The Festival

The Festival de l’Imaginaire, established in 1997, is held each year in spring and features groups of traditional performing artists. Most of the artists are performing in France for the first time, or there may be "comebacks" after several years of absence, either to cater to the desires of a new generation of spectators or to introduce new talents to the international scene. During the festival, it is not uncommon to watch great masters, guardians of tradition, performing alongside young artists eager to enrich and revive age-old art forms.

Over a period of three months, between March and June, the festival is held at several wellknown Parisian venues (The Alliance française Theatre, the Amphitheatre of the Opéra Bastille, the Auditorium of the Louvre Museum, the Arab World Institute, the Guimet Museum, the Zingaro Equestrian Theatre, etc.) and marshals the energies and enthusiasm of other regional and European institutions that want to introduce as yet unknown cultural forms to European audiences.

The festival strives to constantly kindle spectators’ curiosity with a three-pronged approach : Exploration, Discovery and Revelation. Each performance is put through a painstaking field study before selection. The decision to schedule a given art form on the Parisian cultural scene is not taken lightly : the choice is based on several parameters, in particular, the esthetic yardstick of the culture in which this art form originated, and the risks inherent to transplanting it into a "foreign" environment. A large network of consultants, cultural advisors and associates assure this phase of extensive research and the preliminary groundwork : anthropologists, theatre people, local consultants, and others work
to ensure that the programming remains true to its meticulous standards and philosophy.

In 2006, Chérif Khaznadar entrusted Arwad Esber with the artistic direction of the Festival de l’Imaginaire and appointed her Director of the World Cultures Institute in 2007. With one foot in Western culture and the other in oriental culture, she is particularly sensitive to questions of respect for the right to difference and for cultural diversity and has been developing the festival further in three main directions :

• doing research on unknown expressions of intangible cultural heritage and promoting the transmission of these cultural expressions to new generations ;

• focusing special attention on countries which have, throughout the years, witnessed the multiplication of its peoples and cultures and presenting the results of such crossbreeding ;

• seeking artists among the new generations who have been able to recreate their traditions according to their own cultural assets and to produce new creations ;

• further developing of educational and outreach activities. The festival is also a forum for reflection and for debate. Symposiums, round tables, conferences, lecture-demonstrations and other activities highlighting issues of cultural interest or of social concerns, offer new landmarks, thus broadening our vision of the world.

Contact :
Maison des Cultures du Monde
101 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris, France
Tel : +33 (0)1 45 44 72 30
info maisondesculturesdumonde.org