Non-Profit Social Responsibility and the Festival d’Aix
For several years, the Festival has been committed to a process of sustainable development in all its activities. Non-Profit Social Responsibility (NSR) is one of the Festival’s core values and has been included in its statutes since 2020. This commitment may be seen in the many initiatives carried out by the Festival, whether in its fight against discrimination, its defence of equality in the workplace, the promotion of its regional integration, or its dedication to making its programming accessible for all.
In its approach, the Festival relies on a participatory strategy based on the “wisdom of the crowd.” Specialised technical committees made up of volunteer employees, who are representative of the diversity of employment statuses and professions within the Festival, have been reflecting upon and proposing innovative solutions around a variety of themes including the environment, gender equality, and disability. A steering committee, in coordination with the management committee, helps structure these initiatives in preparation for their implementation.
EQUALITY / DIVERSITY
Among the priority projects driven by the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence are gender equality and the defence of diversity, notably by way of:
- The Festival's commitment to professional gender equality was publicly recognised through its attainment of AFNOR certification in September 2021. The Festival d'Aix-en-Provence is the first private cultural organisation to receive this official recognition. The label confirms the quality of the Festival’s human resources policies, and is part of a process of continual improvement over the upcoming years. In 2022, the Festival receives the AFNOR Diversity certification for its good practices, its commitment to equal opportunities, and its fight against discrimination.
- A "Gender Equality in the Workplace" action plan, updated and renewed annually, identifies the measures that need to be implemented in terms of recruitment. It also sets progress objectives for the improvement of working conditions and for a better balance between professional and personal life. The professional equality index, based on a series of regulatory indicators, further demonstrates this commitment. In 2021, the Festival obtained a score of 93 out of 100 (see index details).
- In order to fight against discrimination and against sexist and sexual violence in the workplace, the Festival has set up a listening unit composed of two employees who have been trained to receive, evaluate and deal with situations referred to them. In addition, two specialised instructional handbooks — one to help prevent workplace discrimination, and the other to fight against sexist and sexual violence at the workplace — have been designed with technical committees within the Festival and have been distributed to all employees, in conjunction with an internal communication campaign. These measures, coupled with a training and awareness plan, help all teams (i.e. permanent, seasonal, intermittent and artistic staff) to identify and react to situations of violence, whatever they may be.
> Download the Reporting and Preventing Sexist and Sexual Violence in the Workplace handbook (pdf)
> Download the Reporting and Preventing Workplace Discrimination handbook (pdf)
- The in-depth work carried out by the Académie and the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra to support the training and professional integration of young artists has been key in promoting the talents of women artists in the world of music and opera, and in facilitating their access to artistic careers — in particular, through a residency devoted to women conductors and another one dedicated to young women opera makers, which has received support from the Creative Europe programme. The projects of the Académie and the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra, conducted in coordination with Festival partners within the enoa and Medinea networks, also help to promote an intercultural dialogue and to support young artists in all their diversity.
- The Festival continuously strives to make its activities accessible to as many people as possible. For over a year, a specialised working group has been conducting internal surveys on the integration of persons with disabilities within the Festival teams. Awareness-raising sessions for interested parties have been organised. A project for reflection around the themes of recruitment and integration is currently underway.
- Audience diversity is one of the core missions of the Festival d’Aix. Since 2007, the Festival's educational and socio-artistic department (Passerelles) have addressed these concerns annually by offering a wide range of mediation initiatives, music workshops, and participatory projects with schools, non-profits, and stakeholders in the social, medico-social, healthcare and penal spheres. All participants are then invited to experience an opera or a concert during the Festival.
- Lastly, the Festival guarantees specialised attention for persons with disabilities, including seating in performance venues adapted to their specific needs. In 2022, 514 tickets across all performances were reserved for persons in wheelchairs and their companions. Tactile tours of sets; sensory experiences that combine the plastic arts and music, in partnership with the Musée Granet; and performances in audio-description, in collaboration with Accès Culture, are programmed regularly. In addition, amplifying headphones are available on site for evening performances, and all Festival performances are surtitled in French and English.
- Mobilised for over a decade around the environmental impact of its activities, the Festival has developed an innovative approach for the eco-design of sets for the operas it produces. Its set construction workshops use ecological raw materials as much as possible and systematically integrate recycling solutions from the very start of the design phase. In 2017, the set of Carmen recorded a 15-tonne reduction in CO2 emissions compared to traditional designs. And in 2019, all decommissioned sets were given a second life in public spaces (e.g. in schools, summer camps, exhibition venues).
- In 2018, the Festival’s technical team, in coordination with Pôle Eco Design, created a specialised methodological guide that identifies all best practices and processes in terms of eco-design. An updated version, expanded and translated into English, will be produced in 2021, so that it may be distributed more widely to professionals within the broader cultural sector in France and abroad.
> Download the Methodological Guide to the Eco-Design of Sets (pdf)
- As a part of its commitment to these various issues, the Festival is also an active member of a collective of several opera houses in France and Belgium. The collective is currently conducting a project to establish “standard structures” that would help equip the different venues with the same, standardised set-construction components, in order to limit the quantity of components required to be transported and thus reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced by such transportation.
- Communication, purchasing, food services, digital technology and mobility are also integral parts of the Festival practices that are being examined through the environmental lens. An internal technical committee is currently working on establishing an action plan around eco-friendly practices at the workplace to help reduce energy costs and the production of waste. Reflection workshops to draw up a charter for suppliers and determine travel solutions for various stakeholders will be launched in 2022.
- The Festival d’Aix is a founding member of the Collectif des Festivals écoresponsables et solidaires en Région Sud
COFEES — Ecologically Responsible and Solidarity Festivals Collective in the Region SUD Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
The Festival d’Aix is a founding member of the Cofees group
Since 2014, 34 of the most emblematic performance arts events in the Sud, Provence–Alpes–Côte d'Azur region have joined forces to create a new and unique initiative—the COFEES collective—in order to propose concrete and innovative actions in environmental and social matters, by adapting the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) ISO 26000 norm to their professional activity. This voluntary commitment is meant to raise awareness and to encourage cultural festivals to institute responsible practices, by exchanging knowledge, sharing means, and reducing their environmental impact, while still favouring dialog and collaboration between local stakeholders and local governments. Indeed, cultural events need to affirm their role as leaders in civic rights. These festivals are held in six different departments of the Région Sud, and are centred around a variety of artistic disciplines.
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