The world needs our art, say locked-down French performers

A person performs with fire sticks as demonstrators, including French artists and entertainment workers, protest against the "Global Security Bill" and the government's measures to combat a resurgence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Nantes, France, December 15, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

PARIS (Reuters) - Several thousand French artists shut out of their performance spaces because of COVID-19 protested on Tuesday to demand the government let them back on stage.

Protesters paraded near the shuttered Bastille Opera house in central Paris with dancing giant puppets, drums and trumpets to spread the word that culture is essential, including during a pandemic.

French President Emmanuel Macron had said theatres could reopen from Dec. 15, but this was scrapped because COVID-19 transmission rates were not falling fast enough. The new target date for reopening is in January.

Culture is “part of humanity,” said one protester, who gave his name as Maurizio, and had a 12-foot (3.6 metre) tall puppet mounted on his shoulders. “It’s a part of what defines someone.”

Reporting by Noemie Olive and Lucien Libert; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Janet Lawrence