Produced annually since 1997 by Culture pour tous, Québec’s Journées de la culture is an internationally-recognized province-wide event and the inspiration for initiating the Canada-wide Culture Days initiative.
In 1997, Journées de la culture already involved 725 different organizers (including creators and organizations) across artistic and cultural disciplines in 16 urban and rural regions throughout Québec. In that first year, 163,000 individuals participated in the 3-day event.
The movement continues to grow every year. In 2009, more than 300,000 people showed up for Journées de la culture. This 13th edition of Journées de la culture saw over 8,000 artists, artisans and cultural workers participate in 331 cities and towns throughout the Québec province. Even the municipalities participated more than ever: In 2008, there were 180 municipal organizers; in 2009, there were 238 municipalities that organized activities for the weekend event. To date, nearly 300 municipalities have signed the official Declaration of Journées de la culture!
In 2010, Journées de la culture will take place September 24 - 26. To register an activity with Journées de la culture, please visit their website.
Louise Sicuro, Executive Director of Culture pour tous, notes:
"When we started 13 years ago, we were in Québec’s fragile economic, social and political context. The public finances were at the forefront of people’s mind and the role of the government was being called into question not only in the field of culture but in that of education as well. The labour crisis was in full swing and examples of social exclusion were undeniably on the rise. So when Premier L. Bouchard announced in the spring of 1996 that he was holding a summit to review state priorities with “zero deficit” as his rallying cry, cultural leaders decided that they would prepare for the event by outlining what was to become the platform for Journées de la culture.
We put forward the idea that it was in the best interests of artists and cultural workers to plan and launch a voluntary and militant movement intended to promote a better understanding of culture and the arts among their fellow citizens. We also hoped that this joint venture, involving many members from Québec’s cultural circles, would be supported not only by the government, as an integral part of its cultural mission, but also by other nerve centres like the education and business communities and the municipalities.
In sketching out what would eventually become the Journées de la culture, we sought to go beyond the concept of audience development and draw closer to the ideas of cultural rights and inclusiveness. Thus we made a deliberate decision to put the ideal of cultural democratization back on the public agenda after years of cultural policies and decision driven exclusively by the pursuit of the so-called artistic excellence. It was urgent to foster a new form of cultural mediation by multiplying spaces of trust where people could come together and exchange ideas on the processes involved in art training, art-making, art conservation and dissemination within the large field of culture."
Highlights from previous years
- "Talking Windows" at the Marquette Street Galleries – On a residential street in Montréal, 30 professional artists exhibited their works in windows of citizens' homes for the viewing pleasure of passerbys. In collaboration with homeowners, the artists were on site for the event to explain their work and creative process to the public, transforming the street and neighbourhood into an accessible forum for exchange and dialogue on the art.
- Pointe-À-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History – the public was invited to participate in an archaeological dig simulation accompanied by a guide-activity leader; everyone learned about the history of the City while having fun.
- Parcours Interculturel – four collective works of art were produced as part of Diversity Rally and Quebec's Week of Intercultural Encounters, all involving participation by immigrant citizens.
- Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles invited the public to create woven and knitted scarves for use in the annual État d'urgence organized by ATSA (Socially Acceptable Terrorism / Action terroristes socialement acceptable).
- Artists in Their Environment (Outaouais) – more than twenty professional artists and artisans offered a country outing for the public to the places that help them create. Workshops were presented on ceramics, painting, photography, sculpture and stained glass.
- Foot rally – Mont-Laurier Regional Historical Society – participants explored the streets of the city looking for answers to 110 questions. They traced the city's history and discover its rich heritage. Later, with members of the Society, they put the information together and discuss their findings.
- An Evening in the Past (Angliers) – The Chantier Gédéon invited everyone to experience an evening of traditional legends and songs in the unique atmosphere of an old-time logging camp.
- Sound Technology at Institut Trebas (Ville Marie) – an introduction was offered in the audio production process for the sound recording, film, television, and new media industries, in a professional recording studio.
- The Creative Experience from A to Z with Nycole Blanchette Création-Danse (St-Élie de Caxton) – visitors took part in learning a group choreographic piece under the direction of the artist. They learned about her creative approach, interpreted by various artists through multidisciplinary work. Visitors were invited to bring their own supper, join in a community evening, talk about the creative experience and stay as long as they liked.
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