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Interview with Laurence Philippot-Reulet, the Entertainment manager

Laurence Philippot Reulet joined the Normandy Organising Committee as head of entertainment and activities in January 2012. Her role? To come up with a programme of non-sporting activities during the two weeks of the Games: demonstrations, beginners’ lessons, horse shows…as well as concerts, theme days… The perfect opportunity for Laurence to let her imagination run riot.

Interview with Laurence Philippot-Reulet, the Entertainment manager
© Kit Houghton / FEI


WHAT ARE THE MAIN AIMS OF THE ENTERTAINMENT PROJECT?

There are a number of them and we need to focus on the skills to be found in the local area if we are to be able to put a project together:

The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games ™ 2014 in Normandy are all about sport. Our first challenge is to have something going on in between the different sporting competitions. We need to find ways of keeping the horse riding public interested; indeed I have been learning a lot about “the horse family” over the last 10 months. I’m constantly asking the experts what they’re expecting and what will get them to go to the Games’ Village in the centre of Caen. Is it getting up close to the horses, being in contact with them? Is it finding out about new equestrian skills, watching displays of the highest equestrian excellence…? My aim is to break down certain boundaries between different equestrian worlds; pitting different disciplines against each other, seeing the others at their best  – why don’t we get the reining aficionados against the fans of dressage?

The second issue at hand is one that’s a real ambition for us: creating a link between sport and equestrian culture in general.

Those who live here, the Normans and holidaymakers often don’t even realise how much this part of the country is intricately entwined with the equestrian world.  You could certainly say that many are completely unaware of what’s going on around them! It’s our role in the entertainment & activities department to make them sit up and notice. For example, there will be daily concerts at the equestrianvillage. Music is so universal, it has the ability to touch everyone, the young and the not so young, and it will be the excuse to get newcomers to the very nerve centre of the event.

Inside the village, the public will get to discover all the different types of equestrian sports as well as the various equine professions ( farriers, saddle makers, horse breeders, research…). They will even be able to try their hand (for real or commuter-assisted) at some of these specialities for the first time , or get to grips with the science behind ethology…We will do our very best to change the public’s outlook, and to prove that equestrianism is not just some elitist activity!

On a completely different note, another major challenge for us is to showcase the entire area of Normandy. With an international public of about sixty different nations in and about the Village, it’s important to draw their attention to Normandy’s culture, its distinctive features, its gastronomy, its creativity… We want to attract this public to the area and show them all a very warm welcome.

WHAT DO YOU IMAGINE THE EQUESTRIAN VILLAGE TO BE LIKE?

Attractive, friendly and exciting! The village will be open all day. Access will be free for those with tickets to the various competition venues and accessible to all other visitors on payment of an entrance fee. Located between the “Zénith” and the “Parc des expositions” exhibition centre, this vast 25-hectare outdoor area will provide an exciting escape from reality. It will be made up of different themed-areas: Country & Western, Circus, Normandy, sporting exploits.

There will also be restaurants and themed-bars that will prove just as welcoming. We are also planning to have an enormous outdoor arena for demonstrations and displays, an equestrian tradesman’s village, which will hopefully have horseshoe making demonstrations with a real forge. The public will also be able to visit special stables housing horses and different types of horse-drawn carriages. Children will have their own unique area with a riding ring, ponies, merry-go-rounds with wooden horses… And then music will play a very important part of the proceedings with a mix of local artists and a few “big names”: a diverse programme that will be put together by the local organisers.

SO YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT GETTING THE LOCAL REGIONAL PLAYERS INVOLVED AND OF THEIR KNOW-HOW, BUT HOW ARE YOU GOING TO WORK TOGETHER ON THIS PROJECT?

We have already had consultative meetings with local representatives. We have looked at how to target the public we want to reach, the ways to make them a part of the event and not just uninvolved bystanders.  For the moment, we have come up with a general working outline but we will need to make sure that it fits in with the overall territorial project. Various projects for Normandy will be developed from 2013 and leading right up to the Games. Having these local players on board gives whatever we want to offer the public a sense of credibility and places us as a vital link: these artists, associations, equestrian centres, athletes and organisers were all around before we came on the scene and they’ll still be there long after the event. Our role is to bring them into the limelight during the 15 days of competition!

We’re also thinking about setting up an exhibition starting in 2013. The idea is that it will unfold month after month right up to the event; a sort of museum of the great Norman outdoors. The aim is to involve different local players, and it will be designed to inform and educate from a social and touristic point of view.  We were thinking of something a little offbeat like an in-depth insight into the relationship between man and horse all around the world.

To be able to tell a story that makes sense, which includes everyone from riders to stud farms, from beginners to equestrian schools, we need some kind of direction, a guiding light if you like. With this in mind, we have the pleasure of welcoming Bernard Faivre d’Arcier onto the team. Drawing from his rich experience in French and European cultural matters*, he will be able to lead the way in getting involvement from the entire territory and elsewhere. He’ll be able to show us how to come up with a coherent schedule.  Don’t forget, the opening ceremony that we are concocting will set the pace for the 15 days of festivities. It needs to suit both the sporting public and those who have nevereven been near a horse before.



Laurence Philippot – Reulet’s profile : Operations coordinator for the Festival Normandie Impressionniste 2010 – commissioner general for the Transat Jacques Vabre 2009 village – general coordinator for the  Armada 2008 event – operations manager of the Zénith Centre in Rouen (2001-2005) …

*BFA : Member of the Avignon Festival directorate for 15 years, president of the International Fund for the Promotion of Culture at UNESCO, founder & president of  LA SEPT, the French division of the Franco-German cultural television station  ARTE, president of the « Biennales de Lyon » contemporary arts festival, artistic consultant for the festival « Automne en Normandie », vice president of the “Théâtre de la Ville” in Paris …
 

 

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