ELAN History Series: 2017

New Funding for Staff, New Offices, New Initiatives

First day after moving ELAN from shared space at 610 to our very own office at 708. Arts Alive! Québec assistant, Sarah Lozinski.
Photo by Guy Rodgers

 

2017 was a momentous year for ELAN’s growth, as it was the first year ELAN became eligible for, and received, multi-year operating funding from Le Conseil des Arts et des Letters du Québec (CALQ), and from the Canada Council. This additional core funding enabled ELAN to double its staff by creating two new full-time positions: a Communications and Outreach Coordinator and a Membership Services Coordinator. Many of our members will recognize these two positions as, usually, their first point of contact with ELAN.

ELAN also moved into a larger office on the seventh floor of 460 Sainte-Catherine. Since 2009, ELAN had shared office space on the sixth floor with the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) and Repercussion Theatre. Just steps away from the Belgo Building (home to many visual art galleries and Studio 303), 460 Sainte-Catherine remains one of Montreal’s hubs for performing arts organizations, including Festival TransAmériques (FTA), le Conseil québécois du théâtre (CQT), the Quebec Drama Federation (QDF), Repercussions Theatre, Teesri Duniya Theatre and Rubber Band Dance, among others.

2017 was also an important year for ELAN’s action on integration inclusion, diversity and equity into the organizational structure. ELAN began work on an Inclusion Plan that would outline actions to be taken by ELAN over a five-year period from 2017-2022. The Inclusion Plan was an initiative started by ELAN’s Board of Directors and mediated by Amy MacDonald. It spurred the creation of an Inclusion Committee.

Over the course of 2017-18, ELAN also partnered with Diversité artistique Montréal (DAM) to promote and analyze the results of their independent commission on systemic racism. The consultation was organized by the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ).

The arts, cultural, and media communities are not immune to systemic racism. Compounding the consequence of this discrimination is the fact that Quebec’s population draws its representations of visible minorities from cultural and artistic productions and events. Eradicating systemic racism requires an effort to create a more inclusive, shared vision that reflects Quebec society. The issue of racism in cultural and media ecosystems is not only crucial for individuals working in these environments, but also has broader ramifications, as it calls into question the values that we, as a society, wish to foster.

Press release by Diversité artistique Montréal.


Arts Alive! Quebec  #3

ELAN was granted a sizable budget for the third edition of Arts Alive! Quebec (AAQ) from Canada’s 150th anniversary fund. The 2017 edition of AAQ was by far the biggest version with 50% more budget than previous years, which enabled us to hire ELAN members to perform at the regional events. ELAN welcomed Anne Clark as Project Manager, taking over from Elsa Bolam.

The third edition of AAQ produced a wide variety of artistic events in six regions identified with active English-speaking arts communities. As in previous years, AAQ events featured showcases in all disciplines and entire towns participated in the regional festivals.  To stimulate hands-on participation, each region produced workshops for children and adults: storytelling, drawing, painting, writing, songwriting, film making, improvisation, drumming, crafts, and DJing.

Huntingdon’s events, including the popular Teddy Bear Picnic, were staged on the pastoral grounds surrounding Grove Hall, a recently converted performing arts space in a historic setting on the banks of the Chateauguay River. In Quebec City, ELAN partnered with the Morrin Centre (home of the venerable Literary and Historical Society, as well as Quebec City’s oldest library and prison) to host a street-fair and writing workshops for all ages. Knowlton featured musical and theatrical performances at Knowlton Theatre, in local churches, and at an outdoor theatre in the verdant park at the heart of the town.

Hudson showcased their thriving arts community with an artisan market and special presentations by the Hudson Village Theatre, Hudson Film Society, and Greenwood’s StoryFest. In Wakefield, ELAN partnered up with the La Pêche Community Centre and the Ta Da! Festival to produce a wide range of performances and workshops for adults and children. In Montreal’s West Island, ELAN returned to Pointe Claire for a showcase of artists and artisans at St. John Fisher Elementary School.

Knowlton Arts Alive! Québec – Drumming workshop in Gazebo.
Photo by: Guy Rodgers

Market Access Projects and Career Labs

Visual Arts Market Access project at Parisian Gallery. L-r Alex Fialho (Brooklyn, NY), Amy Macdonald, Ximena Holuigue (project manager) Emelie Chhangur (Toronto), Stephen Lawson (project manager), Larry Ossei-Mensah (Bronx, NY), Guy Rodgers
Photo by Kinga Michalska

ELAN’s Performing Arts Market Access (PAMA) project hosted a music showcase in June 2017 at the Northside Festival (NYC) with Ought, Men I Trust, Common Holly, and Elle Barbara’s Black Space. Organized by Emilia Alvarez and Mariam Assaf, the event was sold out and created a solid buzz.

As part of the PAMA project, ELAN also organized a workshop series called Savvy Sessions, organized by June Park.  Dozens of sessions featured a diverse roster of artists and arts organizations from around Quebec. The workshops addressed disciplinary concerns, including promoting and circulating dance performances, grant-writing and marketing essentials, taxes for artists, and integrating elements of social design into artistic productions.

The third edition of the Visual Arts Market Access project brought two curators and art experts from New York and one from Toronto—a highly useful market for Quebec’s English-speaking artists. Visiting from Toronto was Emelie Chhangur, an artist and award-winning curator and writer. From New York City, ELAN welcomed Alex Fialho, Programs Director at Visual AIDS in New York City who facilitated projects and conversations around both the history and immediacy of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and Larry Ossei-Mensah, a Ghanaian-American independent curator and cultural critic.

