Guy Rodgers, Christie Huff, Paul Knowles and the AIG team at the ArtistsInspire Grants launch in Laval on May 23.

I am pleased to introduce ELAN’s new Administration Manager. Deborah Forde is already well known to many of you. Previously Executive Director of the Quebec Drama Federation, she brings ELAN a wealth of knowledge about grant writing, budgeting, financial management and HR. Deborah’s addition to the team will allow me to have more time to work on the exciting new project I shared with you last month. All of ELAN’s staff and board join with me in welcoming Deborah to the team.

I also want to congratulate Christie Huff on the extraordinary work she has done with ELAN to connect Arts and Education. Christie worked closely with me for many months to write the initial grant application that launched the ACE (Arts, Communities and Education) Initiative. This year, thanks to new funding from the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, twelve schools and communities around Quebec connected with artists to co-create learning experiences that participants told us were extraordinarily meaningful. On May 23, after celebrating an innovative ACE project with artists Jason Selman & Melanie Garcia at Laval Senior Academy, ELAN launched a new project funded by the Government of Canada, called Artists Inspire Grants (AIG).

The largest project ELAN has ever undertaken, AIG is designed to distribute $1,500 micro grants to hundreds of schools serving English-speaking communities in each of the next four years so that thousands of students can have inspirational experiences with artists. To coordinate ACE and AIG, ELAN has created an ArtEd Team, managed by Christie Huff, in collaboration with consultants Jennifer Cooke and Paula Knowles, and ELAN’s Program Manager Amy Macdonald. This work is challenging and exciting. You will be hearing much more about it in the years ahead.

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

Guy Rodgers with Rahul Varma (Teesri Duniya), Catherine Cahill (Playwrights Workshop Montréal), Hugh Mitchell (Quebec Drama Federation Board Member), Elsa Bolam (Geordie Theatre). 1989.

As many of you know, I had planned to leave ELAN this year because the 15th anniversary seemed like a propitious moment for a leadership transition. That plan was put on hold when the Secretariat for Relations with English Speaking Quebecers funded a new project that is dear to my heart. I first became an arts activist, straight out of the National Theatre School, back when it was seriously challenging to be an English-speaking artist in Quebec. There were many reasons for that, ranging from language barriers to a lingering myth that Anglos were wealthy and did not require public funding. Most of those conditions have changed, but surveys confirm that English-speaking artists still feel closer to Canada Council and the Conseil des arts de Montréal than to CALQ. SODEC is perceived to be less welcoming than Telefilm.

This project, which we have named Québec Relations, will devote the next two years to identifying all provincial sources of funding that could benefit cultural workers, from regular arts programs to support for employment, infrastructure, regional and economic development. In parallel to this, we will document community needs, and then help connect needs to support. I have hired Sophie Croteau (we will introduce Sophie in next month’s ELANews) as Research Coordinator, and have opened a new office for this project.

ELAN’s new neighbours on the 9th floor at 460 Ste Catherine are QDF and Teesri Duniya Theatre. My first major venture in arts activism was the creation of the Quebec Drama Federation, where I was the founding executive director. Rahal Varma had recently created Teesri, which became a QDF member, and Rahul became a friend. Each time I walk past their offices, I feel a sense of completing a full circle. I am energized to spend my final couple of years with ELAN working on a project that brings decades of arts advocacy to a logical conclusion, and will significantly improve access to funding for Quebec’s English-speaking artists.

 

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

Guy Rodgers, Kristelle Holliday, and Ziv Przytyk of ShazamFest at “Made en Estrie”, Sherbrooke QC.

April is the beginning of the new financial year. Projects from the previous year are wrapped, but their impact continues to resonate. State of the Arts was the largest community dialogue that ELAN has engaged in since 2011. Part of the value of bringing people together to share ideas and information, plans and dreams, is simply to make connections, like a multitude of new synapses forming between neurons. The creative power of the brain resides in its remarkable plasticity. The same is true of a healthy community.  Some of the connections made during State of the Arts will evolve into collaborations between artists and cultural workers, and ideas that emerged during the past months will influence ELAN’s projects for many years to come. We will be sharing the final SotA report with you in the coming months; for now, you can visit the project page for more information.

April is also a time to launch new projects. ARTS2U has completed two research phases and is now entering a developmental phase, thanks to funding from Canada Council’s Digital Strategy Fund. The research has been highly technical but the idea is simple enough. How can artists and cultural producers make use of the digital universe to better connect with audiences, and to retain control of their own data? ELAN is also preparing to launch a major project made possible by the federal Action Plan for Official Languages. The goal of the Artists Inspire Grants is to send artists into every English-language public school in Quebec over the next four years. It is large and ambitious, but we have a splendid team working with us. You will be hearing much more about the Artists Inspire Grants in the coming months.

I was in Ottawa on March 11 when Melanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie, launched a public consultation to modernise the Official Languages Act, which turns 50 this year. Much has changed in Canada and Quebec since 1969 so the Act needs to be updated, but it remains of great importance to minority language communities. ELAN will be actively involved in the dialogue to modernize the Official Languages Act, which strengthens Quebec’s English-speaking community, and its artists, in many ways.

