ELAN’s 5th AGM.

What do official language minority-language artists need in Quebec?

In ELAN’s foundational years, this essential question guided our efforts to better understand and serve our members (and potential members), and shape our programming in years to come. Prior to ELAN’s surveys and community outreach, there was little cohesive data available that portrayed the English-speaking artists of Quebec. As we approached ELAN’s 5th anniversary in 2009, the year marked a significant milestone as we continued to define ELAN’s role in arts and culture advocacy in the province.

ELAN launched the second phase of our Minority Anglophone Artists Project II (MAAP II), which focused on music and dance communities. The responses to our surveys revealed that some of the most urgent needs of English-speaking artists included translation and accessibility of funding resources, and the availability of infrastructure for artists to work in their cities. Many of these issues continue to be at the forefront for English-speaking artists today.

We found that, in particular, there were many challenges faced by English-speaking artists in navigating grant applications, signing contracts, and conducting business activities where information was available exclusively in French. Artists emphasized the need to access grants specifically for emerging artists. One of the most common themes was promoting integration with French-speaking Quebec by connecting members with language classes and translation services, and helping establish a greater sense of community between English and French-speakers. Artists also expressed the need for studio spaces—which were found to be lacking, unaffordable or inaccessible—and felt that more networking opportunities would bring artistic communities closer together.

“People are asked to perform for “exposure”, or “a drink”, or “pass the hat” – fine for beginners, but not for professional performers. People working in other areas of music – recording studios education, film/TV composition, etc. – are being asked to “intern” for no pay, work for “screen credit”, or, in the rare case when a job is presented, having to deal with unlivable pay and Labour Standards violations.”

— MAAP II

ELAN can serve the Anglophone musical community by helping artists be aware of grants that are available to them and by providing a network of other like-minded artists to collaborate with. It could also provide ways of helping musicians promote themselves effectively to English and French audiences.”

— MAAP II


MAAP II project team: Sarah Wendt, Louise Campbell (who became ELAN’s vice-president in 2018), Simon Wayland, and Jon Lindhorst. 

Cultural Advocacy in Quebec

As ELAN’s credibility as a thought leader grew, we began to make interventions to the CRTC, using the expertise of board member Kirwan Cox. No organizations had intervened on behalf of Quebec’s English-speaking community since the mid 90s and the result had been cuts in regional production and the absence of Anglo-Québécois stories on television. ELAN intervened in the licence renewal for CBC, the national broadcaster. One key issue raised by ELAN was the role of public broadcasting in supporting independent producers in the province. ELAN presented a brief to the CRTC that advocated for publicly owned television, funding for local broadcasting, and identified the impacts of Canadian advertising lobbying on the quality of CBC production.

“The private broadcasters use the money saved underpaying for domestic programming by overpaying for American programming at auction in Los Angeles- thus driving up the cost of these programs to a record $688 million last year. In the end, English-Canadian commercial broadcasters pay more for foreign programming then they pay for domestic programming- unlike any other broadcasters in the developed world.

With the abdication of cultural programming on CBC TV, CBC radio is our lifeline. It does more than any other broadcaster, but erosion of funding has cut its quality. CBC radio needs more public funding, not advertising as the Association of Canadian Advertisers has requested.”

— from Brief on CBC’s Mandate Review to the CRTC

Building Community

Alliance Quebec was founded two years after the First Referendum in 1980 to lobby on behalf of Quebec’s English-speaking community, which suffered an exodus of 300,000 people during the turbulent 70s and 80s. Alliance Quebec had begun to fragment by the mid 90s and former regional chapters, which had become independent Regional Associations, created the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) in 1995, the year of the Second Referendum. QCGN, with members such as the Townshippers Association and the Voice of English Quebec, and its offices in Quebec City, was disconnected from the majority of English-speakers living in and around Montreal.

After Alliance Quebec’s final vestige of funding was cut in 2005, QCGN decided to move its offices to Montreal in 2007 to better connect with Montreal’s large English-speaking population. To assist this work, the Department of Canadian Heritage funded the Greater Montreal Community Development Initiative (GMCDI), which QCGN ran for several years. ELAN, an active board member and key sectoral organization, chaired the Arts and Culture table, which brought together the Quebec Drama Federation (QDF) and the Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF), as well as with bilingual groups like the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival and the Montreal Fringe Festival. ELAN’s work with QCGN also had the effect of demonstrating to community leaders and funders the power of arts and culture to stimulate community vitality and build bridges.

Mortally serious performance by Women with Kitchen Appliances at Art Storm⁠—a ‘tasty teaser of music, contemporary dance, video art, spoken word, theatre and visual arts plus a mystery dance band’ at La Sala Rossa. 

On Monday, August 26, ELAN (English Language Arts Network) will be celebrating 15 years of serving the English-speaking arts community of Québec!

“ELAN is an organization for artists, by artists, and as a result, our projects and advocacy work address the real needs of our community.”

ELAN Board Director Bettina Forget.

