Gaul culture czar booted

Aillagon sacked after left wing victory

PARIS — Jean-Jacques Aillagon, the Gallic culture minister who cut showbiz workers’ employment benefits, was booted from his post Wednesday.

The ax fell as President Chirac reshuffled his right-wing government following an overwhelming victory for the left in regional elections.

Aillagon’s star waned after the conflict with part-time showbiz workers erupted last summer into strikes and the cancellation of the Avignon theater fest, among other cultural events.

He has been replaced by Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, onetime secretary of state for European affairs who resigned after being accused of money laundering. He was convicted of the charge six weeks ago and forced to pay e15,000 ($18,500).

De Vabres, a conservative not known for his diplomacy, has inherited the showbiz workers problem just as unions are gearing up for the Cannes Film Festival as well as the Avignon fest.

The new culture minister promised Thursday to “do everything possible” to reinstate a dialogue with the workers and to try “to find a solution” to the conflicts.

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