I just love tales of artists gone wild and wow, did Bartabas go wild! Or just plain nuts.
New Yorkers may know the monomonickered Bartabas as the leader of the equestrian troupe Zingaro, whose shows Chimere and Eclipse were seen here (under a bigtop) a few years ago. In addition to Zingaro, he runs an equestrian academy in Versailles. Bartabas is all about the poetry of the horse, the unique relationship between man and animal, etc. It's like a highbrow version of Steve Irwin set to world music, an approach that doesn't particularly touch me but whatev'—he's popular.
Back in December, our whisperer du cheval was supposed to meet with a representative from the regional cultural-affairs office to discuss public subsidies to the academy. When told that 4% of the 2008 state contribution was going to be put on hold, Bartabas flipped out, threw a chair at his interlocutor and smashed his desk, stormed out of the office and wrecked xerox machines and a radiator on his way out. He spent the night at the police station.
As if this wasn't embarrassing enough, the latest news is that Bartabas has just sent a letter to the French minister of culture asking her to apologize for preventing him to perform the night of the incident. It's this kind arrogant sense of entitlement that gives cultural subsidies (which I unequivocally support) a bad name. On the other hand, it's small potatoes compared to the current cultural, er, forays made by President Sarkozy.