Culture is an unpredictable, volatile business. Just ask any of the three Quebec Ministers of Culture and Communications who have held the portfolio in the past 18 months.
Hélène David launched Quebec’s Cultural Policy review, then moved to Higher Education in the 2016 cabinet reshuffle. ELAN would like to thank David’s successor Luc Fortin for making a valiant effort to walk the tightrope of promoting French-language culture while recognizing that English-speaking artists have also made important contributions. Now the Cultural Policy dossier has been entrusted to a new face, Marie Montpetit. We wish her well and expect she will respect the commitments made by her predecessor.
Meanwhile, the optimism surrounding CALQ’s 2016-19 Cultural Diversity Action Plan (FR only) turned to confusion, disappointment, and anger for many culturally diverse artists and organizations when this summer’s funding results were announced (see this article in Le Devoir). During the question period at CALQ’s annual information session for arts service organizations, I asked CEO Anne-Marie Jean if she was aware of the negative response. She replied that a Cultural Diversity Action Plan does not mean that every culturally diverse organization will be funded. Fair enough. But that doesn’t explain why award-winning culturally diverse artists and organizations were cut or not funded.
Additionally, the Quebec Drama Federation, a venerable service organization, has been granted one final year of reduced funding before being cut completely. How could such a drastic decision be made without asking the English theatre community if it collectively benefits from the work QDF does?
CALQ has agreed to meet with QDF and PACT (Professional Association of Canadian Theatres) to discuss hard questions about what it means to value cultural diversity. We hope these meetings will restore confidence in how CALQ’s decisions are made.