The Government of Quebec recently announced it will invest in two projects that will largely contribute to the development of theatre for younger audiences in Canada. The government guaranteed financial support for the construction of a multifunctional venue in Montreal, that will be shared by Maison Théâtre and the college cégep du Vieux Montreal. With 26 professional youth theatre companies in their membership, Maison Théâtre is essential to the engagement of young audiences across Canada. The new venue will present pieces that ask for more intimacy like those that are addressed at very young audiences, as well as experimental productions. The funds will also be invested in the renovation of the magnificent theatre hall that Maison Théâtre occupies since over 30 years.
The Government of Quebec also announced to financially support the theatre company Le Carousel in its efforts to create, in collaboration with Théâtre Le Clou, an international research and creation center for youth theatre under the name Cube. This centre will be a place of experimentation, exchange and advanced training. Through residences, Cube will host artists and companies creating theatre for young audiences. Cube wants to support the evolution and the development of creative youth theatre practices on a local, national and international level. Both companies responsible for the creation of this promising project, Le Carousel and Théâtre Le Clou, are nationally and internationally renowned for the excellence and relevancy of their practice.
Throughout the last few years and almost simultaneously, the spokespersons of theatre for young audiences for Wallonie-Bruxelles, France and Quebec worked on their policies concerning the development and the support of the theatre for children and young people. They each have analyzed their respective regions and produced documents containing proposals and recommendations. In December 2013, the Centre Wallonie-Bruxelles in Paris gathered organizations of three French-speaking countries for a meeting under the title Regards croisés sur les états des lieux et revendications en Europe et en Amérique francophone, a conference on the contemporary situation of youth theatre in Europe and in French-speaking America. Organized in association with TUEJ (Montreal), SCÈNES D’ENFANCE ET D’AILLEURS (France), CTEJ
Exchange of Expertise between Quebec and Alsace
As part of the program Coopération décentralisée France Québec, Théâtre jeunesse Les Gros Becs and l’Agence culturelle d’Alsace received financial support for the project « La Belle saison franco-québécoise et la petite enfance ». This project couples two programming structures, Théâtre jeunesse Les Gros Becs (Québec) and La Passerelle (Rixheim), as well as two theatre companies, Les Incomplètes (Québec) and le Fil rouge (Alsace). This project will allow an exchange of expertise in terms of creation, distribution and mediation in the field of theatre for very young audiences. Engaging artists, distributors as well as adults accompanying the young children, the planned activities include meetings and residencies favouring the development of tools for the purpose of creation and mediation. The activities take place from May 2015 to autumn 2016.
Cuts to Culture in Quebec
The Government of Quebec has implemented multiple austerity measures and proceeded to cuts in government funding for healthcare, education and culture as well as for the remote regions of Québec. Conseil des arts et de lettres du Québec (CALQ) saw itself forced to cut programs and this will affect artists and theatre companies working in the field of theatre for children and young audiences. The suspension of the co-production assistance programs, cuts to programs financially supporting the administrative structures of companies as well as budget cuts at Conseils régionaux de la culture, Centres locaux de développement, Conférences régionales des élus as well as our partners in the area of education, will affect many practitioners in the field of theatre for young audiences. The times to come will be difficult and companies will need to fight to ensure their development, some will even need to fight for their survival.