Interview with Jean-Marc Grangier, Comédie de Clermont-Ferrand


Jean-Marc Grangier is the Director of the Comédie de Clermont-Ferrand since 2002.


First of all, I would like to point out that this building, which is dedicated to the national stage, has been awaited for 20 years. The scène nationale designation is normally attributed to an existing place and to artistic and cultural projects that are developed there. In Clermont-Ferrand, things have unfolded in a different order since, to date, the scène nationale is no longer associated with a specific place. After years of doing battle, in which Olivier Bianchi, as an elected official for cultural matters, played an essential role, we have finally reached the construction stage for this building located in the city centre, on the site of the former bus terminal that is served by a tramway stop just before its entry door, like a symbol of its accessibility.


Four very high-level architects are competing to build this essential place for the City and its inhabitants. It will also be one of the most beautiful theatrical venues in this great new Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, dedicated to multidisciplinary programming. At the beginning of October, a jury will choose the winner of the competition and, at the beginning of 2016, we will all work with the architect selected to put everything in place in order to create a magnificent place to be used by artists and publics, which is scheduled to be open for the 2019-2020 season.


It is very important that this place be inhabited by artists, for example for creative residences. There will be two performance rooms and a rehearsal room, so they will always be working in the building. Similarly, it is essential that the largest and most diverse audiences possible make use of these spaces, not so that they can feel at home, which would not be of great interest, but so they can feel better than when at home, in an environment that is stimulating and enriching.


This place will be a crossroads for artists and their works, but also a place where one will have the possibility of encountering and exchanging with citizens, with civil society and our partners, who are all part of current events in our territory and who will contribute to making this place lively and dynamic.


The Comédie de Clermont-Ferrand offers programming that is varied, eclectic and surprising. How do you choose the shows? How do you establish your program schedule?


The work related to scheduling is complex. Each season is a challenge, to try to hold this very specific construction together, which must respond to missions, obligations, ambitions, strategies, desires and be reconciled in terms of meaning and coherence of the shows and artists, who may sometimes be at odds with each other.


I seek to present the most exciting shows among today’s creations, opening several paths to spectators who want to follow them, moving from surprise to surprise, discovery to rediscovery, moving through the seasons and events of their own existence. I want the works seen to relate to this daily life, that they be inspiring, troubling, and that they offer material that is moving, thought-provoking and evolutionary.


Notions of sharing and culture are also at the heart of my project. One never attends a show alone, there are seat neighbours, anonymous or known, there may be friends, family members, colleagues with whom one can discuss the experience in the auditorium, perceptions that each will have had and this is intriguing.


What common projects do you have with other actors on the cultural scene in Clermont?


I always welcome the possibility of collaboration with other cultural actors of the city with curiosity and enthusiasm. As such, we have conducted and are conducting projects in common with the Coopérative de Mai, the Centre Lyrique, the Orchestre d’Auvergne, the Conservatoire, the FRAC, the Bargoin and Quilliot museums, the Les Ambiances cinema, the Traces de vies festival, the Semaine de la Poésie, the Les Volcans bookstore, the university culture department, etc.


This is always very enriching, even if reproducing our prices and manner of functioning is not always easy. But I think that the public is not necessarily aware of these connections. They like the complementarity and appreciate moving from one well identified project to another while increasing enjoyment.


What is your vision of the future for the cultural scene in France? What place does it hold for sponsorship?


We are passing through a difficult period for culture in France. Alas, one must observe that many politicians are moving further and further away from these missions and these forms of expression, and this is deplorable!


In my editorial for the 2015-2016 season, I wrote that in Clermont-Ferrand we have an exceptional city for culture. We must all enjoy this opportunity. But as incredible as this may seem, few elected officials really understand that culture must be at the heart of everything and promoted because it is essential for understanding human beings and the world. The values of creation, the powers of imagination, vision, the capacity to understand transpositions of the real and to interconnect things between each another, all of this is essential in forming individuals.


The commitment of companies from the private sector is very important for artists and for our institution. Sponsorship in the current context in which it is necessary to awaken the mind and conscience of politicians and affirm among all citizens, as well as among other nations, that we defend these values and forms of expression, contributes to doing all that is possible to support free expression, invention, and artistic innovation.


For the Comédie, sponsorship represents financial support that counts. It is also assistance that is win-win, like a flag from the company planted in our recognised project to regroup, rally and encourage others to defend the place and role of art and culture in the existence of everyone, employees of the sponsoring company and inhabitants of the city


A new cultural building is under construction near the Maison de la Culture in Clermont, which will be emblematic for the Comédie de Clermont. Can you tell us where this construction currently stands, and talk about your first projects for this place?