May 19 2020

Feedback from the arts community: the Conseil listens to and meets with professional associations and groups

In its efforts to stay in tune with the cultural milieu and better understand the impacts of the crisis on artists and on arts organizations and collectives, the Conseil des arts de Montréal had an opportunity to speak with representatives of a dozen professional associations and groups on April 29.

These informative discussions were a chance to talk about the many challenges faced by the arts and culture sector. Here is an overview of the concerns, which certainly extend beyond these few lines, but which will form the basis of the Conseil’s actions in working with the community.

Social distancing
This measure affects artists and arts organizations and collectives on many levels—administrative, operational, technical, health, human, and financial. In addition to its repercussions on access to arts venues, it also raises issues that undermine the very essence of the performing arts and modes of expression. The community is asking what measures should be put in place to ensure the health and safety of audiences, artists, and cultural workers while maintaining the ability to create.

Social acceptability
Will audiences, artists, and cultural workers be inclined to return to arts and cultural venues without experiencing anxiety and perhaps even fear of others? What means will be put in place to maintain these relations? And when the time comes, how can we ensure that organizations or collectives in precarious circumstances will have the human and financial capacity to present cultural works?

Digital and other new models
The lockdown has also seen the emergence of a significant amount of digital arts content, often shared freely and spontaneously. However, this approach has raised many concerns in various sectors. First, since the very nature of artistic works and the technical feasibility of digital recording vary greatly from discipline to discipline, this model does not always translate. Second, sharing works without remuneration increases the risk of devaluing the work of artists and cultural workers. It would thus appear essential to consider other avenues and—for communities able to adapt to digital formats—ensure the implementation of profitable models and distribution platforms.

The Conseil has been asked to promote intercultural collaborations between artists and citizens and, more than ever, to address issues related to equity and recognition of cultural diversity in a situation in which a less openly racist rhetoric about supporting differences is emerging. 

The need for spaces
In all disciplines, it is hoped that the Conseil can support measures that facilitate safe access to rehearsal studios and creative spaces through its various partner networks.