New on the TGE online giving platform: la Fondation pour la Comédie-Française

The TGE team interviewed Marie-Claire Janailhac, the President of la Fondation pour la Comédie-Française.

Publication date: 10 Mar 2021

La Fondation pour la Comédie-Française is a non-profit organization, under the aegis of Fondation de France, created in 2016. The purpose of this foundation is to support La Comédie-Française in France and abroad. They support new creations, educational and social programs, boarding tours all around the world, diffusion in France and abroad through movie theaters or the internet, transmission of know-how initiatives, projects of heritage conservation or enrichment of the exceptional art and manuscripts collection.

Founded in 1680 by King Louis XIV, just a few years after Molière passed away, La Comédie-Française is the oldest active theater company in the world. It is the only state theater in France to have its own permanent troupe of actors. The company’s primary venue – salle Richelieu – is located in the center of Paris but travels all around the world. For more than three centuries, La Comédie-Française and its exceptional troupe have performed all repertoires of the Theater. The troupe performs pieces from French authors and French translations from foreign authors, from classic theater to the most contemporary one. Many contemporary writers create works specifically for the company.

La Fondation pour la Comédie-Française gathers all individuals and companies, whether they are loyal big sponsors or occasional small donors.

TGE: Could you give us some examples of programs or actions you have recently led or implemented? Where are they taking in place (in France, abroad)?

Mrs. Janailhac: Among the very recent examples of sponsorship from the foundation, we can underline:

The creation of la Vie de Galilée (Galilei’s life) from Bertolt Brecht, directed by Eric Ruf, with Renaissance style homemade sets and costumes designed by Christian Lacroix, performed in Paris from September 2019 to end of January 2020.

The creation of La Nuit des rois (Twelfth Night) from William Shakespeare, directed by Thomas Ostermeier performed in 2018 and 2019 in Paris.

The tour of Les Damnés (The Damned) inspired from the Visconti’s movie, directed by Ivo Van Hove. Created at Festival d’Avignon in 2016, it was then performed in Paris, in New-York in 2018, in London and in Antwerp in 2019.

The tour of Electre/Oreste adapted from Euripide, directed by Ivo Van Hove, created in Paris and then performed at the festival d’Epidaure in Greece in July 2019.

The sponsorship of “l’Académie”, a one-year internship program for 9 young people who want to become actor (6 students), director (1 student), sets & costumes designer (1 student), or writer/dramaturge (1 student). Selected among numerous candidatures coming from every part of France, these 9 students are involved in all creations/covers of shows.

In 2020, the sponsorship of a specific program dedicated to university students, who experienced a remote cursus for many months due to Covid crisis.

In 2020, the sponsorship for editing webcast programs specifically created for all parts of the audience, during lockdown periods as the theaters were closed.

In 2019 and 2020, the acquisition of pieces of art which complete the exceptional collection

From 2017 to 2019, the sponsorship of the renovation of Salle Mounet Sully, a lounge created in 1830 in an aisle of a State mansion closed to the main building of La Comédie-Française in Paris and attributed to La Comédie-Française in 1914.

TGE: Is cross-border giving an important part of your fundraising strategy? If yes, which countries do you target?

Mrs. Janailhac: Cross-border giving is important for us because we know that 20% of our audience comes from abroad (webcast data). We target French speaking countries of course: Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg or Canada, but also USA, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy.

TGE: Why did you decide to join the TGE Network?

Mrs. Janailhac: TGE network is the easiest way for us to answer the needs from our donors and sponsors who live in other European countries.

TGE: What do you think about the concept of a TGE Online Giving Platform? How does it fit with your fundraising efforts?

Mrs. Janailhac: We welcome the TGE Online Giving Platform! Fast, reliable and pleasant!

In France, we used an Online giving platform since the creation of the Foundation and the Covid crisis turned it into the most successful tool: used by 95% of our donors!

It is a great advantage to our donors abroad to now be able to use the TGE Online giving Platform.

TGE: How is your organization dealing with the current pandemic situation? Do you have some specific initiatives happening for the moment?

Mrs. Janailhac: The pandemic situation has been a disaster for theaters in France! They closed in March 2020, could re-open in September for only a month and are still closed to-day!

Thanks to the Troupe, permanent and exclusive to La Comédie-Française, 10 days after the lock-down in March 2020,  a free webTV wa created, “Comédie d’Automne”. According to the different lock-down periods, different programs were set up for all parts of the audience: unique and original proposals for children, for students, for the whole audience. Everything about the theater: the actors, texts explanation, rehearsals, readings, …etc. For example actors read the book A la recherche du temps perdu de Marcel Proust from the beginning of the Web TV. The first actor started at page one, they change everyday, actors are taking the reading, one after the other, like a relay race. They have already reached volume 3!

This webTV has a tremendous success. More than 15,000 spectators per day, already more than 1.7 Million spectators (almost 1,900 times the size of the auditorium in Paris!)

TGE: Do you think having an online giving TGE page will help you overcome some of your current challenges?

Mrs. Janailhac: Yes, certainly. We know that many people who receive our Newsletters give donations for specific projects immediately whenever they see them in the Newsletters because they only have to clic for that. Should they need to do a wire transfer, etc. … they would be reluctant. But with a simple clic, it’s done!

TGE: What are the next steps for la Fondation pour la Comédie-Française? Your projects for the future?

Mrs. Janailhac: We need to find support for different projects. First of all, we need to support our webTV during the whole time the Theater is closed. And according to the search for excellence from actors, artistic teams and technicians, we need to find more money to be able to finance the WebTV in April, May and perhaps June 2021.

Then, considering the great audience abroad, we will help La Comédie-Française to produce and webcast more original programs on a regular basis when the crisis has stopped. They will also address specific public in hospitals, houses for the elderlees, or prisons. We already made tests that proved to be very popular.

We need to find money every year to support a new group of students at l’Académie.

We need support for educational programs, for example giving young people and children access to the Theater with explanations, visits, and reduced tickets for the shows. Idem for social programs, giving access to the Theater to people with low revenues and poor educational means.

And we will need support for each tour of la Comédie-Française abroad when the pandemic stops. Many countries are requiring tours but no Theater alone can afford the cost of such a tour today. So we need to find sponsors for touring and keep French culture with excellence Theater alive abroad.

To learn more about la Fondation pour la Comédie-Française…


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