The health crisis may be a thing of the past, but the effects of the pandemic are still being felt, especially as Montreal festivals face a lack of government funding and fear for their survival.
So the general managers of the 16 Montreal festivals have written an open letter to Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez and Pierre Fitzgibbon, the minister responsible for the Metropolis and Montreal region. To the CAQ, Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications Mathieu Lacombe and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante. This letter is published in our Discussions section today.
“The aftermath of this crisis has suddenly revealed the weakness of our structures and the fatigue of our teams. What is to come, whether it is inflation reflected in production costs, essential increases in artists’ fees or human resource issues. […] Current funding does not allow us to maintain the work necessary to properly deploy our operations. The situation has dramatic consequences for the future,” reads the letter, which was signed in particular by the general managers of Montreal’s Full Circus, Nuits d’Afrique, the Festival du nouveau cinéma de Montreal, Fantasia and Présence priveille.
You should know that from mid-2022, the government financial support used to bail out the cultural community from the pandemic crisis has dried up. David Lavoie, general manager of Festival Transamericas (FTA), said, “For now, there is no support. The federal government’s wage subsidies have ended. The same goes for Tourisme Québec, which has increased support for events by 50% in two years. »
At the same time, the cost of production has also gone up. Uncompetitive salaries should be increased to account for inflation and avoid brain death. Worse still, the civilians still haven’t returned.
David Lavoie explains: “In the current situation, I don’t know how we are going to solve the equation for next year. I don’t mean to be alarmist, but yes, we fear the future. »
Alain Mongeau, general manager of the MUTEK festival, agrees: “If nothing is done, the ecosystem will weaken. Some festivals will not resist. The recent disappearance of Coups de theaters and Grosse lanterne Festivals are the first pioneers. And the quality of the programming of those passing through is likely to suffer. »
Already, the statistics are frightening, Mr. Mongeau says. “At the end of the government’s Covid support assistance, we have a shortfall of $200,000. And you have to absorb a 30 to 40% cost increase. Not to mention the necessary changes in salary. »
We can’t pass the bill to the audience because we’re going to lose the audience we’re trying to win back.
David Lavoie, FTA General Manager
To help festivals get back on their feet, the signatories want the Quebec government to extend its investments in the cultural sector for the next four years. The recommendation also appeared in a recent summary of Quebec’s network of regional cultural councils, of which Culture Montreal is a member.
“It is a real cry from the heart that started with this letter, explains Alain Mongo. The world around us is not the same as it was before the pandemic. This observation is shared by all the signatories of the letter, all of whom hold festivals dedicated to specialized fields based in the metropolis.
That is why many would like to see the birth of a Festival Summit, where issues related to these specific events can be discussed to find possible solutions.
“Festivals are very important to Montreal’s position. They should not be taken for granted because everyone is fighting. They are being taken at arm’s length. This cry from the heart needs to be taken seriously. We want people to know that. If we decide to abolish our festivals, it will be done knowingly… ”
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