What is a CDN?
70 years’ of decentralisation for theatre
It was in the wake of the Second World War that the idea of theatre as a public service, available to each and every household (rather like water, gas and electricity), emerged. The journey towards decentralisation began in 1947 when the Eastern Centre of Dramatic Art in Colmar and the Comédie de Saint-Etienne opened their doors, inspired by the idea that theatre could also be pioneered, developed and promoted on a regional basis. Since that time, 38 National Centres of Dramatic Art (CDN) have taken on the role of producing original works and making them accessible to the public at large within their locality. Today, these CDN epitomize creativity within the decentralisation process, bringing culture to life and extending its reach beyond the capital, Paris. In a cultural landscape with a wealth of artistic talent, the CDN (unlike other administrative bodies involved in decentralisation) deliberately choose their directors from amongst established theatre professionals. Part of the role of the director involves producing his/her own shows but also making the facilities available to other artistic directors and performers.
Drawing on their rich past and strong heritage, whilst also being very aware of their role within the present-day cultural panorama, the CDN hope to harness this important landmark anniversary of theatre decentralisation with a view to sharing ideas and opening up debate.