Connecting Art and Education
ELAN’s first foray into connecting the arts with education was made via a project called ArtWorks, spearheaded by the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC). Artworks was developed with involvement from ELAN, the Quebec Drama Federation (QDF), the Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF), and artists from the music, dance and visual arts communities, who contributed suggestions from their respective disciplines to create an ArtWorks Career Day with the Riverside School Board on the South Shore of Montreal. A dozen artists, working in different disciplines, shared their creativity with students and answered questions about careers in the arts.
The first second year of the ArtWorks Career Day connected artists with additional schools in Laval and the Eastern Townships. Through feedback from participating artists and school administrators, the project identified a clear need to convey the importance of arts and culture within educational environments, and to connect school administrators with funding for arts programming. ArtWorks served as a model for what would later become the Arts, Culture, Education (ACE) Initiative.
Bettina Forget (vice-president), Peter MacGibbon (president), Tim Brady (treasurer), Guy Rodgers – at Shift Space.
Photo by: Sandra Lynn Belanger
Made au Québec
In 2012, ELAN received funding for a linguistic duality project to promote English-language artists to the francophone community. Known as Made au Québec, ELAN’s project aggregated and translated media coverage about English-speaking artists living in Quebec. The project responded to a sparse representation of English-speaking artists in French-language media, despite the significant achievements of local artists like Grimes, Sam Roberts, Arcade Fire, Louise Penny, Rawi Hage and Yannic Truesdale, who put Montreal on the map as a city flourishing with artistic vitality.
The launch of ELAN’s Made au Québec aggregation website received unprecedented media coverage from francophone media, including La Presse and Le Devoir, as well as The Montreal Gazette, CBC Radio, Huffington Post, and across three different programs on Radio-Canada.
Made au Québec negotiated media sponsorships and co-promotion deals with VOIR and Urbania magazine, making significant strides for the visibility of English-speaking artists in Quebec. The project was honoured with a cover story in the francophone culture weekly VOIR, and four additional columns devoted to English-speaking artists in specific disciplines. This was one of VOIR’s final issues before it joined the Montreal Mirror, Hour and Ici in the annals of dearly departed cultural weeklies.
Dimitri Nasrallah (editor of Minority Report) and Monika Majewski (ex-ELAN staff, career consultant at YES at the time)
Photo by: Sandra Lynn Belanger
Broadcasting and Advocacy
Guy Rodgers presenting proposition for Vidéotron to create an English-language community channel in Montreal (which would result in Vidéotron allocating 20% of MAtv’s budget and airtime to English-language production).
Photo by: Unknown (If you are the photographer of this photo, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can credit you!)
Increased cuts to funding in local media, and the disappearance of print media, incited ELAN’s board to create a Media Committee to examine the existing media landscape. The Committee explored ways to connect a variety of non-traditional media sources like blogs and online services with broader audiences. The work of the Media Committee would inform ELAN’s later projects like Digital Shift and Digital Solutions.
In 2013, ELAN participated in a number of important advocacy initiatives. Guy Rodgers was re-elected for a two-year mandate to the board of Culture Montréal, where he also chaired the Diversity Committee and sat on the Committee to Promote the French Language.
At the time, the Government of Canada commissioned a report on The Creative Economy and the English Speaking Communities in Quebec (ESCQ). ELAN’s Executive Director, Guy Rodgers, sat on the Steering Committee that consulted on the research conducted by Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN), the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC) and the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).
The Creative Economy report examined how “little research has actually been conducted on the factors that shape English-speakers’ participation in the creative economy”. The report found that there was a clear need for more programs and initiatives to “assist English-speaking cultural workers [to] integrate into the Francophone cultural networks”, and clearly cited the need to address “socioeconomic forces” like gentrification and cultural prejudice.
ELAN continued to make strides in broadcasting advocacy, partnering with QCGN to form an alliance to intervene in CRTC’s public hearings on Vidéotron’s Montreal license renewal. Two public meetings and representations were held, resulting in a resolution to establish an English-language community TV channel in the Montreal area, which would be complementary to Vidéotron’s French-language community TV channel MAtv.
The joint intervention by ELAN and QCGN into CRTC’s license renewal for CBC also had important impacts on community broadcasting. The CRTC decision stated that under the new licence conditions, CBC Montreal must produce at least 14 hours of local programming, at least one of which would be dedicated to non-news programming. CBC would also be required to consult with Official Language Minority Communities. The licence affected the 900,000 English-speaking Quebecers living Quebec.
This decision was especially timely, as another point of advocacy in 2013 was ELAN’s push-back on Bill 14, which was the Parti Quebecois’ proposed revision of Bill 101. ELAN made interventions in the media and at the National Assembly.
The first alarm bell concerns the private use of language. Mother tongue and language used at home have no direct correlation to public language […]
The second alarm bell concerns treating the interests of ethnic francophones as synonymous with defence of the French language […]
The third alarm bell concerns the failure to distinguish local use of English from the global presence of English as a language of commerce, diplomacy and mass culture […]
ELAN pushed back against the Bill 14 on the basis that there must not be different classes of citizens based on a “francophone ethnicity”. ELAN’s submission stated:
“’Francophile’ is not specific to language use, and ‘francophone’ has historical and ethnical connotations which do not naturally encompass French-speaking anglophones and allophones.”
The Parti Quebecois ultimately lost the 2014 election before the Bill was voted into law.
ELAN’s Near-Death Experience
In 2013, the Department of Canada put the Community Cultural Action Fund on hold for a year to review its guidelines. The absence of this important funding source for a year left ELAN without sufficient revenues to maintain two full-time salaries. As a result, staff hours and salaries were decreased to three days per week when the new financial year began on April 1. By June, ELAN’s office manager had resigned and ELAN was reduced to two summer students and a part-time Executive Director.
To improve ELAN’s funding situation, Executive Director Guy Rodgers, President Peter MacGibbon, and past president Chuck Childs arranged meetings with several government departments. It was a great relief when additional funding was secured, allowing ELAN to restore full staffing by the end of the summer. Core funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage was increased for 2014-2016.
This near-death experience for ELAN coincided with a critical period of strategic planning. In 2013, ELAN developed a 2014-19 Strategic Plan with the addition of anticipated projects, such as the 10th Anniversary, State of the Arts 2019, and what would become Arts Alive! Quebec.
ELAN’s 2013 Annual General Meeting. Left to right: Chuck Childs, Guy Rodgers, Valerie Buddle, Bettina Forget, Peter MacGibbon, Shelagh Plunkett, Anne Clark, Rob Lutes, Kristelle Holliday, Tim Brady, Yael Filipovitch, and Jacqueline Davis – at Shift Space.
Photo by: Sandra Lynn Belanger