Attendance at the Rencontres d’Arles, which ended on September 26, is down 22%: the major photography festival welcomed 112,000 visitors in 2021, compared to 145,000 in 2019 (the event could not be hold in 2020 due to the health crisis). But the organizers rather cry victory: “The schoolchildren could not come this year in September, by decision of the rectorate, specifies the director of the Meetings, Christoph Wiesner. However, we still receive between 10,000 or 11,000 children. Considering the exceptional circumstances, for us these are very good figures! ”
Indeed, remind the organizers, in many respects, the 2021 edition was particularly complicated because of the pandemic: the festival had to prepare its program of 35 blind exhibitions, without knowing on which gauges to base itself, nor even if the works or the artists could travel. It was also necessary to introduce the health pass a week just after the opening in July. And bet on the return of the public, despite the mask, in the exhibition rooms. “This year was a huge challenge for the teams, but they took it up, rejoices Aurélie de Lanlay, the deputy director of the festival. The main thing is that the public wanted to come, and attendance was sustained, even in September, until the last weekend. ”
Budget in balance
The festival, which usually receives 15% of foreigners, saw their share drop slightly to 10%, the absence of American and Asian visitors being partly offset by the presence of Europeans. According to Aurélie de Lanlay, ticket sales will allow the festival, which depends 55% on its own resources, to balance its budget.
Among the most frequented exhibitions, that dedicated to the dean of humanist photography, the Franco-Swiss Sabine Weiss, the press and fashion images of a new generation of black photographers, “The New Black Vanguard”, as well as the great journey around the representation of men, “Masculinities”. The next festival will take place from July 4, 2022.