Founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar, the Festival d’Avignon is one of the most important contemporary performing arts events in the world. 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 theater-lovers of all ages. The Festival manages 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 festival-goers discuss the shows and share their experiences as spectators. For a month, everyone can have access to a contemporary and living culture.
The programme includes shows, but also readings, exhibitions, films, and debates, which are so many gateways into the worlds of the artists and intellectuals invited to the Festival. Every evening, there is at least one show première, making Avignon a place of true creation and adventure for artists and spectators alike.
“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.