During the past 15 years, ELAN has offered hundreds of professional development workshops in Montréal and many regions of Québec, and has produced showcases for artists in Montréal, across Canada, in the US, and in the UK. ELAN’s advocacy work with CRTC, in collaboration with the Québec English-language Production Council, has contributed to bringing millions of dollars in new production to Québec. ELAN has established itself as the leading advocate and interlocutor for English-language artists in Québec.

“ELAN has steadily attracted members, partners and resources that make it possible to do things we could only dream about fifteen years ago.”

ELAN founding Executive Director Guy Rodgers.

 

View full press release:

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Board strategic planning meeting.

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.

 

Schmoozer in Old Port: Elizabeth Woodyard (staff), Vince, Derek Yaple-Schobert, Sandra Belanger (staff).

Schmoozer in Bily Kun (Plateau): Sandra Belanger (staff), Anne, Erin, Valerie Buddle (who would become ELAN VP (2015-18), Stephanie.

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.

New office on the Lachine canal. Staff: Aimee Velle, Elizabeth Woodyard.

Office view of the Lachine Canal.

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.

Launch of the Arts Services Kit.

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.

 

In 2006, ELAN’s second year in existence was one of significant growth and strategic partnerships. Our emerging place on the web began with the creation of our first website with funding from Canadian Content Online. This way, we were able to create space to spotlight our community of members by adding the Artist’s Showcase and the Events Calendar. The Artists’ Showcase has now evolved into our Member Directory, and the ELAN Events Calendar has grown to include our new Community Calendar, which showcases member-submitted events!

We also published the first issue of ELANews, which today has roughly 2500 subscribers. The first edition was published by our then part-time staff member Nadia Myre. Nadia has since gone on to become an award winning visual artist and in 2019 was appointed a companion in l’Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec (joining ELAN’s Executive Director Guy Rodgers, who was appointed in 2015).

(Left to right: MAAP II team:  Louise Campbell (who became ELAN’s vice-president 12 years later), Simon Wayland, Jonathan Lindhorst  and Sarah Wendt)

ELAN’s MAAP (Minority Anglophone Artists Projects) I & II

During its first year, ELAN worked in close partnership with our sister organizations, the Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF), the Association of English-Language Publishers of Quebec (AELAQ), and the Quebec Drama Federation (QWF). These close partnerships allowed us to quickly understand the landscape for English-speaking artists in literature and theatre, but we had no formal connections to other artistic disciplines.

ELAN’s first projects were focused on research to find out: how many English-speaking artists were living and working in Quebec, what they knew about resources available to them, and what additional support they desired. MAAP 1 (2006) examined Visual Arts, and MAAP II (2007) examined Music and Dance.

(ELAN members in working groups at AGM held at Kola Noté)

Le Regroupement des artistes en arts visual du Quebec (RAAV) was the official representative of visual artists in Quebec (in parallel to CARFAC across Canada). Many English-speaking artists did not know of the existence of the RAAV prior to MAAP, and very few were members.  RAAV was interested in knowing how it could attract and serve English-speaking artists.

RAAV served visual artists’ essential needs for equity, labour rights, and representation in Quebec, and give a voice to the unique needs of English-speaking visual artists in our province.   Working with RAAV was ELAN’s first significant collaboration with French-speaking service organizations.

Through this project, RAAV became a close partner of ELAN, electing an English-speaking visual artist to their board and planning its first ever bilingual workshops. We also helped them translate parts of their website, making the significant work of RAAV that more accessible to English-speaking visual artists. It is a common (mis)perception that language is irrelevant to visual artists. Contracts must be negotiated, grants must be written, information must be obtained and understood. All of these business activities require language skills and can be a challenge for English-speaking artists living and working in Quebec.

   

(ELAN members at AGM held at Kola Noté)

Some of you might remember the phone-calls we made during our annual membership drive this past winter, during which we asked you about your feedback and needs on ELAN membership. Back in 2005, we contacted over 600 English-speaking visual artists in Quebec to poll them on current activities, goals, aspirations, and obstacles. Of these, 140 detailed surveys provided data that would help us develop a better understanding of artists’ needs in the province, and shape a clear path of actions that would help our community reach its needs.


What were some of the responses to our MAAP surveys?

Some of the needs raised by artists we surveyed still resonate today. Here’s a snapshot of our MAAP Visual Arts survey:

Translation: access to translation services to make the work of English-speaking artists available to French-speaking audiences; employment and availability of English translators and revisors within French-speaking artist-run centres and institutions.

Resources: lack of affordable housing forces artists to live in their studios; artists are caught in the mandate to make a profit and can’t claim expenses otherwise; lack of equipment sharing.

Language: ability to network, participate in events, and communicate in French.


(Left: Staff members Guy Rodgers and Monica Majewski. Right: Staff member Sandra Belanger)

This was a highly successful project for us in ELAN’s early years. Our outreach sensitized the English-language visual arts communities of Quebec to ELAN’s recent formation and purpose. We also saw a rapid increase in our membership from 80 at the start of the MAAP project, to 150 by the end.

