Guy Rodgers introducing the Minute Market

Photo by Kinga Michalska

The decisions by Ontario’s Ford Government to abolish the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner and to renege on a promise to establish a French-language university were unanticipated and shocking. Then came news that Ottawa’s Nouvelle Scene theatre would not receive expected provincial funding. The combined cuts sounded like a deliberate reversal of decades of positive measures in support of Ontario’s French-speaking minorities. Francophone communities across Canada rallied in support of their vulnerable comrades in Ontario.

English- and French-speaking Quebeckers added their voices in support, albeit for slightly different reasons. French-speaking Québécois identify with franco-Ontarians as a vulnerable French-speaking minority within a continent and a world dominated by English. English-speaking Quebeckers identify with franco-Ontarians as a vulnerable minority.

Since its creation, ELAN has worked closely with French-speaking artists across Canada, and particularly with the Ottawa-based national network, la Fédération culturelle des canadienne-française.  The situations for English-speakers inside Quebec and for French-speakers outside Quebec are very different, but we all need to feel like full citizens within our home provinces.

The Quebec government’s creation earlier this year of a Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebeckers sent an encouraging signal. It is easy to appreciate that the abolition of minority language services would be demoralising. Due to the outcry, the Ford government has begun to reverse its ill-advised cuts, which produced small financial savings at a high social cost. This is a victory for the better angels of our human nature.

 

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director


Further Reading

The Star (ENG)
https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2018/11/23/cuts-to-french-language-services-hurt-us-all.html

#ONFR (FR)
https://onfr.tfo.org/crise-linguistique-dix-jours-et-dix-moments/

Journal de Montreal
https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2018/11/22/le-message-de-cet-anglo-ontarien-en-soutien-a-ses-concitoyens-francophones-devient-viral-en-ontario

Guy Rodgers with Mélanie Joly (Minister of Tourism, Official languages and La Francophonie)

A couple of years ago, I was invited to join the board of le Salon du Livre de Montréal, which was seeking to become more diverse and inclusive. Part of ELAN’s mandate is to build bridges with Quebec’s French-speaking artistic community, so I agreed to join, despite knowing that past efforts to create visibility for English-language writers and publishers at the Salon were not successful. That was at a time when the two solitudes were more deeply entrenched. Quebec has changed. The current staff and board of the Salon du Livre made a compelling case to the Quebec Writers’ Federation and the Association of English-Language Publishers of Quebec that it is time to make a fresh start. An agreement was struck, and a large contingent of English-Language writers will appear at this year’s Salon du Livre de Montréal from November 14-19. We hope this will be the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship. If you love books, I highly recommend the adventure. Hope to see you there.

I have two other important new initiatives to mention. Both are products of the federal Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-23. The first is a new Micro Grants programme that will provide funding for all of the 300 schools in Quebec’s English-language school boards to engage artists to work with students. ELAN is helping the Department of Canadian Heritage design a program so simple and user-friendly that every school in Quebec will want to participate several times over the four-year life of the project. This programme will create opportunities for many artists to work in schools.

The second Official Languages programme is designed to assist community media, whose survival has been threatened by the rise of global media conglomerates. Stronger local media means stronger communities. Our French-speaking colleagues outside Quebec have associations to represent community radio and community newspapers. In Quebec, we have the Quebec Community Newspapers Association (QCNA), but no group to represent community radio. ELAN has agreed to fill the gap with the assistance of Hugh Maynard who brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise. You will be hearing a lot more about these two initiatives in the future.

We have a new government in Quebec and a new Minister of Culture and Communications. I wish to congratulate Mme Nathalie Roy on her nomination. Mme Roy has been a member of the National Assembly since 2012 and I’ve had a couple of very positive interactions with her. We were also happy to learn that Mme Roy’s Chief of Staff will be Manon Gauthier, who was responsible for the Cultural and Heritage Portfolio in Denis Coderre’s Montreal administration. ELAN looks forward to working with both of them.

 

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

From Left to Right: Isabelle Shi, Amy Macdonald, Jennifer Broydell, Sufia Duez, Emily Enhorning, and Guy Rodgers at ELAN’s 14th AGM. Photo by: Nasuna Stuart-Ulin.

 

ELAN has an excellent board of directors that takes its responsibilities very seriously as representatives of various artistic disciplines and communities. At our first meeting with the new board, we took a moment to discuss ELAN’s new funding, which greatly increases ELAN’s ability to provide services and to advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking artists. A board member expressed concern that increased funding for ELAN should not cause reduced funding for individual artists and organizations. The ensuing conversation was important, and I would like to take a minute to share the highlights with you.

