Major Event for Art |  “Why so many honors and so little value? »

Despite the rain Thursday afternoon, Quebec's artistic community staged a loud demonstration in front of the offices of the Ministry of Culture and Communications, Mathieu Lacombe, rue de Pluri, chanting slogans such as “no future without culture” or “no artists”. Free!” »


More than a thousand cultural workers responded to the call of the four organizers of this meeting: Sara Lorenzo, Mirail Tawbic, Hugo Frejabis and Genevieve Gagne, who then spoke directly to the crowd gathered on rue de Fleury. Rue Sainte-Catherine.

Participants got a grave to deposit items related to projects not funded by the Conseil des arts et des Lettres du Québec (CALQ), which received 28 million over four years to develop its projects in Quebec last year. Budget.

The four impulses of this first major event call for an upward rethinking of the funding allocated to the arts. “We're asking for 100 million more in the CALQ budget,” said actress and DJ Sara Laurento, who said she was “confused, angry, worried and tired” in her speech.

Messages lack originality: “Be free in crisis. » “I want to be a paid artist. » “The question is whether money should be paid or not. » “Culture does not always exist. » “The Poor Singer”.

Photo by Martin Chamberland, The Press

More than a thousand cultural workers responded to the call.

To the astonishment of the demonstrators, Minister Mathieu Lacombe took his raincoat and joined the crowd to listen to artists take turns decrying arts funding on the microphone.

Asked by Pres, Mr. Lacombe said he was aware of society's grievances. “I came to hear them,” he said. I understand that they would have liked more in the budget, but it was a starting point. The second step, as I have already mentioned, is to find additional amounts in the budget allocated to me. »

Minister Lacombe highlighted the fact that “the CALQ budget has increased by 35% since 2018, excluding inflation, and by 22% over the same period”. “Now I understand that there are demands and I am looking for additional amounts,” he said, believing Unity MP Rupa Ghajal had exaggerated when she said he “despised the culture”.

Photo by Patrick Sanfagon, La Presse Archives

Minister of Culture and Communications, Mathieu Lacombe

Asked whether the 100 million envelope over four years was realistic, the minister preferred to temper expectations.

“It will definitely not be 100 million, but I think CALQ can take extra steps to improve the budget,” the minister concluded. An announcement could be made “in a few days”, he clarified before continuing the sometimes difficult discussions with the protesting artists.

Many artists, institutions and cultural organizations, however, voiced their support for the demands of the four artists.

When we cross a desert, we cannot sit idly by, trying to find individual ways to wet ourselves, we must be completely united. We represent a form of aggregate risk. If you see someone drowning, you get wet, and that's what artists do. They are the saviors of society.

Jean-François Casabonne, writer and actor

Actress Sophie Cadieux also spoke: “In Quebec we have this bad habit of concrete. Places, agoras, rooms, views, experiences, but when it comes time to live in these places, mysteriously we don't have the means…”

“I'm happy to be here. It's good for me to see this mobilization,” said Tania Gondoyani, president of the artists' association. “During the pandemic, CALQ funded many projects for the design of laboratories and works, but many of these projects did not have funds to spread, so the cemetery. Today, the daily life of artists Affected, there is no schedule from 2017, companies are afraid to reduce their offer.”

Nadia Drouin, General Director of En Piste Circus Group, was also present.

“Less than 10 circus companies are supported by CALQ, so the ecosystem is very fragile and depends on projects. Circus artists rarely survive, many do not believe it, they get tired and think of leaving the profession. In addition, there is a 30% reduction in international representations, which means that those who are privileged to receive assistance So it's not a happy moment for companies.

The overwhelming praise from members of the CAQ government, described by former culture minister Nathalie Roy as “the souls of the people of Quebec,” summed up the artists' frustration well: “Guys of the government, why so many honors, so little value? »

Other events are planned for May and June. But discussions are continuing with the office of the Minister of Culture and Communications.

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