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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.

The year 2016 will go into the annals as the year of policy consultation. ELAN invested an exceptional amount of time and energy consulting with our members and community and writing briefs.

Our efforts began with the Quebec Ministry of Culture’s first review of its cultural policy in 25 years. We submitted a brief in April and met with Quebec Minister of Culture and Communication, Luc Fortin in August.

Then came the Department of Canadian Heritage’s quinquennial review of Official Language programs, which are of vital importance to ELAN and our members. We submitted our brief in November. Next week ELAN will accompany the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) to Ottawa for a consultation with senior officials from Canadian Heritage and Mr. Randy Boissonnault, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Our third brief was written for the Canadian Content in a Digital World consultation launched in April by the Minister of Canadian Heritage. The goal of Minister Joly’s ambitious and far-reaching public consultation is to bring Canada’s cultural properties – laws, institutions, policies and programs – into the digital age. Thank you to ELAN members who provided valuable insights and suggestions for our brief, submitted November 25.

Congratulations are in order to ELAN’s board member Fortner Anderson who was elected to a two-year term on Culture Montréal’s board of directors to represent ELAN and Montreal’s English-speaking artists. I had the pleasure of serving on Culture Montréal’s board for four years and am pleased that Fortner will continue this valuable collaboration. I also want to congratulate the NFB, particularly Annette Clark (Executive Producer Quebec/Atlantic Studio), Kat Baula (Producer Quebec/Atlantic Studio), and Michelle Van Beusekom (Executive Director, Programming and Production) for hosting an open-house information session on November 17. This was the first of many future opportunities for directors, screenwriters, composers, editors, and designers to connect with the NFB.

ELAN’s final public event of 2016 is tonight’s schmoozer at McGill in collaboration with the Schulich School of Music Booking & Ensemble Offices and McGill’s Career Planning Service. We hope to see many of you there.

The musical connection could not be more appropriate as we pay tribute to Leonard Cohen, an outstanding artist, Montrealer, and human being. Over the years I have spoken to many people who knew him as a friend or colleague. He is always membered as a thoughtful, considerate, and compassionate soul, forever striving for the highest expressions of artistry and humanity. Leonard Cohen was a great inspiration to all.

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

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