ELAN History Series: 2019
ELAN’s 2019 AGM Board photo. Back row, left to right: Isak Goldschneider, Roger Sinha, Patrick Lloyd Brennan, Keith Henderson, Quinten Sheriff, Blair Mackay, Paul Bracegirdle, and Tim Piper. Front row, left to right: Purna Bhattacharya, Kakim Goh, Li Li, Lori Schubert, and Deirdre Potash.
Photo by: Nasuna Stuart-Ulin
In August 2019, ELAN celebrated 15 years of serving the English-language arts community of Quebec with a full house at the Rialto Theatre for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and party. Performances were hosted by stage and film actor Jimmy Blais, and featured dance by Greg Selinger and Travis Knights, as well as an ensemble piece choreographed by Andrea Peña; comedy by the TITTERS duo of Janis Kirshner and Laura Mitchell; and music by Irem Bekter, Carolyn Fe, Kevin Harvey, and the Urban Science Brass Band.
Urban Science Brass Band performing at ELAN’s 15th AGM.
Photo by: Nasuna Stuart-Ulin
The 15th anniversary provided an opportunity to celebrate ELAN’s accomplishments in a series of short videos featuring members, created by board member Roger Sinha and summer student Yonger Xie. A 15th anniversary commemorative booklet and detailed on-line histories were made available for ELAN members and the public as a documentation of each of the first 15 years.
Celebrating 15 Years of ELAN.
Produced by Roger Sinha and Yonger Xie.
Over the course of the year, ELAN hosted a variety of events for members that included long-running bi-monthly Schmoozers, and introduced a few new collaborations. In 2019, ELAN hosted its first ever Member Film Night in collaboration with Beanduck Productions, and several skills-development workshops in mental health training for arts facilitators, practical introductions to apps for theatre professionals, and a hackathon through our ARTS2U project. ELAN’s 15th year saw the team grow significantly with the hiring of Program Manager Swati Khanna to replace Amy Macdonald, and the creation of two new positions: Admin Manager Deborah Forde and Québec Relations Research Coordinator Nick Maturo. ELAN also hired two summer students for 15th anniversary promotion: Yonger Xie and Camille Horrocks-Denis.
After two years of consultations and development, ELAN published an Inclusion Plan that mobilized its priorities as an organization serving the English-speaking community of Quebec. The plan was developed to integrate values of inclusion and equity in the specific areas of our work in Membership, Human Resources, Governance, Advocacy, and Communications. Conversations about inclusion, diversity, and equity have made it clear that many of Quebec’s English-speaking artists face specific barriers due to discrimination based on race, gender, disability, Indigeneity, language, and a number of other factors, and the creation of the Inclusion Plan was an important step for ELAN’s evolution to respond to the current needs of our community.
State of the Arts 2019
Started in fall 2018, State of the Arts III (SotA) continued into 2019 with regional and local workshops aimed to explore and develop artists’ profiles, known as Assertion Sessions and Affirmation Workshops led by Project Manager, Farah Fancy. In February, the State of the Arts program culminated with an Activation Conference, hosted at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), and an experimental “cocktail” called TEXTURES.
The Activation Conference brought together individuals artists with representatives of numerous arts organizations and funders from all levels of government, including Conseil des arts de Montréal, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Department of Canadian Heritage. Attendees had a chance to network and ask questions in person by participation in a “Funder Speed-Dating” activity.
The conference opened with a presentation by Nadine St-Louis, of Sacred Fire Productions, on reclaiming Indigenous narratives within colonial spaces, and the framework of arts institutions across Quebec and Canada. The conference proceeded with a series of morning and afternoon workshops that engaged participants in discussions on topics ranging from identity politics and self-identification in the arts, accessibility and well-being, to provincial funding. Participants were also invited to present a short pitch for a community-based arts project that could benefit from a $1500 grant, with public votes open through March 2019.
Wrapping up the 2019 State of the Arts program, the SotA project team hosted an experimental “cocktail” called TEXTURES that invited participants to collaborate in creative brainstorming sessions. Events and Access Coordinator, Christale Terris, introduced an element of food-design to the event, connecting participants with one another through shared sensory experience. The event culminated with the announcement of the artists who would be awarded with the $1500 grant through the Public Expert Pitches.
Nadine St-Louis leading a Teach-In: From theory to practice, reclaiming Indigenous narratives within colonial spaces at ELAN’s State of the Arts Conference in 2019.
Photo by: Daybi
A New Phase for ArtEd Initiatives
2019 was an important year of growth for ELAN’s arts and education projects. As the new ACE Initiative projects entered their second year, ELAN published a short series called ACE: Stories, contributed by Keah Hansen. During the year, 20 schools received ACE support. This series would document the progress of artists’ residencies and impacts on the communities they were working with, featuring interviews with artists, students and teachers, and offering a closer look at the social impacts of intergenerational and intercultural arts projects.
One of ELAN’s biggest announcements in 2019 was the launch of the Artists Inspire Grants project in May, funded by a new multiyear, federal micro-grants fund providing $2,500,000 over four years. Working with the ACE facilitation team, Artists Inspire projects would provide $1500 grants to all of the 300 English-language public schools in Quebec to develop creative experiences for students in classrooms in partnership with a roster of artists developed by ELAN. There was immediate interest from the artistic community, with over 50 artists officially approved and registered in the Artists Inspire Grants database by August. By the end of the year, 110 artists had completed the eligibility process.
