Corrida: France seeks to save the novilladas, victims of the crisis

As Nîmes celebrates its 60th edition of the Cape d’Or, the novilladas are particularly affected by the violent crisis suffered by bullfighting.

After a record 2007 year with 3,651 bullfighting shows in France and Spain, the sharp decline over a decade was already worrying bullfighting aficionados and professionals on the eve of the Covid crisis. Indeed, the number of bullfights was reduced to 1,521 in 2018 (-58%) with lower category arenas which stopped their demonstrations for lack of municipal subsidies (impact of the subprime crisis) and loss of audience. If the large arenas were little impacted and generally maintained the architecture of their temporada, the novilleros market was particularly affected since only 264 races were organized in 2018, a decrease of 65%.

Reduce production costs

All the ingredients were therefore gathered after eighteen months of stoppage linked to the health crisis to deal a fatal blow to the novilladas, essential spectacles to ensure the future of the escalafon. Thus, the elected officials of the UVTF (union of French bullfighting towns) met to discuss the subject and ensure an almost normal temporada in 2021 by reducing the cost of production.

“We wanted regulation to define a market price that was worthy for professionals and viable for the organizers. To protect the interests of everyone without abusing the situation without it being the jungle”, explains André Viard, the representative of the UVTF . Thus, even if the “convenio” (union minimum) only applies in Spain, an agreement was reached with the toreros and subordinate unions “to reduce the fees by 25% while keeping this reference” “which is generally the rule in 3rd category arenas. In addition, “the figuras have accepted the principle of integrating a variable part in their stamp according to the gauge and attendance in the arenas” adds Viard.

France on the move

France initiated this process that Spain followed, which made it possible to limit the consequences for this temporada. With the identical effort made by the ganaderos, this reduced the cost of novilladas by 7 or 8,000 euros (they came back to around 35,000 euros in 3rd arenas and 45,000 euros in 1st category arenas like Nîmes). “The objective was for a novillada to be balanced with the presence of 1000 spectators in the plazas of 3e”, concludes André Viard. Indeed, these Ferias are struggling to fill their arenas and their salvation requires the involvement of volunteers in refreshments and meals to balance the deficit budget for shows.

New meetings are planned this fall to perpetuate these emoluments during the next season. At least. The economic and health situation will always have devastating effects on the bullfighting ecosystem. Failure to agree would have dramatic consequences by discouraging small arenas from maintaining their ferias or even falling into disarray like last week in Villaseca de la Sagra.

A strike of the picadors and banderilleros

Indeed, the Spanish town hall applied an agreement signed with a minority union of picadors and banderilleros to apply fees lower than the minimum emoluments. Suddenly, the subordinates, supported by the union of bullfighters chaired by El Fundi, went on strike in the morning of the novilladas by threatening the novilleros with a boycott if they performed in the evening. This conflict agitated all bullfighting Spain for a week with young people declaring forfeit a few hours from the paseo and offered a degraded image of bullfighting. After visits from the labor inspectorate, the case will probably end in court.

Hence the importance of negotiating balanced agreements because the situation of novilleros is already quite complicated and worried about the future of bullfighting. The paseos are rare, they play the life sometimes losing money and face cattle of the size of toros with limited experience and technical background.


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