The curators conducted studio visits in Montreal and with artists from the year’s target region of West Quebec. A panel discussion and reception at Parisian Laundry allowed over 75 artists and curators to learn about the curators’ work, ask questions and network.

Over the winter of 2017-18, ELAN hosted a popular series of Career Labs organized by ELAN Program manager Amy Macdonald. The Career Labs featured wide variety of workshops in Montreal and the regions, as well as individual consultations. The series placed emerging artists directly in conversation with artists who have established careers with Montreal as a home base, encouraging open, honest, and practical discussions about the difficult aspects that working artists face: dealing with money (or lack thereof), talking about your work, maintaining balance, learning from failure, building support networks, standing up for yourself, and more.

Moe Clark Career Labs

Moe Clark Career Labs workshop leader along with Jacob Wren on: Risk and Resilience – Living Artistically with Yourself and with Others
Photo by: Amy MacDonald 

Arts, Communities and Education (ACE)

The Arts, Communities and Education (ACE) Initiative worked with five partners in its second year to develop projects in Vaudreuil-Dorion, Eastern Townships (Knowlton and Sutton), Lower North Shore (Harrington Harbour, Chevery), Montérégie (Cedar Street Elementary in Richilieu Valley, St. Lawrence Elementary in Candiac with Kateri School in Kahnawake), and Saint-Lambert. These programs were aimed at connecting seniors and students, supporting Indigenous reconciliation, and creating access to art in suburban, rural and remote areas.

The ACE Initiative explored intercultural learning by connecting students with Indigenous histories and traditions in their communities. In April 2017, Multidisciplinary Métis artist and community arts educator Moe Clark worked with Grade 3 students at St. Lawrence Elementary school in Candiac to create soundscapes in conjunction with Cedar Street in Beloeil and Kateri School in Kahnawakhe. The students had previously worked with artist and teacher Diane Gendron to create small canoes with canvas and paint, while students at Kateri School created canoes with traditional beading techniques.

Students in Knowlton, Sutton and Waterloo participated in an intergenerational project that connected them on a weekly basis with seniors at Manoir Lac Brome, Le Foyer Sutton, and Courville Residence in Waterloo. The ACE Artists for the intergenerational projects were Laura Teasdale, Tamara Burcombe, Marie Andre Leblond, Qita Reindler, and Lucy Hoblyn. Over 100 people—including school administration, coordinators at the senior residences, and volunteers—directly participated in the ACE intergenerational project.

Beloeil and Kateri Schools ACE

Arts, Community, Education (ACE) project. Kahnawà:ke Kateri School cultural exchange day with students from Cedar Street and St-Lawrence schools (Beloeil)  –  The Story of the Birch Bark Canoe.
Photo by: Guy Rodgers 

Digital Solutions

In 2017, ELAN completed the first full year of work on the new Digital Solutions project, which grew out of the work initiated by the Media Committee and insights gained from the #DigiCanCon public consultation in previous years. ELAN began surveying the English-speaking arts community for a better understanding of gaps in the promotional use of digital media.

Project Manager Dan Webster surveyed more than thirty artists and arts producers of multiple disciplines to find out whether English-speaking creators in Quebec had the tools they needed to reach the public and grow their audiences. The project also conducted a survey of twenty media outlets, from freelance journalists to media conglomerates. ELAN also held focus groups with artists, arts producers and media outlets, as well as interviews with seven technical specialists and four media marketing specialists.

The Digital Solutions project clearly showed that the majority of respondents were spending a disproportionate amount of time trying to promote arts events online, with few resources and tangible results. Close to 80% of the respondents wanted a more comprehensive listings platform to increase visibility for English-language arts productions in Quebec. The results of ELAN’s Digital Solutions surveys would inform the next stages of the project, which would develop a concept and working prototype for a digital listings platform.

Board Retreat 2017

2017 Board Retreat – Left to right: Deborah Forde, Kristelle Holiday, Karen Cho, Khosro Berahmandi, Paul Bracegirdle, and Louise Campbell. 
Photo by: Guy Rodgers 

Advocacy

In tandem with the 375th anniversary of Montreal’s foundation, the city revised its Cultural Development Policy in 2017. ELAN was the major English-language intervener on the revised policy, proposing an integrated view of culture that would consider English-speaking artists as part of the city’s cultural mosaic in our brief on the policy. The city’s new Cultural Policy stated that a priority would be to “improve the representation of Montreal’s cultural diversity and of culturally diverse artists, as well as of those from Indigenous and anglophone communities, as much in programming as in the audience”.

ELAN also participated in the inaugural meeting of the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers (SRESQ), created by Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government. The SRESQ, headed by Minister Kathleen Weil, announced $950,000 in funding for five community-based projects).

The first recipients for the new funding were the English Language Arts Network (ELAN), the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), Quebec English-speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN), the Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders (CAMI), and the Eastern Townships Resource Centre (ETRC).  ELAN received $230,000 to develop a new two-year project built on the ACE Initiative, targeting 10 to 15 schools for arts-based projects that will develop transferable skills and creative thinking.

In late summer, shortly before the provincial election, the Secretariat funded ELAN for the Québec Relations project, to identify and catalogue all sources of provincial funding that can assist artistic and cultural organizations. Many of these potential sources of funding were previously unknown and untapped. The English-speaking community was relieved that the new Coalition Avenir Québec government committed on-going support to the SRESQ and increased its funding.