ELAN has four significant projects underway in 2018/19. None of them has received funding from sources that are available to individual artists or companies. Our State of the Arts project is the third time (previously 2004 and 2011) that ELAN has undertaken outreach to identify community needs and connect with previously unserved groups of artists. The project is funded through the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Strategic Initiatives program. These federal funds are not available to individual artists and are only occasionally allocated to the Quebec region.

Next, the App that ELAN is developing to connect artists and audiences is funded by the federal department of Industry, Science and Economic Development (ISED). These funds are never available to individual artists and are rarely available to the cultural sector. ISED has funded ELAN for two research grants because the potential economic benefits of this work are considerable.

What’s more, ELAN’s Arts, Communities and Education (ACE) project is funded by Quebec’s new Secretariat for Relations with English-Speaking Quebeckers (SRESQ). The Secretariat’s mandate covers the entire spectrum of community needs: health, education, youth, seniors, employability, economic development etc. Because the ACE pilot project (2016-18) demonstrated clear benefits for schools and youth, the SRESQ selected this new ACE project (2018/20) for funding.

ELAN’s most recent project, also funded by SRESQ is somewhat of an anomaly. The three other projects funded in August responded to community-wide needs: health, seniors and literacy. The decision to fund ELAN was recognition of the important work of artists to give our communities a voice and an identity by telling our stories. Over the next three years, this new project will identify provincial sources of funding that are currently unknown or unavailable to English-speaking artists, and will help artists apply for this additional support, which could range from infrastructure and touring to training, translation and many other needs. As I said at the Annual General Meeting in August: This is the most important project ELAN has undertaken. We will keep you posted on progress.

 

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

Guy Rodgers with Board Members Bettina Forget and Kristelle Holliday presenting at ELAN’s 14th AGM.

Photo by: Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

It was a pleasure to see so many of you at ELAN’s 14th Annual General Meeting on August 27th. For those who could not attend, the full AGM package of activity reports, financial statements, budgets and bios is available here. I want to thank outgoing board members Khosro Berahmandi, Amy Blackmore, Farah Fancy, Warona Setshwaelo, Dan Webster, and two board members who served ELAN with dedication and enthusiasm for the maximum period of six years: Rob Lutes, and Vice-President Valerie Buddle. ELAN is an artist-driven network and our community is extremely well served by passionate, knowledgeable directors who contribute a wealth of knowledge. I look forward to working with the newly elected board members, as well as returning board members.

ELAN is now embarking on its 15th year and much has changed since 2004. Many of the historical obstacles faced by English-speaking artists in Quebec, important at the time of ELAN’s creation, have decreased as ideas about diversity and inclusion have gained prominence. But as we observed during last year’s consultations for Quebec’s new Cultural Policy, there is still a malaise in some quarters about fully recognizing the value of English-language artists and their contribution to Quebec’s cultural life. The creation of a new Secretariat for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers (SRESQ) last fall signaled that the government of Quebec is committed to identifying and eliminating barriers, real and received.

On August 13th, the SRESQ announced funding for four major long-term projects. The arts and culture project is called Un Nouvel Élan Pour les Artistes Anglophones du Québec (A New Momentum for Québec’s English-Speaking Artists). This three-year project will enable us to identify sources of funding within all culture-related provincial agencies (Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Société de development des enterprises culturelles) and Ministries (Culture and Communications, Education), as well as funding for infrastructure, employment and training, and economic development. Over the next three years, we will work to connect community needs with government resources, and provide community members assistance to write applications. In addition, we will seek to create a working group of artists and senior government officials to continually identify new needs and opportunities. This project has the potential to change the dynamic for Québec’s English-speaking artists in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago. We’ll keep you posted on progress.

 

Executive Director
Guy Rodgers

Guy Rodgers presenting a Minute Market

Photo by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

August brings us the second wave of Arts Alive! Québec with simultaneous weekends in Quebec City at the Morrin Centre (August 3 – 4), and in Knowlton (August 3 – 5). ELAN’s partners have programmed an engaging array of performances and hands-on artistic activities for all ages. Click here for full details.

ELAN’s 14th Annual General Meeting plus Schmoozer and Minute Market are coming up on August 27. The AGM is your chance to meet ELAN office staff and project managers, discuss what we have been working on, and get a glimpse of what is planned for the year ahead. It is also a chance to meet the current board of directors and vote in some new members. I hope to see many of you there.

