Festivals | Free entertainment for consenting adults

Is it one of the mandates of the State to pay for free entertainment to its citizens? The question arises especially as our governments struggle to fulfill their basic mandates such as education and health. Especially since those who attend the free shows at major festivals are the same as those who fill the restaurants.


Should we at the same time offer free admission in cinemas and even in these same restaurants? Obviously not. This is not the state’s mandate. Why then do we do it for major festivals?

Regional performance halls fill their seats with laughter and popular songs. They thus accumulate surpluses which they use to fulfill their other mission, which is to present theater, dance and classical music.

Why don’t the big festivals do the same? You will tell me: “Do we subsidize the Museum of Contemporary Art, the OSM and the TNM? » Correct, but we do it because they protect heritage; the visual arts for the first, the works of the classical repertoire for the other two which, if they are not performed, will be lost. They also participate in public education by explaining works, presenting lesser-known composers or putting on pieces by authors who make us question ourselves, confront us with our inconsistencies, and educate us. This is very different from presenting simple entertainment.

Another thing, it is not the festivals and their free aspects that have made the Quartier des spectacles what it is now, as some people would have us believe. During the Prohibition era, the neighborhood was filled with Americans who came to drink alcohol; Montreal was already a festive city in the 1930s. There were cinemas, cabarets, vaudeville theater in the 1940s and 1950s. It was the construction of Place des Arts in 1963 coupled with the opening of the TNM , to the erection of the Complexe Desjardins with its hundreds of jobs, the Gesù hall, the cinema library and so on, which have shaped the neighborhood as it is today.

Then the SAT, the Maison symphonique, two other rooms at Place des Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Palais des Congrès, art galleries, etc. were added. The big festivals have only added to all this. So much the better.

Without subsidies in Colombia

Finally, why offer free entertainment when in other countries we do it without subsidies? This is the case of the Paramo group in Bogota, Colombia. This group offers two dozen festivals, some of which are free. They are doing so well that they have just been purchased by Live Nation, the large multinational entertainment company which also owns the major festivals in Montreal.

So why should it be necessary in Quebec to subsidize free entertainment when in a country much less rich than Quebec we offer it for free without state support of any kind? If evenko/Live Nation bought a series of festivals, it was because it thought it would make money. Let him behave like a good corporate citizen and do as he does in Bogota by offering free entertainment to the citizens of Montreal. But he should not ask all citizens of Quebec to pay for that. So no, I don’t think providing free entertainment to its citizens is part of the state’s mandate.

What do you think ? Participate in the dialogue


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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