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

Guy Rodgers presenting at the 2019 State of the Arts Activation Conference 

Photo by Sufia Duez 

ELAN is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2019.  The world around you will have changed little or much during that period depending on your age and personal milestones. One benchmark that most of us share is Facebook, which also came into existence in 2004.  It is surprisingly difficult to remember the “pre-FB” world, back when we were still using message boards and fax machines. I am not going to claim that ELAN’s impact is comparable to Facebook – for better or worse – but our local environment has changed dramatically in several ways.

ELAN was created as a network for English-speaking artists whose main issue was language. One pragmatic ELAN objective was to build bridges with our French-speaking neighbours. A more daunting but less tangible problem was a country neatly divided into English Canada and French Quebec. ELAN devoted its first decade to documenting an English-language cultural renaissance in Quebec, to making English-speaking artists visible outside Quebec, as well as making the case that we could be both proud Quebeckers here at home and important ambassadors for Quebec culture.

Many of ELAN’s younger members see language as a minor issue or a non-issue, which is a testimonial to how far we have progressed. Part of this change was possible because our world is becoming much more receptive to diversity and inclusion. As ELAN becomes less preoccupied with language issues, we have turned our attention to broader issues of diversity and inclusion, which have been the focus of our State of the Arts project. Many of you have already participated in State of the Arts activities, and are welcome to participate in additional upcoming events in March. More information about those events will be shared in our future newsletters, our website, and through our social media channels. As we celebrate ELAN’s accomplishments over the past 15 years, we are also charting a new course for the decades that lie ahead.

 

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

Guy Rodgers with John Hobday (Independent Arts Consultant who has worked for Canada Council for the Arts, the Samuel & Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation, CBC, and more) at State of the Arts in 2011. 

Photo by Dimitri Nasrallah

Fifteen years ago, the Quebec Arts Summit brought together 150 artists and cultural workers to take stock of an English-language cultural renaissance that had become noticeable after the referendum of 1995. The rapidly growing number of English-artists choosing to live and work in Quebec was a revelation, and the inspiration for ELAN’s creation. Seven years later, in 2011, ELAN organized State of the Arts, a three-day gathering of artists and cultural workers from all disciplines and from many regions of Quebec. Principle activities took place at la Société des arts technologiques (SAT), where 100+ community leaders discussed challenges and opportunities, debated strategies and brainstormed innovative ideas. Satellite activities took place at Centaur Theatre, the launch of the book Minority Report: An Alternative History of English-Language Arts in Quebec, and a series of thought-provoking panel discussions at la Maison du Conseil des arts de Montréal.

In February and March, ELAN is hosting a new edition of State of the Arts. The emphasis is on diversity and inclusion. At our 2011 event, our priorities were to connect with younger artists, newly emerging disciplines, and artistic communities outside Montreal. In 2019, project manger Farah Fancy has expanded the consultation format to include small group discussions and personal consultations around Quebec to engage a more diverse group of people in the conversation. With the assistance of Emily Enhorning, ELAN’s Membership Coordinator, Farah has also prepared two short surveys that we encourage you to take. One of the surveys is for individual artists living in Quebec and the other is for arts and cultural organizations. Each survey will only take a few minutes to complete.

The English-speaking arts community in 2019 is distinctly different than it was 15 years ago.  ELAN was founded by artists whose references were rooted in 20th century issues of official languages and historical tensions between the two solitudes. That has been a significant part of our mandate and we have made significant progress. The 21st century has brought new challenges and opportunities. This edition of State of the Arts signals a turning point for ELAN, in part a generational transition, and in part a valuable updating of ELAN’s mandate and mission for current and future members. We hope you’ll be part of it.

Guy Rodgers
Executive Director

Guy Rodgers with Aaron Salomon, Andrew Tay, and Caroline Lussier at ELAN’s 2014 AGM!

Photo by: Sandra Belanger

The beginning of a new year is a natural time to reflect on the past and imagine possible futures. ELAN had its busiest year ever in 2018. Arts Alive! Québec, managed by Anne Clark, co-produced multidisciplinary festivals in Hudson, Knowlton, Huntingdon, Wakefield and Quebec City, as well as a series of music and words events in libraries. Christie Huff and her ACE Initiative team launched a new series of Arts, Communities and Education projects to take artists into schools all around Quebec. June Park produced more than two dozen workshops in Montreal and the regions to enhance the skills of performing artists who aim to develop their professional careers, while Emilia Alvarez and Mariam Assaf arranged showcases in Canada, the USA, and the UK.

ELAN’s increased activity necessitated the creation of a fifth full-time staff position. Jackie Stamp Smeaton joined us in December as our brand new Administration and Human Resources Manager. Jackie brings a wealth of Admin and HR experience to ELAN, as well as an artist’s sensibility. We also hired Lital Khaikin as Membership and Communications Assistant under a six-month Emploi Québec contract. Lital will work with Sufia Duez and Emily Enhorning to improve ELAN’s Communications and Membership services.

The immediate project on the horizon for 2019 is State of the Arts, managed by Farah Fancy, with staff management by Amy Macdonald. ELAN was founded after a multi-disciplinary gathering of artists in 2004. In 2011, we met with the community again, which led to the development of many of the projects ELAN has worked on since. State of the Arts 2019 is designed to engage with artists and organizations we have collaborated with in the past, and to make new connections with artists and organizations who wish to collaborate with ELAN in the future.

In 2019, ELAN will celebrate its 15th birthday. A few of you have been with ELAN from the beginning. It has been quite a journey and there is much to celebrate. We look forward to sharing memories with you, and exploring new possibilities.

 

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

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