In August, the ACE Initiative and Artists Inspire Grants were grouped under an umbrella project called ArtEd Initiatives. While the two projects follow a similar formula, artists participating in ACE Initiative projects would continue to be more closely embedded into the communities of their residencies, working broadly with students and school administrators, but also the families and towns.
Led by Project Manager Christie Huff, the ArtEd Initiatives hosted professional training for artist facilitators in collaboration with LEARN and CHSSN, and developed partnerships with Poetry in Voice and the Black Theatre Workshop. As the new Artists Inspire Grants projects unrolled over 2019, the ArtEd team received much media coverage, and participating artists received spotlights in local and provincial media through 2020.
Artists Inspire Grants project Laval. Artists centre and right: melanie garcia and Jason Selman.
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After six months of research and preparation, ELAN’s Québec Relations project entered its public phase in summer 2019. Québec Relations was funded to develop better working relationships between English-language arts organizations and relevant agencies and ministries of the provincial government. With the recruitment of Research Coordinator Nick Maturo, and spearheaded by Executive Director Guy Rodgers, the Quebec Relations project offered a series of surveys and focus groups through the fall.
The surveys and focus groups collected data about community needs to match them with available provincial arts funding, and to understand where there might be community and service gaps. ELAN sent out over 260 surveys to Quebec-based arts organizations. Having mapped the available arts funding in Quebec, ELAN was also able to begin translating 1-page summaries of more than 150 provincial funding programs.
Québec Relations consultation with Amanda Kellock and Linnea Jimison of Repercussion Theatre, Alan Conter from SBC Gallery, and Sandra D’Angelo from Snowglobe Theatre.
Photo by: Guy Rodgers.
ARTS2U Goes Live
After several years of intensive research, surveys and development phases, the public phase of the Digital Solutions project finally went live in 2019. Led by Project Manager Daniel Webster, the project developed a prototype for an arts-listings platform called ARTS2U. The launch made ARTS2U available for beta-testing by artists and arts producers.
Over the course of the year, ELAN published documentation around the research and development phases of ARTS2U, as well as the community concerns and social implications of this highly technical project. ARTS2U was designed for arts producers to maintain control over their data under Canadian digital and privacy laws, at a time when promoting arts events usually means selling that data to American-owned intermediaries like Facebook.
The ARTS2U platform was also designed to streamline connections between media, where participating publications could host an ARTS2U feed that would automatically update on their webpages. Behind the scenes, the ARTS2U structure took into account concerns around inclusion and representing cultural diversity through data structuring. This meant that ARTS2U would develop a format for tagging and categorizing arts events that allowed for self-identification of minority communities and non-mainstream genres.
ARTS2U rounded out an eventful year by participating in an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Hackathon over the summer, and in turn hosted a Hack Arts Montreal hackathon with local participants. ELAN also hosted a webinar over the fall to introduce ARTS2U to the public, and field questions around the project’s development and next steps.
ARTS2U on-line information session. Left to right: Robert, Dan Webster (project leader), Swati Khanna, Guy Rodgers, and Johanna Nutter. ELAN offices.
Photo by: Emily Enhorning
In 2019, ELAN developed the Creative Resilience series as a way to respond to members’ needs, identified through the 2019 Membership Drive, State of the Arts surveys, and conversations with members. Creative Resilience was developed by Membership Services Coordinator Emily Enhorning and Interim Communications Coordinator Lital Khaikin, and was hosted between November 2019 and January 2020.
The series explored the intersections between arts and health by hosting workshops and discussions around emotional aspects of confronting wellbeing as a working artist. Each workshop explored different facets of this experience—from burn-out and mindfulness, to challenging personal awareness of other’s pain and of one’s own tensions as they relate to personal creative practices. The workshops were facilitated by practitioners with professional experience in physical and emotional therapy, whose practices also intersected with artistic methods. The series culminated with a panel in January 2020 that examined creative solutions for building accessibility and collective wellbeing in arts communities.
From left to right: Lisa Ndejuru, Courtney Kirkby, Aimee Louw, Emily Enhorning, Lital Khaikin.
Photo by: Nasuna Stuart-Ulin
The 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act in 2019 presented an opportunity for an extensive review and modernization of the Act, which provides support for French-speaking communities outside Quebec, and for the English-speaking minority here in Quebec. ELAN participated in consultations in Quebec and Ottawa to ensure that the Arts and Culture remained a priority for community development and vitality.
Traditional radio, TV, and print media have been severely impacted by the digital shift. Community media has been particularly hard-hit as revenues decline and costs rise. The federal government created a support program for community media in 2018, and ELAN filled a gap to represent the interests of community and campus radio and television. The Quebec Community Newspapers Association (QCGN) in turn represents English-language print media in Quebec. ELAN and QCGN formed a community media consortium in collaboration with l’Association de la presse francophone (APF) and l’Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada (ARC).
2019 was also a year of upheaval in the English-speaking community. The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) was created 24 years ago as an alternative to Alliance Quebec, which had lost the support of many English-speaking Quebeckers. A new QCGN president was elected in June 2018. By the end of the summer, QCGN was engaged in a battle with long-time ally, the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN) and with the new Secretariat for Relations with English Speaking Quebeckers. By the end of 2019, QCGN lost the support of more than a third of its members through the resignation of 15 community groups, including ELAN, the Quebec Writers’ Federation and the Quebec Drama Federation. Half of the QCGN board also resigned in protest over leadership that refused to consult its members or reflect their interests.