Image courtesy of Studio 303.

What is burn-out?

We are beginning Creative Resilience, our new mini-series on arts and health, with an open discussion on burn-out. Burn-out, a word increasingly familiar in creative industries, is not just synonymous with exhaustion, but describes the specific mix of exhaustion, cynicism, and professional inefficacy that is usually a product of overwork.

Burn-out is common in industries where “the work is the passion”. Artists are often paid little and work precariously, and demand is often high while the resources to meet it are scarce. In arts organizations, funding is almost always tenuous and dependent on political whim, making it difficult to support the individual artists navigating these conditions, while reproducing the conditions for burn-out within the organizations themselves.

Solutions to burn-out often place the onus on the individual: recognize the signs of burnout and work to mitigate it, take time away from work. But what does “time away” look like when the work is the passion? And when the work is the passion, what are the effects on identity from both the cynicism and inefficacy of burn-out, as well as the act of taking time away to mitigate it? And how do we find permission to take time away when wages are already low and work is already precarious? Beyond the individual, we are curious about the communal, structural changes necessary to mitigate burn-out. If burn-out is the product of overwork, then how must we renegotiate our understandings of work itself?

What is a Performative Discussion? 

To explore these questions, we will join Studio 303 in holding a “Performative Discussion”. This format is borrowed from Lois Weaver’s Long Table, and is created by the placement of a long table (anyone seated at it may speak) surrounded by unlimited chairs for observers (anyone may move from speaker to audience member when and as they wish). Beyond a few opening prompts, this format requires little facilitation and allows the conversation to move naturally. Through it, we hope to bring together and make sense of communal experiences of burn-out, precarity, and the arts.


Creative Resilience

Creative Resilience is a mini-series that responds to years of formally and informally discussing the unique ways that artists experience health and healthcare. Combining community conversations about structural barriers to artists’ health with tangible tools and workshops, we are beginning the series with an open, participatory discussion of burn-out in collaboration with Studio 303. To RSVP to “Performative Discussion: burn-out”, please email admin@quebec-elan.org.

 

 

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. 

ELAN staff Camille Horrocks-Denis sat down with Kim-Sanh Châu and Miriam Ginestier, co-directors of Studio 303. Miriam Ginestier has been involved with Studio 303 since 1990 whereas Kim-Sanh Châu joined the team in 2013, and became co-director in 2018. Ginestier is a former dancer and queer event organiser. Châu is in the process of completing her Master’s degree in Dance at UQAM. She also works as an independent choreographer and videographer. 

Photo by Camille Horrocks-Denis.

Studio 303 was established in 1989. Could you tell me about what sparked its beginnings, and how the organization evolved in the following years?

MG: Studio 303 was established by three choreographers who wanted a cooperative space in which to train, teach, rehearse and share their work. Two of the choreographers left within the first year, and the third stayed on for five years. I hopped onboard in 1990, working in exchange for classes. The studio grew mostly staffed by self-taught artists. The early days were very intuitive and organic, allowing for a lot of organisational flexibility, with much of the programming done on a first come-first served basis. Once there was a critical mass of artists wanting to teach or perform at Studio 303, we started professionalizing and applying for grants, which required a more curatorial approach and more conscious artistic choices. The focus then was mainly on presenting work. We had the Vernissage-Danse series that lasted twenty years, the Edgy Women festival for twenty-three years, and Noises in the Dark for ten years. Studio 303 has remained constant with its three branches of supporting teaching practice, creative practice, and sharing with the public, though each vein has had its own trajectory.

Grants are a vital part of a non-profit organization’s ability to sustain themselves. How has federal and provincial funding affected the type of work that Studio 303 does?

MG: Funding has a huge impact on programming decisions. The shift from first-come first served to curating work came as a request from funders. The creation of an Inter-arts section at the Canada Council had an important and positive impact on Studio 303’s interdisciplinary programming and on the blossoming of Edgy Women into a festival. Support from Emploi-Québec has allowed us to create an internationally-renowned workshop series.  Losing our Canadian Heritage funding in 2013 for apparently political reasons, created a significant strain on our organization. We had to downsize significantly to survive.

How has Studio 303’s focus changed since the loss of the Canadian Heritage funding?

