A popular and contemporary artistic adventure. Founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar, the Avignon Festival is today 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 performance venues, majestic or surprising, welcoming tens of thousands of theater-lovers (over 130,000 admissions) of all ages. Its legendary space is the "Cour d'honneur" (main courtyard) of the Palais des papes, the heart of outdoor performances, with nearly 2,000 spectators. The spectators, often on vacation and far from home, spend several days in Avignon and see some of the 40 shows, mostly plays and dance recitals and occasionally concerts or plastic arts events. The Festival successfully brings together a general public and international creation for an original alliance. 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.
There are more than 40 different shows performed during the Festival, but also readings, exhibitions, films and debates, which are all entries into the world of the invited artists. Every evening during the Festival, there is at least one show première, making Avignon a place of true creation and adventure for the artists and spectators alike.
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. All public guardianships have always respected this independence of action, regardless of political situations.
- offers, every year, about 50 shows, from France and all over the world, for nearly 250 performances. Many of these shows are created for the Festival, or are being shown for the first time in France.
- organises, around those shows, encounters with the artists of the Festival, readings of original texts, film screenings and exhibitions, that allow the audience to better understand the work of those artists by encountering it from different angles.
- transforms more than 20 places, most of them historical and outdoor, into scenic places, very diverse in terms of both architecture and number of seats, from 50 to 2,000 people.
- issues between 110,000 and 120,000 tickets for paid shows and welcomes between 20,000 and 30,000 spectators to its free events. Roughly 33% of its audience comes from Avignon and its area, Ile-de-France 26%, other French regions (27%) and abroad (14%). In recent years, the Festival has seen an average attendance of 90% to 96%.
- welcomes more than 500 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 medias send correspondents to the Festival, which is also covered by about 50 photographers.
- brings together nearly 3,500 performing arts professionals from all over the world to take part in panels and debates about the theatre arts and cultural policies. A true professional forum, the Festival organises debates every day to exchange ideas and points of view on this unique moment in European cultural life. Published in 20,000 copies, a guide for performing arts professionals includes more details on these events.
- publishes 50,000 pre-programmes and 80,000 programmes each year. The official mobile application was launched in 2019. The website, in French and English, is constantly visited (765,169 visits in 2014). So does the Festival's Facebook page, created in June 2010, with over 80,000 Likes, or over 13,000 individual visitors. The Festival's Twitter account has 35, 000 followers and the Instagram account more than 16100 followers.
- has a budget of 13 million euros for 2019 (excluding benefits in kind from the City and the Agglomeration), whose expenses aredistributed as follows: 36% for programming, producing and co-producing, and cultural activities; 35% for the technical facilities and operating of the Festival's various performance venues; 29% for upkeep (including that of the FabricA), administration, and communication. 57% of its resources come from public subsidies (31% from the French government, 7% from the City of Avignon, not including benefits in kind, 7% from the Communauté d'Agglomération du Grand Avignon, 6% from the Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 5% from the Département de Vaucluse), and for 43% from its own revenue (ticket sales, sponsors, non-commercial partnerships, specific partnerships, show sales, etc.).
- has established long-term relationships with of sponsors, first and foremost the Fondation Crédit Coopératif. The Festival has set up a circle of partner companies of the Festival bringing together about fifteen small and medium-sized businesses as well as a circle of individual sponsors.
- generates an economic benefits for the city worth between 23 and 25 million euros (not including revenue generated by other events such as the Off, professional panels, etc.).
Concurrently with the Festival d'Avignon, the Off welcomes more than 1,000 companies that perform on their own initiative in a hundred different venues, finding the necessary funding.