I want to pay tribute here to an old friend, Harry Gulkin, who passed away July 23 at the age of 90. I first met Harry in 1986. He was the new Artistic Director of the Saidye Bronfman Centre, and had programmed an ambitious season of theatre, music, readings and visual arts. I had recently graduated from the National Theatre School’s Playwriting Program and convinced Harry to hire me as General Manager of the freshly renovated theatre. We embarked on a tumultuous season that incurred a significant deficit, and were both out of work when the Saidye Bronfman Centre’s chief benefactor put a stop to additional funding, bringing that particular adventure to a screeching halt.

Fortunately, we both landed on our feet. Harry was immediately hired by SODEC (Société de développement des entreprises culturelles), the provincial funding agency film and television, and by a happy coincidence, a film producer I was working with received funding from SODEC to develop my script. When ELAN was created, Harry joined our advisory board to share his vast knowledge and passion for the arts.

The NFB (National Film Board of Canada) documentary, Red Dawn on Main Street, and Bill Brownstein’s tribute in the Montreal Gazette provide some insights into a multi-faceted human being: merchant marine, union activist, retail marketing executive, artistic director, legendary film producer, and tireless champion of Canadian culture. Harry’s impact on Quebec’s cultural scene was immense, and his influence on those who had the privilege to know him was immeasurable.

Guy Rodgers
Executive Director
Guy Rodgers with Patrick Lloyd Brennan, Managing Director of Quebec Drama Federation

Photo by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

July is a month for the great outdoors, staycations, or whatever form of great escape is most therapeutic for you. It is also a splendid month for day trips and outdoor festivals. Arts Alive! Québec will be at Huntingdon in the Chateauguay valley on Saturday July 8, the Morrin Centre in Quebec City (August 3-4), and Knowlton in the Eastern Townships (August 3-5). These are all beautiful places to visit with wonderful activities and events lined up, so I hope to see you there!

Meanwhile, back in the office we have had some changes in staff. Naima Phillips, who joined ELAN last fall as our Membership Services Coordinator, has had to leave us. During her eight months with us, Naima made a strong contribution toward implementing new services and incorporating membership more deeply into ELAN’s processes, projects, and communications. We wish Naima all the best.

Emily Enhorning, who was working with Naima as membership assistant, has assumed the role of Interim Membership Services Coordinator. Emily will be assisted by Isabelle Shi (Membership Assistant) and Jennifer Broydell (Special Projects Assistant) over the summer months as we complete a major overhaul of ELAN’s on-line membership system. Krista Muir has also joined us for the summer as Arts Alive! Québec Communications Assistant. We are pleased to welcome such a skilled and enthusiastic group to our team.

We are also writing final reports on projects from last winter/spring, and preparing new projects for the fall, as well as ELAN’s 14th Annual General Meeting on August 27. We will have plenty of news next month. For now, let’s make the most of the fleeting pleasures of July.

 

Guy Rodgers
Executive Director
Director's Message June 2018
Guy Rodgers with visual artists based in West Island.
Photo by Kinga Michalska

Summer is upon us and ELAN’s first Arts Alive! Québec 2018 festival takes place in Hudson this weekend. Hudson is a beautiful town full of talented artists, and I highly recommend a cultural, gastronomical day-trip. The schedule of this weekend’s activities can be found here.

In the coming weeks we will unveil programming for Huntingdon (July 8), Knowlton (August 3-5), the Morrin Centre in Quebec City (August 3-4) and Wakefield (September 7-8). CBC is back as our media sponsor and we look forward to working with them. Each regional partner will feature unique programming that consist of fun-filled activities for all ages, which includes a mixture of main-stage shows, outdoor performances in shade-dappled parks, visual arts, and an entertaining range of hands-on workshops.

Another big event in June should be the launch of Quebec’s long awaited Cultural Policy, which has been in development for years under three different Ministers of Culture. Minister Marie Montpetit (Minister of Culture and Communications; Minister responsible for the Protection and Promotion of the French Language) is expected to announce the Action Plan this month. Given the major increase in cultural funding confirmed in April’s budget, the Action Plan should be good news. CALQ and SODEC are keen to discover the actual budgets they have been allocated. ELAN hopes that our interventions during the drafting process result in a clear recognition of the historical contribution of English-speaking artists to Quebec culture, and a strong on-going commitment to support our work.

The provincial election is not scheduled until the fall, but the campaign has already begun. ELAN has been working with the Quebec English-Language (film and TV) Production Council (QPEC), the Quebec Community Newspapers Association (QCNA), the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN) and the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) to develop a community Cultural Policy to be shared with all political parties.  We will continue working on it over the summer – between day-trips to Arts Alive! Quebec festivals. I hope to see you there!

 

Guy Rodgers
Executive Director