KSC: It has affected how many shows we present, and what kind of events we do. We used to present work every month, but now we do about six events a year. After that cut, we felt more freedom, as well as a need to express ourselves politically, and so we created Cabaret Tollé, a political performance event that criticized the Harper government. This was a major milestone for us and led to Studio 303 being associated with a stronger political identity.

MG: When you are funded for presenting work, there is a lot more focus on promotion, ticket sales, advertising, and it is difficult for small venues to compete. After losing the Heritage funding, we redirected our energy to the services we offer. We created new types of events, such as our collaboration with the MAI and Theatre La Chapelle for Queer Performance Camp – a safe space to create, explore, perform and network for queer artists. Our focus is more on workshops, residencies, Grant Labs, networking opportunities, creating meaningful relationships with international partners. We still present work, but within process-oriented conceptual events such as REMIX and Metamorphose, which exist to ask questions and reveal the creative process, rather than entertain audiences. We are artist-centred, more than ever.

What kind of services and opportunities does Studio 303 offer that helps to meet the needs of choreographers in Montreal?

MG: Studio 303 is dedicated to creating an inclusive home base for experimental performing artists. Our services are needs-based and inventive. These include one-on-one grant consultations (Grant Labs), really diverse workshops, which are a great place for choreographers to network, share interests, and spark new collaborations or projects.

KSC: We host residencies in our Studio as well as in partner organisations in France, Vermont, and recently Rouyn Noranda. We are one of the only organizations that offer a residency for emerging curators, which is a good entry point for artists interested in that field. We always aim to find gaps in services and resources for the Montreal dance community, and we aim to meet those needs in any way we can.

Photo by Emily Gan.

Could you share more about the different networking events that Studio 303 hosts?

MG: Every three years or so, we host an event called SPARK, a five-day multi-venue event for a dozen international professionals with whom Studio 303 and its artists feel affinity. It is an opportunity for international presenters to engage with the practices of local artists, and has led to touring and residency opportunities for many of the artists involved. A lighter offshoot called SPARK Series happens annually in late May during the FTA/OFFTA period to take advantage of the presence of presenters already in the city.

KSC: There is also À Table, a networking event that offers artists the opportunity to sit down with presenters at individual tables for several hours. Artists can initiate, join or eavesdrop on conversations as they wish; this format aims to subvert usual power dynamics that can be prevalent in regular networking events.

MG: Another useful resource in terms of networking, specifically for emerging artists and/or newcomers, is Taking the Leap. It’s an online guide on our website that breaks down the different steps for producing and presenting a show, with a section about the Montreal dance milieu, and includes a curated directory of resources available in the city. It is a useful guide to help artists find community and opportunities, and although dance-centric, it can be very useful to many independent artists working in performance. An updated version will be launched September 19th at Studio 303 alongside some cocktails!

Are there any specific challenges for English-speaking dancers in the Montreal dance community?

MG: Although dance is not a language-based art form, many of our local dance institutions are not completely bilingual, and can feel less accessible to English-speaking and allophone artists. There are also cultural differences, and I’m going to make a big generalization: anglophone and francophone dance artists seem to operate in different aesthetic universes, and this adds to the challenge of finding your place in the local environment; perhaps even more so for allophone artists. The wonderful thing about Montreal though is that when compared to other cities, our institutions and the dance community in general is really collaborative, welcoming and nurturing. And well-funded! Which makes this city a good place to start your career. Montreal has more dance presenters than any other Canadian city; more (and better funded) residency opportunities, more workshops (often subsidized), and more exchanges with European institutions and artists. Dance is very strong in Montreal.

This year marks your 30th anniversary; what kind of events will you be hosting to celebrate?

KSC: Instead of having a big party, we chose to spread some sparkle throughout the year by using the theme of Saturn Return. It is an astrological period of significant growth, with connotations of generational cycles, and looking backwards in order to learn and find inspiration for the future. We are also very excited about an upcoming show that we will be presenting on November 2nd called Impossible REMIX. The premise is essentially for a collective to remix an existing piece that is impossible to remount. Another exciting project is the Curator-in-residence project, which will use Studio 303 archives to produce work.

Do you have any goals and projects in mind for the coming years?

KSC: I work a lot in Asia, and we are working on establishing future collaborations there, but nothing is set in stone yet.

MG: We would like to work towards taking a stronger stand on certain political, environmental, and decolonization issues. Even though this type of advocacy requires a lot of energy, knowledge and resources, it is important to us make strides in those aspects. Another goal is to offer better salaries and hire at least one more staff member. And we’ve recently started offering childcare at our shows!

