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COVID-19: What now for Cultural life in Montreal?

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Movie theatres, concert halls, museums, are all closed these days, and although some of these venues work on tentative dates to reopen, in the middle of this crisis no one can predict when will that happen, if at all, since the current situation may extend until the end of this year. Summer, as the usual season for festivals, has been practically given up for lost. Now, some festival producers are thinking of alternative ways of presenting their events. Others have simply opted for cancellation: the Francos, the Jazz Festival, the Fireworks Competition, ComicCon, and of course, the Formula 1, which in turn has meant the cancellation of the street festivals that have become a regular accompaniment of the car race.

No major festivals this summer, but after that?

Fantasia, a film festival devoted to the action, horror, and fantasy genres, has already announced that this year it will feature a digital edition. “We are certainly saddened for being unable to present the festival in its physical format as we had planned for this year. But we’re happy to work with (partners) Festival Scope and Shift 72 for this unprecedented virtual edition” said Mitch Davis, Fantasia’s Artistic Director. This iconic summer fest will take place between August 20 and September 2. The lineup for this year’s edition will be unveiled during this month.

Artists are here for us, but what about their own future?

For its part, Blue Metropolis, Montreal’s literary festival whose 2020 edition scheduled for April was already cancelled, has also resorted to a virtual method to reach the public. The festival’s series “Ideas and Society” is already online and will continue throughout this month “featuring fifteen or so public figures who will each answer three questions and suggest a book, providing an idea of what the future might hold for us…” Blue Metropolis is also updating its online platform on Mental Health and Literature with sections for children, teens, adults, and seniors. Those interested can visit them at bluemetropolis.org/well-being/

Cultural and artistic activities are still with us, providing comfort, entertainment, and intellectual or emotional support need at these difficult times. But how about those involved in creating and delivering these moments to us? Some artists and cultural organizations have expressed concerns about their future, not only at this moment, but even after the worst of the pandemic is over and some degree of normality returns. “Two recent surveys indicate that two-thirds of Quebecers are not ready to go back to concert halls or visit a museum. Their concern could last up to 6 months. What should artists, managers and governments do between now and then? What priorities should help inform a plan to revive the cultural sector?” This is what a group of Quebec artists and cultural promoters are concerned about. Therefore they are also asking what the different levels of government, the private sector and other stakeholders in the field of culture plan to do to revive the cultural industries in the province and in the country. Among the signatories are André Dudemaine, Director of Arts Activities, Montreal First Peoples Festival; Nassib El-Husseini, General Director Les 7 Doigts; Manon Gauthier, Executive Director, Jean-Paul Riopelle Foundation; Monique Savoie, President – Founder and Artistic Director, Société des arts technologiques (SAT); Louise Sicuro, President and CEO, Culture pour tous.

There is no question that as musicians, filmmakers, actors and actresses, and cultural producers are helping us to go through this challenging period, they also deserve to have the necessary support for the job they are doing.

By: Sergio Martinez – info@mtltimes.ca

Other articles from mtltimes.ca and totimes.ca

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