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Hyères Festival funding and partnerships: behind the scenes of the 2023 edition

By Diane Vanderschelden


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Business |In Depth

36e edition of the International festival of fashion, Photography and accessories Hyères. Credits: FashionUnited.

Ahead of the 38th edition of the Hyeres Festival, which kicks off this Thursday, October 12, and runs until Sunday, October 15, FashionUnited dives into the financing of the coveted event for fashion, photography and accessories enthusiasts.

Once again, this year, under the direction of Jean-Pierre Blanc and the presidency of Pascale Mussard, the festival will shine a spotlight on new talents and explore the latest creative trends in fashion and photography. Established in 1985, Hyères Festival is renowned as the world's oldest competition for young fashion talents. Every year, the Villa Noailles, with its iconic architectural design that serves as the festival's emblem, plays host to this event in the Southeast of France.

The 2023 edition promises an exciting line-up of competitions, exhibitions, and round-table discussions, featuring ten designers, ten photographers, and ten accessories’ creators, all meticulously selected by professional juries. It's a key event in the calendar of fashion, photography, and accessories enthusiasts, offering an immersive experience into the world of emerging creativity.

A creative competition with strong financial backing

The history of the Hyères Festival is intricately tied to the Villa Noailles Association (FIAMH). Established in the 1980s, the association’s primary objective was to rejuvenate the Villa Noailles, an iconic site in Hyères. In 1985, the association launched the ‘Festival des Jeunes Stylistes’ (meaning festival of young stylists), which swiftly emerged as the driving force behind this daring venture, combining architecture, photography, design, and the world of fashion.

Despite its avant-garde nature, the project garnered approval and solid support from the City Council and all involved partners. Financially, the association has received consistent backing from the town of Hyères since its inception in 1986. In 2003, the Toulon Provence Méditerranée metropolitan area also joined the ranks of financial contributors. The Hyères Festival further enjoys support from the Direction régionale des Affaires culturelles (Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication), the Conseil régional Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, and the Conseil départemental du Var.

Despite its 38 years of existence, the Festival continues to strive to provide an exceptional platform for emerging creativity in the realms of fashion, photography, and fashion accessories. Jean Pierre Blanc, its Managing Director, emphasized in an interview with FashionUnited in January 2023 that organizing such an event remains a challenge, notably due to the allocation of institutional budgets, 70 percent of which are directed towards the Ile de France region. However, a glimmer of hope emerged thanks to the Ministry of Culture. In 2022, the ministry launched a national policy in support of festivals, introducing the 'Festival Fund' scheme. This initiative aims to meet the developmental and structural needs of cultural festivals, supporting their transitions, and encouraging artistic innovations and risk-taking.

With over 900 festivals across its territory, the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (DRAC) for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) region received a substantial allocation of 1.039 billion euros to support these events, coupled with the funding from the National Centre for Music (CNM) and other sources. In 2023, this allocation was put to use in reviewing nearly 200 grant applications, representing a 33 percent increase compared to the previous year. These requests amounted to a total of 4.5 million euros, underscoring the significance of cultural festivals in the region and the necessity of providing financial support to sustain and nurture them.

In the report detailing grants awarded by the Toulon Provence Méditerranée Metropolitan Area, the Villa Noailles Association (FIAMH) secured a grant of 1.2 million euros following a decision approved on February 7, 2023. The City of Hyères also demonstrated its commitment to the Association by granting 150,000 euros in 2022. In the Var department, the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (DRAC) played a crucial role by allocating a budget of 260,000 euros to support 19 festivals, including the Hyères Festival. These substantial contributions emphasize the recognition of the event's cultural and creative impact in the region.

Financial health, debts, and agreements

The association does not disclose its revenue figures, making it challenging to obtain a comprehensive picture of its financial health. However, a report back in 2015 prepared by the accounting firm APEX Wagner & Associates in 2015 revealed a total balance sheet for the festival of 1.1 million euros, with a revenue of 70,245 euros and a net loss of 28,456 euros.

The report also indicated at the time a debt to a credit institution of 1,737 euros, as well as a debt to suppliers for purchasing the goods and services necessary for the festival, amounting to approximately 300,000 euros. Furthermore, it was noted that an annual agreement for the provision of communal premises and equipment was signed between the association and the Municipality of Hyères in March 2013. This agreement stipulates that the municipality commits to providing the necessary premises for the event and that municipal services will support the smooth execution of the event. Although this data pertains to a previous period, it shares similarities in terms of grant amounts and agreements with private and public partners. Therefore, is the festival still running at a deficit in 2023?

Private partnerships: occasional and year-round support

Prominent fashion industry leaders play a vital role in financing the Hyères Festival, primarily through the awards they grant to creators. They not only provide financial support but also offer increased visibility, logistical assistance, and sponsorship to these creators.

Among these partners, Chanel, LVMH, Première Vision, Hermès, Mercedes-Benz, Défi, Kering, Konbini, and Madame Le Figaro stand out for their dedication to the festival. These partners fund the competitions that span across three main categories: fashion, photography, and accessories.

Here's an overview of their sponsorship for the Fashion Prize:

  • GRAND JURY PRIZE PREMIÈRE VISION: This award includes a creation grant of 20,000 euros presented by Première Vision, visibility at the Paris salon in February, and a collaborative project with the Métiers d'art worth 20,000 euros. Additionally, it encompasses support for the creation of capsule collections, media visibility, and material grants, such as linen and hemp.
  • le19M MÉTIERS D’ART PRIZE: This prize rewards the best collaboration between the ten finalists of the Fashion Prize and ten houses belonging to Chanel's Métiers d'art. The winner receives a 20,000 euros grant to implement a new creative project.
  • MERCEDES-BENZ ECO-RESPONSIBLE COLLECTION PRIZE: The finalist who has best integrated eco-responsible practices into their collection will be rewarded with a 20,000 euros grant from Mercedes-Benz.
  • L'ATELIER DES MATIÈRES PRIZE: This award will go to one of the ten Fashion Prize finalists for creating an outfit using a selection of dormant materials and recycled raw materials worth 10,000 euros, provided by L'Atelier des Matières and made available to the winner.
  • Festival de Hyères