Some 100 Québec artists took to the stages of Festivals Edinburgh (Fringe, International and the Literary Festival) during the month of August, brilliantly demonstrating their skills in circus arts, music, dance and literature to eager audience and programmers from all over the world in search of new strong signatures. And Québec has certainly made its mark there! From packed auditoriums to enthralled audience, at premieres or repeat performances, Québec creators received a warm welcome and heartfelt applause.
Artists and companies took the opportunity to forge new relationships and develop new markets that will support the rise that has begun since some 20 of them made their mark at Festivals Edinburgh as part of a Québec showcase in 2015.
The importance of Festivals Edinburgh
Festivals Edinburgh is the largest event of its kind in the world. Every summer, the city transforms itself by offering a string of festivals and 3,680 shows presenting the public with the very best of the world’s contemporary scene. Millions of visitors visit it and programmers from all continents gather there, looking for new artistic proposals, artists and performers to discover.
Anne-Marie Jean, President and CEO of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and Marie-Pierre Dolbec, Program Manager, Broadcasting, Events and International Outreach, were invited by British Council Scotland, Festivals Edinburgh and Creative Scotland to take the pulse of the event and make presentations. It was an opportunity for the Conseil to meet many partners and to build and deepen relationships with Scottish and international professionals. This initiative is part of the Conseil’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan and its international intervention framework (cadre d’intervention international) and provides food for thought on the various avenues to be explored to maximize the influence of Québec’s artistic works on the international scene and support market development.
“Festivals Edinburgh is an essential platform for the development of artists’ careers and the promotion of Québec works. The Conseil intends to continue developing initiatives to support artists and organizations so that their presence leads to the realization of projects,” commented Anne-Marie Jean upon her return from Scotland.
Québec creativity on display at the Fringe
While the dance company Cas Public (“9” at the Church Hill Theatre) and conductor Bernard Labadie (Orfeo and Euridice at Usher Hall) were performing at the Edinburgh International Festival, three Québec circus companies were part of Fringe’s programming. Building on the success of recent years, FLIP Fabrique made a welcome comeback with Blizzard (August 1 to 26, Assembly Hall), its new opus, while two other companies made remarkable debut there: Machine de Cirque (La Galerie, August 1 to 25, Assembly Rooms) and Les Foutoukours (Kombini, August 3 to 24, Circus Hub).
Dance was also in the spotlight with a retrospective of choreographer and performer Lara Kramer, who presented three works at the Summerhall: Native Girl Syndrome (August 2 to 11); This Time Will Be Different (August 13 to 18) and Miijin Ki (August 20 to 24). The voices of Tomson Highway and Patricia Cano also highlighted the cohabitation of Québec’s French-speaking, English-speaking and Cree worlds in Songs in the Key of Cree (August 21-24, Kings Hall) and a skillful blend of dance, music and performance by Aboriginal and Scottish cabaret artists as part of the Canada Hub (supported by the Canadian High Commission in the United Kingdom). Contemporary Indigenous Québec creation was particularly noticed at the literary festival with the various performances offered by the Kuujjuaq-born writer and performer Taqralik Partridge, in the company of many artists from different disciplines and origins: Throwing Voices at The Spiegeltent, Songs from the Land: Calling home and Songs from the Land: Sometimes I Speak English at Charlotte Square Gardens.
The programming of Indigenous Contemporary Scene, which featured performances at the three Scottish festivals for the first time, was designed by Commissioner Emilie Monnet and produced by Productions Onishka, with the support of the Conseil.
The number of show presenters, agents and companies that have come from Québec to present their projects in Edinburgh demonstrates the importance of this market which, like Avignon and Venice, are essential showcases for promoting the international influence of Québec creativity and ensuring it new outlets.