Artists taken aback by the blind spots of When art takes the air

Designed in full containment in the spring of 2020 to directly help Montreal artists, the When art takes the air program, of the Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM), continues a year later to have blind spots that insecure participating artists. . Some learned as a “bad surprise” when accepting their project that they also had to become broadcasters-producers, and themselves find private places to play or exhibit themselves if they wanted to receive the requested funding.

The call for artistic projects for 2021 launched by the CAM was clear: “The selected projects must be autonomous, self-produced and take place between June 24 and December 31, 2021. They will be paired with a maximum of three non-traditional presentation venues targeted by municipal broadcasters, such as ” a private or public outdoor space or in a shop window overlooking the outside. “

However, of the 84 projects supported this year, 29 are carried out in private places. These were not matched with venues as promised, and the artists had to become, contrary to what had been announced, broadcasters-producers. They had to find the place, negotiate agreements, frame the context of performances. For some of these projects, the artists were happy to take up the challenge, as stated by Hugo Couturier, director of communications at CAM.

For others, including The duty gathered the testimony, this additional load appeared as “a bad surprise” in “an already very difficult year”. These artists agreed to share their experience confidentially, for fear that their later chances of being supported by the CAM would diminish.

Among the examples collected, one of these artists explains having learned on June 10 that he had to find two venues before the deadline of July 31 set by the CAM. A very short timeframe, and in the summer, and in a pandemic. Another artist reported a confusion when he wanted to inquire about the cancellation conditions due to heatwaves: even if he was technically a broadcaster, the CAM replied that the cancellation policy fell under the “host place of diffusion “.

Reviews and adaptation

Downsides which surprised the CAM itself. “We are starting to receive end-of-program reports, and this is extremely positive in the majority of feedbacks », Specified the director of territorial initiatives and customer services, Paule Beaudry. Seven end-of-project reports by the artists had been received at the time of this writing. CAM cited examples of glowing comments, but The duty did not have access to the full reports. Funding for artists, said Mme Beaudry, was “extremely generous and took into account the level of difficulty of presentation. “

For the 29 projects carried out in private places, the vast majority saw the requested financial assistance increased by 15% to compensate for the procedures with private partners. Thirteen projects are carried out in a hybrid fashion, with representations to municipal partners and others to private partners.

In 2021, for the second year of When art takes the air, “with experience, we said to ourselves that we were going to work more with municipal broadcasters. [qu’en 2019], explains Mme Beaudry. We limited the number of performances to three [par projet artistique] with adequate funding depending on the level of difficulty of the projects. There was the selection committee which recommended a number of projects. At the stage of choice by the presenters, they did not have the capacity to take all of the recommendations made by the committee. ” Why ? Had we accepted too many projects, to help the artists, for what was achievable? “No”, answers Mme Beaudry.

“For a year, we have adapted, we listen, we do not want to be rigid in the measures that we put in place, she continues. It has very good sides. And sometimes that means that there are blind spots that we do not see coming: in the choices that remained, not selected for lack of space, there were artists who had indicated that they did not need to ” be broadcast by municipal broadcasters who had already identified private places to present. But perhaps there has been an underestimation of certain approaches. “

Fuzzy agreements

Later in the conversation, Mme Beaudry returned “to the situation where the choice was to only retain projects capable of being paired with presenters and abandoning the others. We decided to honor our commitment as it was made in the program, by offering others to find private places to perform their show and receive their funding. In this goodwill, perhaps we did not understand that it was harder for certain organizations and artists to negotiate … But are you telling me that the agreements were difficult to negotiate with the broadcasters? “

Certain agreements, according to information gathered by The duty, were made only verbally, leaving some vagueness about the professional context of the performances, the possibilities of cancellation and the responsibilities of the different parties. “OK, sighs Mme Beaudry. I hear. Of course, if necessary, we will adjust. And we made a mistake: the letter of acceptance we sent has no nuance. She should have had a lot more, I agree. “

In 2021, the budget of $ 800,000 for the When art takes the air program supported 41 artistic organizations, 29 collectives and 14 artists. 285 projects were proposed this year. Two hundred and twenty performances will be given – they can still run until the end of the year – 133 in public places and 87 in private places.

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