Bruno Cochet, director of the Rungis theater and member of the SNSP (National Union of Public Stages), has been co-producing the Basketteuses de Bamako project for over a year, a show created by Thomas Guérineau as part of the Cultural Olympiads of the 2024 Olympic Games , mixing music, dance and juggling.

The performance features six Malian artists and basketball players, who, in October, must come and rehearse for a few weeks in France before the premiere scheduled for March 2024. Their arrival requires a visa that the director is struggling to obtain. An obstacle course. The request dates from July. Having contacted the Ministry of Culture, via the SNSP, he was patient when he was told that the problem was more the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs than the Ministry of Culture. But after the comments of Rima Abdul Malak, this morning on RTL, who returned to the directive requesting the suspension of all collaboration with artists from Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, Bruno Cochet sees things differently.

LE FIGARO. – You have been working on the Basketteuses de Bamako project for over a year. Before July, did you ever encounter any problems putting on the show?

Bruno COCHET. – Not at all. The show involved traveling to Bamako, and we never had any problems getting there. It was when we applied for a visa to bring the six Malian artists that the setbacks began. We learned that visas were no longer issued to nationals of Mali. We passed on the information and questioned the Ministry of Culture, via the SNSP.

What was your response?

That the problem was a matter of French foreign policy and that until further notice there was no visa. But the message sent by the regional cultural directorates has changed the situation a little.

In what?

At that time, the visa refusal was no longer the order of Foreign Affairs, but an injunction not to program artists coming from Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. As an obstacle to the freedom of programming and creation. The words of the Minister of Culture, Friday morning on RTL, reassured us, when she declared that the non-issuance of visas did not in any way concern a boycott of artists but technical problems linked to the security of civil servants and the closure of consulates. Which is perfectly understandable. But in our opinion, if these difficulties are technical and do not relate to a question of authorization to enter the territory, they can be overcome.


We ask the ministry, still via the SNSP, to look into the solution of the consulates of neighboring countries, like Senegal or the Ivory Coast, for the issuance of visas to artists who must come to work in France. A solution that has already been implemented in other circumstances. We are currently awaiting his response.

In the meantime, what are the prospects for the show?

There are several possible scenarios. Either the artists obtain a work visa for several months, or Thomas Guérineau goes to Bamako to have them rehearse, which is riskier. And this possibility does not at all resolve the question of creation and distribution in France from March. It is obvious that the project is called into question. Are we going to commit so much money, public in this case, if in the end the show cannot take place? The question will seriously arise.