes and 9,000 copies of the guide of the young spectator each year. In 2019, the Festival reduced its paper consumption by 2 tonnes

  • the Festival’s website, available in both French and English, receives more than 4 million page views a year. A mobile application was launched in 2019, replacing the spectator’s guide. In 2022, the mobile app has been downloaded more than 25,000 times. 190,000 people follow one or more of the Festival’s 4 social media accounts, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

  • has a budget of 17 million euros for 2022 (excluding benefits in kind from the City and the Agglomeration), whose expenses are distributed as follows: 71% for programming, producing and co-producing, and cultural activities; 29% for the technical facilities and operating of the Festival's various performance venues and for upkeep (including that of La FabricA). 55% of its resources come from public subsidies (25% from the French government, 6% from the City of Avignon including benefits in kind, 4% from the Communauté d'Agglomération du Grand Avignon including benefits in kind, 5% from the Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 4% from the Département de Vaucluse), 38% from its own revenue (ticket sales, sponsors, non-commercial partnerships, specific partnerships, show sales, etc.) and 8% from other revenues (investments, specific funds).

  • has established long-term relationships with sponsors, first and foremost the Fondation Crédit Coopératif. The Festival has set up a circle of partner companies bringing together about fifteen small and medium-sized businesses as well as a circle of individual sponsors.

  • generates economic benefits for the region’s culture and tourism industry estimated to about 50 million euros.

Concurrently with the Festival d'Avignon, the Off welcomes more than 1,000 companies performing on their own initiative and with their own funding in a hundred different venues.

Contact the Festival d’Avignon