Founder of La Fabrique culturelle (The Cultural Factory) in Abidjan, a transdisciplinary venue dedicated to the performing arts, Chantal Djédjé is also at the helm of the Rencontres interculturelles du cirque d’Abidjan (Abidjan Intercultural Circus Festival, RICA) which for its third edition in 2020 brought together more than 15,000 people and inaugurated a section dedicated to professionals. Long absent from Côte d’Ivoire, the circus is growing there, and companies are taking on a local flavour.
Arriving in France at the age of 10, Chantal Djédjé, who returned to Côte d’Ivoire in 2014, describes herself as a « repat », a former expatriate back home.
Born in 1968, she studied information and communication at the University of Aix-en-Provence before working in advertising, film production and theatre programming and mediation with young people from neighbourhoods with notorious reputations.
In 2014 she created La Fabrique Culturelle in Abidjan, a transdisciplinary venue that hosts artists in residence, rehearsals and shows. With a capacity of 56 seats (200 people standing), La Fabrique Culturelle offers debut appearances and since 2018, the RICA festival, the first circus festival in Côte d’Ivoire.
Openly inspired by the Élancées, a festival of movement arts (circus, dance etc.) launched by six municipalities in West Provence, the RICA festival was born in 2016 out of demand and an absence of a similar venture. « Since its creation, La Fabrique Culturelle has been involved in organisations with French programmes, » explains Chantal Djédjé. « Four years ago, an education inspector asked us to develop a circus project...in a country where there were hardly any in existence! » Since 2018, the festival has aroused genuine enthusiasm, welcoming 9,000, then 12,000 and 15,000 spectators over the course of its three editions.
The 2020 edition offered a « circus focus », commemorating the 400th anniversary of slavery and celebrating gender equality on 8 March. African companies such as Compagnie Zolobe (Madagascar), Térya Circus (Guinea-Conakry) and the equestrian Madi Derme (Burkina Faso) have distinguished themselves alongside European and North American players: Académie Fratellini (France), Métis’Gwa (France, Guadeloupe), Cirque Kalabanté (Canada) etc.
Taking advantage of her French experience in cultural management, through La Fabrique Culturelle, Chantal Djédjé is now involved in the training of entertainment-related professions (technicians, mediation, front-of-house etc.). She closely follows the development of the local circus scene (Cirque national de Côte d’Ivoire, Cirque décalé etc.) while seeking to ensure that the RICA Festival becomes « the centre of the leading network of African circuses ».
In partnership with Circostrada (European Network Circus and Street Arts), Chantal Djédjé and the RICA 2020 festival inaugurated the first Kahwa interprofessional meetings, the theme of which was the integration of traditional African arts into contemporary circus creation.
Chantal Djédjé was born in Côte d’Ivoire.
At the age of 10 her family moves to France.
Chantal Djédjé creates la Fabrique Culturelle in Abidjan, a transdisciplinary venue dedicated to the arts.
She launches the annual RICA festival (Rencontres interculturelles du cirque d’Abidjan) which aims to bring together the leading network of African circuses.
The Rencontres interculturelles du cirque d’Abidjan (Abidjan Intercultural Circus Festival, RICA) are supported by the Institut français within the framework of the Support to African and Caribbean Civil Society Operators 2020 programme.