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Shows cancelled at France's d'Avignon theatre festival as workers protest unemployment changes

Part-time and temporary arts workers, striking artists and theater personnel, known as 'intermittents', attend a general assembly, in Avignon, France, Friday, July 4, 2014. Organizers of one of Europe’s premier theater festivals are cancelling some shows amid a protest movement by cultural workers over changes to their off-season unemployment benefits. The director of the Festival d’Avignon, Olivier Py, told journalists in Avignon that two plays scheduled for Friday’s opening night have been called off. The CGT union announced a strike, but it’s unclear how many workers will take part. Banner reads :"That we defend, we defend for all". (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

AVIGNON, France – One of Europe’s premier theatre festivals is cancelling some shows as French workers protest changes to their off-season unemployment benefits.

The director of the Festival d’Avignon, Olivier Py, told journalists in Avignon that two plays scheduled to run on Friday’s opening night have been cancelled.

The CGT union announced a strike but it’s unclear how many workers are taking part.

Hundreds of seasonal theatre workers and other artistic workers have demonstrated in recent weeks against a plan by France’s indebted government to streamline and reduce the unemployment benefits they receive in the off-season. The dispute threatens to disrupt arts festivals across the country this summer.

The Festival d’Avignon in Provence is a three-week smorgasbord of theatre, dance and eclectic performances that draws visitors from around the world.