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Quebec ambition back on display around the world


Editorial by CALQ CEO Anne-Marie Jean on the resumption of international cultural activities.

«Hidden Paradise», with Alix Dufresne and Daniel Parent.
© Maxime Côté

Tours cancelled, collective presences at major events postponed, creative residencies suddenly interrupted… For the past two years, our community has experienced more upheaval than ever before, with our cultural habits upset and artists being forced from one day to the next to withdraw from the international scene.

Maintaining a presence despite the unpredictability

The past two years were littered with obstacles and questions. However, they also engendered new ways of working, attesting of our collective ability to adapt.

For the past few months, collective presences on international soil have gotten back on track, driven by the gradual reopening of most countries to foreign visitors. It is a much-anticipated, much-needed return, because the visibility of productions, companies, and artists from Québec contributes to the development of the performance arts scene as a whole.

In July, Québec talent shined bright at the prestigious Festival OFF d’Avignon This link will open in a new window. Some of the resoundingly successful shows we can point to include those by Alix Dufresne (Hidden Paradise), Flip Fabrique (Six°), Machine de cirque (La Galerie), Gros orteil (Le bibliothécaire), and the Foutoukours (Glob). Evidence that the appetite for Québec creations from foreign markets has not waned, they left Avignon with dates booked for the next three years in France. 

Just a few weeks later, it was the Edinburgh Fringe Festival This link will open in a new window’s turn to welcome Québec artists to its stages. Recognized as the most important arts festival in the world, the Fringe offers an unparalleled opportunity for companies that want to pursue their international development on a broader scale. The calibre of the offer presented also provides organizations and artists the opportunity to evaluate their positioning on the market.

In August, Andrea Peña was invited to present This link will open in a new window her most recent creation to open the Internationale Tanzmesse festival. This German festival is one of the leading events in contemporary dance, and Québec dance was well represented as part of a large delegation of professional artists. For the company, it is an incredible opportunity to showcase its imagination to programmers from around the world in a single performance. We are delighted that Québec artistic expression has returned to the largest stages in the world.

We should note the outstanding work by Québec delegations abroad. By maintaining dialogue and existing connections with presenters in their area during the pandemic, they kept an open invitation to these collective presences. We applaud their efforts, which are essential to our artistic vitality.

Maintaining connections

While Quebec’s ambitions have been making themselves felt again beyond our borders for the past few months, the resumption of cultural activities still offers exciting challenges, beginning with the need to reconnect with production and presentation networks. In the past two years, new faces have taken the helm of local and international companies. New artistic signatures have appeared, and the angle of programming is changing. It is therefore essential to develop new relationships and build on others with foreign companies.

To achieve this, we offer the Mesure d’aide la coproduction internationale (international co-production aid measure), designed to give Québec organizations that produce artworks the financial leverage to generate investment from co-producers outside Québec. We provide matching grants of up to $50,000, which is in addition to the financing from international co-producers.

The support measure for foreign shows Accueil d’œuvres de l’extérieur du Québec (hosting works from outside Québec), also supports presenters that host international works or productions. It contributes to an important reciprocity of artistic exchanges and offers artists from around the world the chance to meet Québec audiences. This support often results in rewarding encounters and opens the door to developing new strategic markets.

Take creation beyond the usual walls

Emerging from the crisis has also allowed us to reinstate and enhance our offer of international creative residencies. By enabling artists to spend several months outside their usual work environment, CALQ studio-apartments help generate inspiration and creation, and strengthen vibrant cultural diplomacy, which is essential in this time of recovery.

In the past year, we entered into new studio-apartment agreements: a creative residency for playwrights in Guadeloupe (a first in a French overseas department), as well as a residency in Cuba This link will open in a new window for artists in literature, music, arts and crafts, and puppet theatre.

We also introduced a first residency program exclusively for circus arts. Beginning next summer, circus artists and collectives will have access to a five-week creation and production residency in Toulouse, in cooperation with La Grainerie.

Many others are in negotiations and will be announced soon. Implementing additional residencies is a response to a need expressed by artists to get back out in the world to reconnect, mentally and physically, with their creativity. Whether in Guadeloupe, Toulouse, or in one of our 38 other residences, artists can take advantage of invaluable technical resources and creative support.

Abundant production

With more time to think and explore, the past few years have been conducive to creation, and production offers abound. Applications for creating new projects exploded at the CALQ during the pandemic, resulting in an impressive offer of productions, now at the stage of a first or subsequent tour. We want to support these efforts, to ensure projects are seen and heard at home and around the world.

The challenge will now be to combine production, international development, and environmental responsibility, with environmental challenges more than ever central to our collective concerns.

In line with our mission to sustainably support the artistic development of organizations, we recently announced integrating environmental responsibility in the next application for Soutien à la mission (mission support) for organizations, planned for February 2024. We are doing this to ensure that your international projects have a tangible, lasting impact. We will be supporting you in these reflections and any resulting efforts. 

Hats off

We cannot sign off without mentioning the departure of Alain Paré from CINARS This link will open in a new window, the biennale of which is one of the most important international events in the performing arts. Again this year, CINARS brought together 1227 professionals from 51 countries, a sign of the strong desire for the live show community to assemble to build the future after a long pause.

In founding CINARS, Alain Paré gave Québec leverage to lift up the performance arts world. For 45 years, his vision, commitment, and initiatives have created springboards and generated visibility for hundreds of artists and organizations, by fostering their international visibility and offering unprecedented economic benefits.

Thank you for everything, dear Alain.

- Anne-Marie Jean
Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec CEO

After being part of the exhibition Novalis Terra in April at the Musée La Piscine de Roubaix, in France, the piece Vase Saint-Sébastien III (2021) by Québec ceramics artist Laurent Craste was purchased by the museum for its permanent collection.
© Laurent Craste

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