June 22 2021

Nos indispensables (Our essential artists): announcement of the winners

Montréal, June 22, 2021 — The Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM) is delighted to announce the winners of Nos indispensables (Our essential artists), an event celebrating the incredible generosity and achievements of creators who gave us much-needed hope during the 2020 artistic year. Attended by the Mayor of Montréal, Valérie Plante, the event paid tribute to local creative power while highlighting the essential contribution artists make to the community, particularly during the pandemic. Thanks to the support of many partners and contributors, $114,000 in grants was awarded to all finalists and recipients. Congratulations to our essential artists!


The recipients of Nos indispensables de la bienveillance (Goodwill Award), chosen by the public, raise awareness of cultural diversity in Quebec society. Their stunning Black Lives Matter street mural on Sainte-Catherine entitled La vie des Noir·e·s compte has captivated citizens, who have been gathering there since the murder of George Floyd. While ephemeral, the collective’s piece has nevertheless left an imprint in the history of Montréal.

The Prix du public (Audience Award) recipient, Never Was Average, was awarded a $10,000 grant from Télé-Québec.



Tackling a number of ambitious projects with courage and candour, Nigra Iuventa’s mission is to engage and include black people in a dialogue from which they have often been excluded, particularly in museum institutions. Skilfully blending creativity and wisdom, the organization’s willingness to question and act light the way for the future.

The Nos indispensables de l’équité (Equity Award) recipient, Nigra Iuventa, was awarded a $10,000 grant from the National Theatre School of Canada and Quebecor.



Écoscéno embraces the fragility of the world head on by galvanizing and unifying the public. On the crest of a wave about to break, its values and consciousness of the environment drive creation. Faced with a colossal and complex ecological challenge, Écoscéno offers smart and sustainable solutions to the community.

The Nos indispensables de l’innovation (Innovation Award) recipient, Écoscéno, received a $10,000 grant from Bell and Luc Plamondon.



Drôldadon transforms its broad smiles into rays of sunshine to warm the hearts of those locked down at home, often those who are the most vulnerable due to the pandemic, such as the elderly or social housing tenants. By taking the clown to the people, the collective opens up the world of art to those with little access to it.

The Nos indispensables de la proximité (Community Spirit Award) recipient, Drôldadon, was awarded a $10,000 grant from Telus and Tourisme Montréal.



For collective Web of Virtual Kin, solidarity is not a cause for protest. Instead, it invents an alternative space for meeting and healing that welcomes marginalized communities. The unique and highly original approach of these young artists who aspire to change our perceptions transports us elsewhere in a decidedly refreshing way.

The Nos indispensables de la solidarité (Solidarity Award) recipient, Web of Virtual Kin, was awarded a $10,000 grant from Power Corporation of Canada.



Librairie Racines gives little-heard voices a platform via new spaces for discussion and discovery, creating a more inclusive society through literature. Committed to showcasing Black and Indigenous artists and racialized communities, this Plaza Saint-Hubert bookstore, formerly in Montréal-Nord, was intended as a social project reflecting Montréal’s racial reality.

The Jury Prize awarded to Librairie Racines includes a $10,000 grant from the Caisse Desjardins de la Culture.


A major arts gathering

Broadcast live from the PHI Centre, the ceremony was hosted by Pierre-Yves Lord in the company of Nathalie Maillé, Executive Director of the Conseil des arts de Montréal, Jan-Fryderyk Pleszczynski, Chair of the CAM Board of Directors, Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal, Marie-Christine Cojocaru, Executive Director of the Caisse Desjardins de la Culture and, of course, the finalists.

Several special guests were also present to hand over the awards, including actor Louise Latraverse, conductor and new artistic director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Rafael Payare, choreographer and dancer Rhodnie Désir, lyrical artist Marc Hervieux and curator of living arts Marco Pronovost.

“It is a real pleasure to see the community come together to celebrate these innovative, inspiring and positive initiatives that emerged in 2020. Like a balm for the soul, the benefits and hope that artists bring to the public are incalculable. They persevered, often under difficult conditions, with empathy and sensitivity. On behalf of the entire Conseil des arts de Montréal team, I thank and congratulate all the finalists and Nos indispensables (Our essential artists) recipients,” said Nathalie Maillé, Executive Director of the Conseil des arts de Montréal.

Jury composition

Chaired by Jan-Fryderyk Pleszczynski, the jury included artist and TV host Édith Cochrane, journalist and columnist Vanessa Destiné, President and CEO of the Chambre de la sécurité financière Marie Elaine Farley and filmmaker Khoa Lê.

The jury selected the winners for the Nos indispensables de l’équité (Equity Award), innovation (Innovation Award), proximity (Proximity Award), solidarity (Solidarity Award) categories and the Jury Prize. For the first time in the history of the Conseil, the public was invited to vote for the Prix du public (Audience Award) — Nos indispensables de la bienveillance (Goodwill Award).

The Conseil des arts de Montréal would like to thank its major partners, Caisse Desjardins de la Culture, Télé-Québec, and La Presse, whose substantial support helped make this event accessible to the public.

Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal

For more than 35 years, the Conseil has celebrated Montréal’s major artistic achievements at its annual Grand Prix event, which was suspended due to the pandemic. The CAM created and organized the Nos indispensables (Our essential artists) event so it could mark 2020 in a fitting, positive and original way.