Based in Villiers-le-Bel (95), in the east of the Val-d’Oise district (Greater Paris region), since its creation, ACTA (Association de Création Théâtrale et Audiovisuelle – Organisation for Theatrical and Audiovisual Creation) creates and presents productions in France and abroad. Founded by Agnès Desfosses in 1989, it has been directed since 2014 by the director Laurent Dupont – Agnès Desfosses remains an associate artist of the company.

In 2023, Eleonora Ribis, artistic director of the Mélampo company, became an associate artist of ACTA, taking part in the creations as an outside eye, in ACTA’s community projects, and in the programming of the PREMIÈRES RENCONTRES 2024 festival and its European Forum.

During its years of existence, ACTA has created work for all ages. From the very beginning, Agnès Desfosses has worked to legitimise the place of the inhabitants of working-class neighbourhoods, who have been ignored and not listened to, through her photographs, plays and performances.

Today, ACTA is as a company that creates shows for young and very young spectators and the adults who accompany them.

Their mission is built on five main pillars of activity:

ACTA brings together different artistic languages (song, dance, acrobatics, texts by contemporary authors, photography, visual arts) on stage. The productions and community projects that emerge from these encounters are the various forms of a research into the contemporary world, seeking to be more in touch with it, to get to know it, and to listen to it.

In Villiers-le-Bel, and more widely in the Île-de-France region and the rest of France, ACTA regularly carries out cultural activities with the population, combining theatre, speech and writing, photography, visual arts and music, in order to stimulate young children’s imagination and, always in the context of the children-parents-early childhood and cultural professionals relationship, to develop reflections on artistic awakening in the various communities we work with.

ACTA is also committed to supporting contemporary creation by hosting and supporting French and European artistic teams through a residency program in its premises. These residencies are carried out through two distinct schemes: the Pépite scheme for companies that create work for young and very young audiences, and the Passerelle scheme for companies that create work for all audiences.

Since 2004, ACTA has organised the European Bienniale “Premières Rencontres: art, petite enfance et spectacle vivant” (“First Encounters : art, early childhood and live performance”). In ten editions, numerous European companies have been welcomed throughout the Val-d’Oise and Seine-et-Marne districts in the Greater Paris region in order to promote the issues at stake in contemporary creation for young and very young audiences.

Lastly, ACTA offers training-encounters to professionals from early childhood and cultural settings in the Val-d’Oise and Greater Paris region. At the European level, ACTA has been taking part since 2017 in training projects funded by Eramus+, bringing together professionals from the early childhood, cultural, educational and social sectors from four different countries: Scotland, Spain, France and the Netherlands.

Deep community engagement

ACTA has been involved for many years in its local area – the town of Villiers-le-Bel. The socio-cultural specificities of the city make it a rich and constantly evolving territory: located in the north of Paris, close to Charles de Gaulle Airport, Villiers-le-Bel is a city of passage, where numerous communities with multiple cultural origins cohabit in a fragmented space, where encounters and exchanges are essential.

These contributions are sources of observation and questioning, but also of enrichment for the work of our company, which aims to listen to the inhabitants who make up the city and nourish it.

In this way, ACTA continually affirms its interest in popular cultures, whatever their origins, and the consideration of their transformations. The creations are aimed at a wide audience, from the youngest to the oldest, initiated or not, to ensure our work is accessible to as many people as possible, with the desire to support the inhabitants in feeling that their cultural participation is legitimate.

ACTA ensures the development of a local network mobilising partners from different sectors, united by the issue of early childhood, around artistic and cultural proposals. These proposals are developed in collaboration with project leaders and elected officials of the city, involving – depending on the project – various local bodies, such as the cultural organisations, the educational and social network, early childhood organisations, schools and colleges, day-care centres, as well as community centres and various local organisations.

European outreach

Driven by a strong desire to open up to the international scene, it is thanks to its artistic curiosity for childhood and early childhood that ACTA has been able to develop exciting links at a European level.

The company has been invited to tour in festivals and venues in Portugal, Spain, Germany, Austria, Holland and Finland, to publish in Germany, to participate in numerous symposiums in France and abroad, and to run workshops in Great Britain.

Since 2004, with the first edition of the European Biennial “Premières Rencontres – Art, petite enfance et spectacle vivant”, ACTA has been committed to the development of a European network of early childhood creation in order to nourish its own work and the proposals addressed to the territory’s public with European contributions and reflections.

By participating in two European Erasmus+ projects and one European Grundtvig project, mobilising foreign artists and early childhood structures in the Île-de-France (Villiers-le-Bel and Mitry-Mory), we have seen the positive effects of this connection between local structures and foreign companies.

Finally, since 2022, we have opened our residency programme Pépite to foreign companies in order to strengthen this European dynamic in our region, enriching it with new creative challenges, listening to these artists from elsewhere, and reflecting the socio-cultural and political specificities of their home region.