“She did the dirty work, and now she’s leaving”, blows an actor from the Toulouse cultural community. Virginie Choquart, appointed in October 2019 by the city of Toulouse at the head of the music department, announced last Tuesday his departure to his teams, citing “personal reasons”. To the great surprise of the employees now managing the Métronum and the organization and operation of the Rio Loco festival attached to the new entity.
The former director of the Gaîté lyrique in Paris had been hired to carry out the transformation of the 600-seat concert hall built by Pierre Cohen in 2014 in Borderouge. It was then a question of moving from the status of municipal management to that of local public company (SPL), as we explained a year ago. This change was coupled with the ambition to “reinvent the Métronum”. It also opened up the possibility of associating other communities with the board of directors (such as the Occitanie region and the Haute-Garonne department, which are not yet there) but also that of obtaining the precious national label Smac ( Current music scene), allowing the passage to grab state funding. Also giving the opportunity to develop own resources and make profit.
The departure of the director in charge of this roadmap raises questions, only a few months later the formalization of the new status of the Métronum and less than a month before the popular music festival on the banks of the Garonne Rio Loco. Contacted, Francis Grass, the assistant in charge of the coordination of cultural policies and president of the board of directors of the SPL du Métronum, did not answer us. “Virginie Choquart will leave in October for family reasons and we have no comment on this personal decision. The SPL Le Métronum will launch recruitment imminently in order to ensure the transition, ”replied the press service of the town hall. As for the person concerned, she did not respond to our requests.
“We are a real ghost ship. We navigate by sight. It’s very difficult to live and it cracks in the teams “
Whatever the real reasons for this departure, this announcement disconcerts the employees of the Métronum. “The announcement caused contentment in the teams. But it also destabilizes everyone (namely about thirty people, including a dozen former community agents made available to the SPL via new contracts Ed) because it comes just before Rio Loco and arouses a lot of follow-up questioning. In my opinion, Virginie Choquart did not know how to manage”, testifies Jules*, an employee of the Metronum.
This departure comes when several indicators were red, starting with the well-being of employees. “Nothing was invented, everything was broken. She (Virginie Choquart Editor’s note) divided the communication, production and technical teams. There is very little communication about the project. We’re a real ghost ship. We navigate by sight. It’s very difficult to live and it cracks in the teams. Many are looking to leave,” adds Jules. Same story in the middle of current music. “Management has become tougher for the associations that rent rehearsal studios and the concert hall, not to mention the pricing which has increased. Since the director arrived, it’s been a bit of a confrontation between two worlds, ”notes Pascal*, a former well-integrated member of the current music scene.
The Smac label at a standstill
In addition, none of the projects launched for the Metronum more than two years ago has so far come to fruition. The room is still not labeled current music scene (Smac), despite the filing of a second file in April 2021 at the Drac.
Nothing new either on the side of the entrepreneurship project imagined in the call for projects “Reinvention. Entrepreneurship at the Metronum » launched on April 2, 2021 by the town hall. The City then indicated that it was looking for an “innovative entrepreneurship project” to “work in the cross-fields of art, creation, innovation and/or the solidarity economy”, which would take place in parallel with the concert hall activity. In the outlook, there was the idea of hosting a restaurant and a café. It is recognized for this purpose that the cultural associations gathered in the collective Ma Sphère and until then graciously accommodated in a wing of the Métronum, had been forced to leave. Two years later, their offices linger…empty.
In the end, the new Metronum project is more than ever questioned in the world of contemporary music. “Since 2016, there has been a berezina on the cultural vision of this project. The directors left one after the other, including the latest, Arnaud Hammelin after a year and now Virginie Choquart after two years, who nevertheless seemed to be very well supported by politicians. It will be difficult to find someone to lead this vague project”, analyzes Pascal*. And to finally succeed in winning the Smac label?
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