ELAN celebrated its third year with more firsts! While this stage was still early on in ELAN’s development, our strategic focus turned to questions about the diversity and vitality of our membership. We wanted to know how we could be more effective in diffusing, promoting and improving the work and lives of our members.
To kick off the year, we hosted our first Schmoozer on Valentine’s Day in the single heated room at the Empress Theatre (in NDG). The schmoozer included a guided tour of the once-glamorous, long-abandoned, tragically-dilapidated, and bitterly-frigid shell of a theatre that community partners had ambitious plans to resurrect.
As a great way for members to meet other artists in and outside of their disciplines, Schmoozers became a regular part of our programming. Scores of artists have initiated friendships and professional collaborations at ELAN Schmoozers.
We’ve hosted events around the province, including Quebec City, the Eastern Townships (Knowlton, Sherbrooke, Sutton, North Hatley), Morrin Heights, and Gatineau (Wakefield and Chelsea). Some of our most popular Schmoozers over the years have been partnerships with Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF), Quebec Drama Federation (QDF), the Fringe Festival, the Montreal Film Group and the McGill School of Music.
During the previous year, ELAN moved from a corner of Quebec Writers’ Federation office in the Atwater Library to a shared office at the Lachine Canal Complex, complete with sparkling views of passing pleasure craft and paddling kayaks. We didn’t get a lot of drop-in visits from members on the canal but the office was close to the McAuslan Terrace, which was home to many memorable schmoozers.
A key strategic issue for us at this stage was securing ELAN’s stability as an organization. This meant thinking about funding and planning for the long term, understanding the capacity of ELAN’s staff and resources, and defining the roles and responsibilities of our board. With a growing membership, it was also important for us to develop a deeper understanding of members’ needs that would shape our services.
Between 2006-2007, we surveyed ELAN members to identify key areas of interest for professional development and the perennial need for artists’ access to funding. We developed an online job board, hosted Artist Talks that shared practical expertise, and collaborated with YES Montreal to offer business training and entrepreneurial skills for young artists. In October of 2007, we hosted a day-long Grant Writing Workshop that was organized with Canada Council and was attended by 100 people.
It was clear that ELAN could become a valuable resource for members by making documents, guides and research widely available for English-speaking artists in Quebec. We made workshop notes from the Canada Council grant writing workshop available to the public, and constructed an Arts Services Kit (ASK) that was incorporated into our website. Over the years, we have continued to share guides and tool-kits through our Documents archive, a small sample of which includes the Getting Media Attention Workshop Summary (2015), ACCORD Artists Toolkit (2016), the Visual Arts Market Access Panel Summary (2016).
Based on interviews and focus groups with ELAN members and allies, we produced a Strategic Plan that would guide our programming and identify key areas of concern for artists in Quebec, which, in 2019, continue to guide our work. We wanted to ensure that the French-speaking community saw us as a partner in the creation and promotion of the arts in Quebec. We understood that there was important work to do in strengthening the ties between arts and education—work that would lead to successful projects like ACE Initiative and Artists Inspire Grants.
One of ELAN’s major roles was, and continues to be, to give a clear voice to the concerns of our members and to be a catalyst for promoting multicultural and multidisciplinary exchanges. ELAN has been a member of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) since 2005. Along with the QDF, ELAN has promoted artists and the arts as an important part of the English-speaking community. QCGN played an instrumental role in helping ELAN write to major applications that would result in Recognizing Artists, Enfin Visible! (RAEV).
During 2006-07, ELAN’s Advocacy Group prepared briefs for the reorganization of le Conseil des arts de Montréal, the Standing Committee of the CBC, the Standing Committee on Official Languages, and the CRTC. ELAN was increasingly approached by government bodies to give the English-language arts community representation in public consultations where our community was previously unrepresented.