Arts & Entertainment

Young French citizens occupy theaters to express discontent

Paris, Mar 23 (efe-epa).- Angry French citizens have occupied nearly 80 theaters across the country, including Paris’ La Colline, where dozens staged a sit-in to protest the closure of cultural venues due to the coronavirus and to their particular situation in society.

Elena is one of around 30 people who occupied La Colline a couple of weeks ago. “We come from different schools, we are students or newcomers in the job market and we feel completely invisible,” she tells Efe in front of the theater.

The young people say they are not linked to any union and they do not have an official spokesperson. A person is chosen every day to address the media, which is not being given access to the theater by the occupiers, ostensibly for privacy reasons.

The 24-year-old, who studies at Paris’ National Superior Conservatory of Dramatic Art, feels that her future faces a double threat posed by job insecurity in the industry, especially for labor market rookies, and by Covid-19.

“We will be here until we have a favorable response to our demands,” the young woman, who preferred not to reveal her last name, said.

The young activists’ demands include reopening the theaters, following the hygiene and social distancing guidelines, and the reversal of the government’s reform of the conditions to access unemployment insurance that they consider disadvantageous for the most workers in the most precarious job circumstances.

“We want to participate, to be heard, and to be involved in making the decisions that concern young people. There is a big gap between what the State does and our situation,” she added.

The movement has gained momentum in France since it first began at Paris’ Odeon nearly three weeks ago, and in the meantime it expanded to cities such as Lyon, Marseille, Nantes and Bordeaux, where the opera house has been occupied.

Authorities have not yet moved in to evacuate any of the activists and no major incidents have occurred.

The government unsuccessfully tried to appease anger in the sector by launching a new economic aid package announced by the prime minister.

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