Today, ELAN’s community consists of over 350 members with 127 identifying as visual artists, some of whom you might find featured in our recently initiated Artists Illuminated blog! Building on the work we started in 2005, we would continue to work with the English-speaking visual arts community of Quebec through our Visual Arts Market Access project. The action plan we developed through this project enabled us to also apply these outcomes to the dance and music sectors. In the years to come, ELAN would see this cross-pollination come to fruition when we launched the Performing Arts Market Access project

This year, we’re celebrating ELAN’s 15th Anniversary, which we’re marking at our Annual General Meeting on August 26, 2019! In this series, we’ll be sharing a bit of our history, and featuring some of our long-standing collaborators, team members, partners, and community members who have helped shape ELAN into who we are today.


Writers’ focus group.

In 2000, the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH) advised the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) that they were negotiating a matching grant agreement with Canada Council to increase support for minority language communities. PCH asked QCGN if English-speaking artists would be interested in negotiating a similar agreement.

In May 2001, several dozen representatives of the English-speaking artistic community were invited to a meeting at the McCord Museum. The problem for English-speakers in Quebec is not language retention but population retention. During the preceding three decades, hundreds of thousands of English-speakers chose to move away from Quebec in a steady exodus that left the community enfeebled, fragmented and vulnerable. The challenge in Quebec was to build a sustainable community so that artists and cultural workers could stay in Quebec rather than leave. A consensus was reached that, in some areas at least, English-speaking artists are a minority in need of assistance.

Visual Arts focus group.

TV and film focus group.

Quebec Arts Summit trio.

Funders from Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

In October 2001, a draft agreement (Memorandum of Understanding) for an initial three years of support was signed by PCH and Canada Council. The resulting IPOLC program distributed a considerable amount of extra money to English-speaking artists via regular Canada Council programs. Six volunteers were appointed to a committee to negotiate with Canadian Heritage and Canada Council. During their regular meetings, the idea of an English-Language Arts Network began to emerge.

Between November 25-27, 2004, Quebec Arts Summit launched a process of creating a multi-disciplinary network for Quebec’s English-speaking artists. QAS assembled more than 200 artists, government officials and community partners. It was the first time that representatives of the entire English-speaking arts community had been brought together. They concluded that the creation of an English-Language Arts Network could help create conditions to empower English-speaking artists to live and work in Quebec.

ELAN incorporated in April 2005, received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Canadian Heritage, and created a small website. Our offices were located in the Atwater Library with the Quebec Writers’ Federation.

 

Photos by Patrick Saad.

ELAN is marking its 15th Anniversary this year, and what better way to do it than by celebrating the work of our members! We’re looking for Performing Artists to take the spotlight during our 15th Anniversary celebrations!

We welcome short performances in Dance, Theatre, Music, Spoken Word/Poetry, and Video Art, with the following criteria:

  • The set up and strike should take no more than 1 minute;
  • The piece should be no more than 5 minutes;
  • A maximum of 5 performers for ensemble pieces;
  • An artist fee will be offered based on the number of participants to be confirmed.

Performances will be held between 8 PM – 10 PM, on the evening of our Annual General Meeting on AUGUST 26, 2019. Performers/groups will have the opportunity for a 30 minute rehearsal each at the Rialto Theatre in the afternoon.

We encourage a diversity of applicants, from various disciplines and regions in Quebec. Travel bursaries will be offered for those outside of Montreal.

We are accepting digital applications only, of the following materials:

  • Documentation of the proposed work: If you’ve performed the work before, please include video or photos of this particular work. If it’s a new work, include some photos (roughly 5-7) or video of previous performances to give the selection committee a better sense of your work.
  • Text description: A brief description of the performance you are proposing. If there is dialogue involved, please submit a script.
  • Brief bio: A brief bio of performer or collective.

Video submissions can be a hyperlink (for example: YouTube or Vimeo), a zipped folder, or a file (if you are sharing it from a cloud service like Dropbox, for example, please leave it up until we’ve confirmed that it’s downloaded).

Please email your submissions to: communications@quebec-elan.org.
Emails MUST include the following subject: “ELAN 15 Video Submission – Your Name”.

Submission deadline is JUNE 30, 2019.
We will be responding to applicants mid-July.

This year, ELAN is marking its 15th anniversary, and what better way to do it than by celebrating the work of our members! We are printing a collectors’ edition booklet on ELAN’s history, and we want to feature a few pages of our members’ work!

For this booklet, we welcome submissions from LITERATURE and VISUAL ARTS:

Please email us the following:

– 3-5 images, 1-2 poems, or a short (half-page) text.

– an anecdote about your time as an ELAN member

Email your submissions to: communications@quebec-elan.org.

Emails MUST include the following subject: “ELAN 15 Submission – Your Name”.

Submission deadline is MAY 31, 2019.

This booklet will be launched at our Annual General Meeting on AUGUST 26, 2019. Selected contributors will be paid: stay tuned for more announcements in the coming weeks!

PERFORMING ARTISTS: keep an eye out for an upcoming news on how you can apply to be featured at our AGM!