KSC: The funding cycle usually works in four-year chunks, and right now we’re right at the beginning of that cycle and have many ideas, but they are in early development, so we can’t talk much about them for the moment.

Do you have any pointers for English-speaking choreographers in Quebec?

MG: Come to Studio 303! We offer one-on-one grant advice and many workshops in English.

KSC: It is also good to become a member of the RQD (Regroupement québécois de la danse) as they have great resources like a community calendar, a directory for events being hosted across the province, as well as calls for submissions and job opportunities. Artère is also a great resource with similar job postings and calls for submissions. Always keep applying for things, attend workshops, and performance events. Make yourself known!

 

Photo from State of the Arts “TEXTURES” by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin.

ELAN’s ArtistsInspire Grants project is in full delivery mode this month, after months of promoting the new opportunity to schools, registering experienced artists, developing the website, and creating an entire administrative process in collaboration with LEARN. ArtistsInspire Grants is the largest project ELAN has ever undertaken, designed to send artists into every one of Quebec’s 300 English-speaking public for each of the next four years.

Project manager, Christie Huff, designed and developed ELAN’s ACE (Arts, Communities and Education) project, and for the past four years has been recruiting qualified artists and networking with educators.  ELAN now has an ArtEd department to coordinate ACE projects and ArtsInspire Grants. It is too early to estimate how these projects will effect artists, educators and students, but our entire team is stimulated by the impact that is already being witnessed.

Many ELAN members, past and present, have contacted us to offer congratulations on ELAN’s 15th anniversary, and to thank us for support that ELAN has provided over the years. Some of the benefits have been direct, personal and tangible but much of the work that ELAN does, particularly in the realm of advocacy and community development, is hard to measure and easy to overlook. It is only over a span of years that change becomes apparent. A 15th anniversary is a splendid opportunity to take stock.

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

In 2016, ELAN developed a project to explore how the organization could support its network of Artists in connecting with schools across the province.  Funding from the Government of Canada enabled ELAN to design, test, and scale strategies to connect Arts, Communities and Education (ACE). When the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers was created in 2018, the ACE Initiative was one of the first projects they selected for funding.

ACE 2.0, as we call it, is beginning the 2019-20 Connect phase –in October our ACE Facilitator, Paula Knowles will meet with 10 schools across the province. Each school will develop a vision for a project that students and teachers develop with artists and community members to meet education goals while contributing to personal and community vitality. ACE is now one of two programs the ArtEd team is supporting.

The ArtistsInspire Grants program, funded by the Government of Canada through the Action Plan for Official Languages, launched on May 23rd at the Laval Senior Academy. These $1500 micro grants provide every English public elementary and secondary school in the province with an opportunity to have students and teachers engage in creative artistic and cultural experiences during the school day. The first ArtistsInspire Grant experience took place at Sunnyside Elementary with artist cj fleury.  Our education partner, LEARN, has been a collaborator in our ArtEd work from day one, and without their networks and support our programs would not have succeeded.

As we began the new school year, ELAN’s ArtEd Initiatives worked on connecting with artists through a series of orientation sessions. ELAN’s ArtEd Team, led by Christie Huff, is focused on making a difference for every artist, community and school we have the privilege of connecting with. Artists who participated in our orientation sessions (60+) expressed gratitude for the work being done to enable them to achieve their potential as facilitators. As we reintroduce our ACE projects and launch into the first year of the ArtistsInspire Grants this fall, our team also organized a community organization outreach and information session that took place on September 10th.

Photo from artist orientation session in September 2019.

In October, Artists will have free professional development opportunities that have been designed to respond to needs they expressed. The ELAN ArtEd training program includes a QEP (Quebec Education Program) 101 for artists, a session on including students with special needs, a 2-day Mental Health First Aid program thanks to the support of the Community Health and Social Services network (CHSSN) and how to plan for multiple years of funding for ACE goals. Over the next 6-12 months, we will be designing professional development pathways for emergent artists to develop their knowledge and skills.

If you are an artist who is interested in our programs, please contact us through artistsinspiregrants@quebec-elan.org. We want to connect with every artist who identifies as a member of the English-speaking communities of Quebec and has experience working in school settings.  

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:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Image from IETF Hackathon, by Dan Webster.

