Funding for the performing arts | Cry from the heart of the artists of Vernon Subutex

Since Tuesday, performances of the play Vernon Subutex at Usine C end differently than what the theater has accustomed us to: the show team delivers a plea for more funding for the performing arts. And invites the public night after evening to invade the stage to show their support.

“Due to a lack of funding, this show was almost canceled,” said actress Violette Chauveau from the outset on Tuesday evening. You should know that the theater company behind Vernon Subutex, La Fabrik, was refused the financial support requested from the Canada Council for the Arts. And this, despite the great public and critical success garnered after the presentation of part 1 of this trilogy in 2022.

Despite everything, Angela Konrad and her team decided to move forward with the project. How ? “By not indexing artists’ and craftsmen’s fees to inflation, by dividing rehearsal time in two, by canceling a rerun planned for the fall, by cutting designers’ budgets, by reducing the team of management, by renouncing the initial artistic vision of the adaptation and by reworking the concept of the staging. It was the only way to achieve this feat,” we can hear in the text read by Violette Chauveau, that The Press obtained.

However, this way of doing things cannot continue, believes Angela Konrad, artistic and general director of Usine C – and director of Vernon Subutex. “We can no longer sacrifice ourselves like this. We are digging our own grave. We do not want to become the gravediggers of our art. »


The interpreter Violette Chauveau

The actress Violette Chauveau in her plea

Angela Konrad orchestrated this speech, which will be repeated until the end of the performances of the play at Usine C, in the hope of “raising public awareness of the situation of artists who practice the performing arts”.

“In Quebec, the precariousness of artists is rampant. Artists can no longer make a living from theater. »

However, to inform the public of the difficulties the sector is going through and the reality of the artists, Angela Konrad wanted the action to start from the stage. “It is there, in theaters, that our words have the most impact. »

A “catastrophic” budget

The latest budget from Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard was received like a cold shower by the theater community. The latter hoped to see the financial support provided during the pandemic be sustained. The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) instead lost $21.5 million in credits for its various programs. Its general budget also fell from 193.5 million in 2023-2024 to 171 million for 2024-2025.


Director Angela Konrad, in June 2022, in the setting of Vernon Subutex

The Conseil québécois du théâtre reacted by speaking of a missed meeting, saying it was concerned about the impacts of this budget on artists, creators and other artisans in the field. Angela Konrad, for her part, evokes “a catastrophic budget” which is paving the way for “a dismantling of culture in Quebec”.

Dismantling culture in the form of chronic underfunding and lack of vision for a culture of social cohesion amounts to deconstructing the foundations of democracy and paving the way for extremism in all its forms.

Director Angela Konrad, in the show program

Ministers arrested

This event was designed to go beyond the walls of Usine C. Each evening of the performance, a photo of the audience and the actors gathered on stage will be taken. The photo will each time be sent to the offices of Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and Mathieu Lacombe, Minister of Culture and Communications in Quebec.

In addition to this speech at Usine C, several spontaneous gestures have taken place since the budget was submitted. On March 27, during World Theater Day, the artistic directors of 11 theaters in Montreal and Quebec read a text to ask for an “adequate budgetary readjustment” for the sector.

In mid-April, after the performance of the play The crossing of the century inspired by the work of Michel Tremblay, director Alice Ronfard also took the floor to say that a show of this scale, which also takes place in several theaters in Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec, would be impossible to be achieved under current conditions.

A first Major Demonstration for the arts also took place on April 18 in front of the Montreal offices of Minister Mathieu Lacombe. Another is planned for May 16, still rue De Bleury.


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