Just for Laughs protects itself from its creditors | Several reactions from the political and cultural world

The announcement that the Just for Laughs Group has been placed under creditor protection – as well as the cancellation of the next festival – has provoked varying reactions in the world of politics and entertainment.

Read “Just for Laughs Group: “I’m stunned”, says Luce Rozon”

Several people from the festival community interviewed by The Press admitted that they were not surprised by the news announced this morning.

Martin Roy, from REMI (Grouping of major international events) is one of them. “I have a thought for the laid-off employees and the artists. The entire festival industry is seeing this announcement in solidarity. Just for Laughs has been a flagship of Quebec culture for 40 years. We hope to preserve its spirit and content as much as possible. »

That being said, I’m not very surprised by this news. We have been telling different levels of government for months that things are not going well for festivals and events. And the epicenter remains the festivals which offer part or all of their programming for free, such as Just for Laughs, Jazz or the Francos. The inflationary wave is present, but revenues, subsidies and sponsorships are not keeping up. »

Same observation from the Group of Independent Regional Artistic Festivals (REFRAIN): we receive the news not with surprise, but with several questions. “We were already hearing rumors from the corridor, there were a lot of signals,” comments Patrick Kearney, president of the association. On the other hand, we must remember that it is the entire Just for Laughs Group that is going bankrupt. We talk a lot about the festival, but I’m not convinced that the 50 million (debts) have much to do with the festival. »

So, for Patrick Kearney, who defends the interests of smaller festivals, it is necessary to ask which of the JPR Group’s many other activities have deepened the company’s debts. “If we ask for help for big festivals (in response to the bankruptcy), it must be justified,” he argues.

For the future, Patrick Kearney does not have too many concerns for the humor sector, even if he is saddened for the artists and artisans who are suffering from this situation. “Nature abhors a vacuum,” he said. There will be a rebalancing. Before, comedians depended a lot on Just for Laughs. Now they exist without it. There were already no more galas, the event is no longer as essential. The ecosystem has changed. »

On the side of France Film, owner of the Théâtre St-Denis and Espace St-Denis cinemas, the news was received with dismay. “It’s the icing on the sundae!” », says Claude Chabot, vice-president of affairs and public relations at France Film. “The industry is already fragile. Just the rental costs of technical equipment have doubled in five years. We didn’t need that. »

Mr. Chabot recalls that JPR was a major player in the industry and his departure would leave a big void: “But I am an eternal optimist. I’m sure the little green guy will find new parents. » He also says he is confident that other producers can save the production of the musical Waitresswhich is part of its programming.

Reactions in Ottawa, Quebec and Montreal

In the middle of the afternoon, the provincial Minister of Culture and Communications, Mathieu Lacombe, published this message on the X network: “The Just for Laughs festival is a rich heritage, an emblem of our cultural community which made Quebec shine internationally. My thoughts are first and foremost with the laid off employees and artists affected by this news from the JPR Group. »

He added in a second status: “I am aware of the difficult situation in which our Quebec festivals are currently. My colleague Caroline Proulx (Minister of Tourism) and I are monitoring the situation closely.)

Still on X, the mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, also reacted to the news. “It is with regret that I learned of the decision of the Just for Laughs Group. I would like to salute the work and dedication of all the employees, who contribute enormously to the influence of humor and of Montreal. »

“We will miss the Just for Laughs Festival this summer. It is a flagship event on the Montreal cultural scene and in the summer programming of the Quartier des spectacles. Hopefully, the group’s restructuring activities will allow it to make a comeback. »

“Humor is an integral part of our culture and we will continue to support it. I asked the City of Montreal teams to contact the organization to assess the planned follow-up. »

On the Ottawa side, the office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage Pascale Saint-Onge responded with this message sent to The Press : “We recognize the difficulty of the situation for the festival. As a government, we are determined to support Just for Laughs by contributing through the Canada Arts Presentation Fund, which aims to support organizations organizing festivals, among others. We will remain vigilant and work closely with them so that they can continue to benefit from the various programs we offer. »

With the collaboration of Luc Boulanger, Jean Siag, Marissa Groguhé, Mylène Crète and Charles Lecavalier, The Press

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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