Working to improve the discovery and circulation of arts events on the internet, ARTS2U took part in the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) Hackathon 105, held in Montreal on July 20-21. IETF Hackathons encourage developers to collaborate and develop utilities, ideas, sample code and solutions that show practical implementations of IETF standards.

Click here to learn more about the IETF Hackathons!

ARTS2U Project Manager Dan Webster presenting at IETF Hackathon.

Image from ELAN’s 2016 AGM: Front row, centre: Bettina Forget; second from left: Kristelle Holliday. Back row, second from left: Amy Macdonald; fourth from right: Fortner Anderson.

This month ELAN is saying farewell to Amy Macdonald, who has worked with ELAN for six years. Arriving shortly after a near-death financial crisis in the summer of 2013 had reduced ELAN to a single part-time employee, Amy helped me rebuild the organization on a solid foundation, taking charge of all membership and communication duties. During the past couple of years, as ELAN has multiplied the number of projects we manage and added new full-time employees, she has been instrumental in helping ELAN navigate challenges with team-building, communication, and creating synergy between in-house staff and external project teams. As Amy sets off to pursue her burgeoning career as a musician, she leaves ELAN in immeasurably better shape than she found it. On behalf of ELAN’s staff, board and members I want to thank Amy for her contributions to ELAN, and wish her well in the exciting new adventures that lie ahead.

This month we are also bidding adieu to three dedicated board members who have reached the end of the six-year terms prescribed by ELAN’s by-laws. Bettina Forget has been an ELAN member from the beginning, and president since 2015.  No organization could hope for a better ambassador and leader. Bettina was always available for ELAN despite pursuing her own busy career as an artist, running a gallery, and studying for a Master’s Degree followed by a PhD.  Kristelle Holliday has been treasurer for three years. As administrator for le Théâtre des Petites Lanternes in Sherbrooke, Kristelle spearheaded a series of Made en Estrie schmoozers that increased connections between English- and French-speaking artists in the Townships and le Conseil de la culture de l’Estrie. Kristelle is also the only treasurer I have known who can make the AGM financial report as entertaining as a stand-up routine. Fortner Anderson, a well-known spoken word artist, has collaborated closely on ELAN’s CRTC interventions for many years, and he also represented ELAN on the board of Culture Montréal and the Consultative Programming committee of MAtv.

I invite you all to attend ELAN’s 15th anniversary AGM on August 26 to say goodbye and thank you to the outgoing board members, and to elect their successors. It will also be an occasion to wish Amy well in her future adventures and meet her successor, who should be hired in time for the AGM and the big 15 party at the Rialto Theatre.

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

 

Alexandre Schmitt (Vice President, Alliance des radios communautaire du Canada); Lily Ryan (President, Quebec Community Newspaper Association); Mélanie Joly (Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie); Francis Sonier (Association de la presse francophone); Guy Rodgers (Executive Director, English Language Arts Network) and Hugh Maynard (representative on behalf of English-language community radio in Quebec).

 

The Official Language Community Media Consortium has been working for the last two years to raise awareness of the urgent necessity for government support for media in a minority language situation.

Through the federal government’s Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-2023, a $14.5 million investment toward community-based, minority language media has already been initiated, made up of $4.5 million over five years to create 100 internships, and $10 million toward the Minority Media Fund to provide financial assistance for projects that contribute to the maintenance of official-language minority radio and newspapers. The Consortium met with Minister Joly on July 11, 2019 to update on the progress of the support measures and to talk about progress on a Harmonized Interdepartmental Action Plan to Support Official Language Community Media, especially a proportionate share of federal government advertising in official language minority media.

As an organization serving the minority-language community of English-speaking Quebecers, ELAN strongly condemns the implementation of Bill 21 and Justice Michel Yergeau’s decision last week to reject an appeal from civil rights organizations to suspend this law. We support the newest actions of the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association who now seek to appeal the Quebec Superior Court’s decision.

We therefore join our voices in solidarity with the Canadian and Quebec organizations that have condemned Bill 21, including the Canadian Council of Muslim Women; Fédération des femmes du Québec; Justice Femme; the Public Service Alliance (MUNACA); the Quebec Writers’ Federation; the Council of Canadian Muslims; the Canadian Civil Liberties Association; the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA); and the municipal governments across Quebec that have declared that they will not enforce Bill 21.

Read the full statement below:

Download (PDF, 35KB)