The Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM), in partnership with the Maisons de la culture de Montréal and the Association des diffuseurs culturelles de l’Île de Montréal (ADICÎM), is launching its 40th season of CAM en tournée, a program whose two-million-dollar budget allows for unique, creative and local artistic programming that is accessible to all Montrealers across the island. From now until May 31, 2024, the residents of Montréal’s 19 boroughs and 11 participating cities will have the chance to enjoy some of the 485 presentations of 101 selected works that, for the most part, are entirely free of charge.
For the 2023-2024 season, the 88 arts organizations and collectives selected won’t only be livening up indoor spaces at the various Maisons de la culture, performance venues and libraries, but also unexpected outdoor sites such as church grounds, markets, alleyways and parks. The specific aim of the current programming, which is geared to all age groups, is to reach new audiences and put into practice values that include quality, sharing, openness and inclusion.
A program that had been continually evolving for 40 years
Over the past four decades, this flagship program has paved the way for more than 12,285 performances, exhibitions, screenings and other artistic activities in the island’s 19 boroughs and 15 participating cities and has been an important driver of Montréal’s artistic vitality. This anniversary edition marks an important milestone and highlights the relevance of this cultural outreach initiative, unique in North America, which has become a pillar of development for arts communities, promoting the democratization of the arts and culture within all the neighbourhoods.
The program has grown considerably since its official creation on February 1, 1984. Originally, the program focused entirely on music and theatre. whereas now, a wide variety of artistic disciplines are showcased (street performances, circus arts, digital arts, visual arts, cinema/video, dance, literature, music, non-traditional arts practices, theatre). This year, the number of artistic activities has also jumped to nearly 500 (from the initial 18), and the budget has increased a hundredfold from $20,000 to $2 million over 40 years.
Thanks to various partnerships, some major projects have been added to the 2023-2024 programming, including Orchestre Métropolitain’s big concert at the foot of Mount Royal, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal concerts in the parks (Jarry), the Virée classique (on the Olympic Park’s Esplanade), as well as Repercussion Theatre’s Shakespeare-in-the-Park series. Entirely new for this 40th anniversary, the Conseil is partnering with La traversée du siècle, a 12-hour lecture-fleuve, a steady stream of dramatic readings celebrating Michel Tremblay’s universe, thanks to a unique collaboration between seven of Montréal’s performing arts theatres.
CAM en tournée promotes diversity of expression and forms of creation. The program provides tangible support to the arts community by extending the lifespan of works and providing artists with quality touring conditions. It is a lever for promotion and artistic outreach, providing a broad and accessible cultural offering and encouraging the exploration of arts and culture within communities. While the program has evolved to keep pace with local needs, it is now firmly centred on the principles of inclusion, proximity and, especially, environmental responsibility: the CAM is convinced that supporting local touring and optimizing the spread of works are sustainable practices that must be promoted.
“CAM en tournée truly embodies the values of the Conseil des arts de Montréal and, even after 40 years, remains a flagship and innovative program that makes us unique while also extending the lifespan of artistic works. Over the years, it has succeeded in drawing the arts community’s vital forces together in the most beautiful way possible, through fruitful collaborations with municipal dissemination partners, the pillars of Montréal’s creative heart, as well as artists from all disciplines, with the shared goal of reaching out to all Montrealers and experiencing the arts collectively,” said Nathalie Maillé, Executive Director of the CAM.
“The City of Montréal is proud to contribute to the deployment of CAM en tournée in the Maisons de la culture. For 40 years, CAM en tournée has made art accessible to a wide range of audiences. This program aligns perfectly with our vision of the Maisons de la culture, which we want to see become even more open, innovative and inclusive. Thanks to high-quality artistic offerings, we give more artists the opportunity to meet audiences right in their own neighbourhoods. It is through this type of collaboration with key partners such as the Conseil des arts de Montréal that we succeed in democratizing access to culture, which lies at the very heart of the city’s identity,” said Montréal Mayor Valérie Plante.
Playing on the island with CAM en tournée: 40 years of artistic expression across the island
Wishing to help consolidate and improve working conditions of Montréal’s artists, and recognizing a strong need for artistic offerings beyond the city centre, the Conseil created a pilot project with Théâtre Populaire du Québec in 1983 called “Jouer dans l’île” to provide musical and theatrical offerings. In view of the initiative’s success, the program was officially established by resolution of the Board of Directors on February 1, 1984. Over time, other components were added to include additional artistic disciplines and localities: Exposer dans l’île, Lire dans l’île, Entrez dans la danse and Cinéastes à vos portes.
It was in 1988 that the CAM began its glorious collaboration with Orchestre Métropolitain to offer symphony concerts to all the island’s citizens, which gave rise to the Art and Community component to support organized tours of at least five performances at five different venues.
In 2003, shortly before the initiative’s 25th anniversary, these different components were merged to become Le Conseil des arts de Montréal en tournée and the parameters were revised to take into account the specific reality of each borough or municipality.
When the pandemic overtook the program in 2020 and 2021, the Conseil pulled up their socks and created the project’s cousin, Art Out in the Open, with the aim to support the dissemination of artistic projects adapted to the public health measures: professional Montréal artists taking the city by storm, using non-traditional urban spaces to surreptitiously and spontaneously display their art in everyday settings. Last year, when the CAM en tournée returned in full force, it had retained some of that agility and the spirit of local accessibility.
CAM en tournée
CAM en tournée
CAM en tournée is a key dissemination program for the cultural community, made possible through the collaboration of the Maisons de la culture de Montréal and the Association des diffuseurs culturels de l’Île de Montréal (ADICÎM). For the past 40 years, through free or inexpensive programming, it has focused on the circulation of works from various artistic disciplines throughout the Island of Montréal while enabling artists to meet new audiences and reach the public in their neighbourhoods.