Saturday, November 17, 2007

Special Regimes in the World of Culture

This post is especially for Gregory Brown, who mentioned that he had a professional interest in special retirement regimes in the theatrical world. The République des Lettres has some interesting information on offer today. The special regime at the Paris Opera dates back to 1698. Dancers get to retire at 40, singers at 50, stagehands at 55, and musicians at 60. Perhaps John Rawls has a theory of justice to explain this interesting gradation.


gregory brown said...

Thanks Art.

gregory brown said...

Rawls certainly not, and I'm not sure history explains it either.

If'n anyone else is interested, the statement in the article about the opera's "special regime" dating back to 1698 is slightly misleading in that there was of course no public pension system from which the Opera's could be distinguished as "special." And really its not accurate to speak of a "retirement" age in that period at all.

The system to which the article refers was really the "fonds commun" that belonged to the Academie Royale de Musique and, under its founding Lettres Patentes, belonged in different proportions to the singers, musicians, etc. (Composers were paid a lump sum for their work and authors of livrets were paid either a lump sum or a portion of the gate receipt.)

At both the Academie Royale de musique and the Comedie Francaise, retiring actors in effect sold their shares back into the pot, in exchange for an annual pay-out; newly entering members replacing them had to buy their share, usually by borrowing out of the pot to be paid back by regular deductions from their share of revenues until the share was paid off. Thus, not quite "cotisations" or retirement pensions.

In any event, the ARM's rules changed repeatedly, especially when it passed from the crown to the city of Paris and back during the 18th century and again during the Revolution. I am not sure when retirement ages were introduced but I suspect it would have been when the more general system of retirement pensions was introduced during the 3rd Republic or revised after the second world war.