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Culture : at the Heart of the Québec Identity

True to its roots while at the same time looking to the future, Québec culture has that unidentifiable something that makes it both unique and universal. Its dynamic expression is evident in many sectors: performing arts, visual arts, literature, film, television, digital arts and museology.

The originality and quality of Québec’s productions, boldness and talent of its creators, and vitality of its artistic and literary environment are all great reasons to discover Québec’s cultural life.

An incredibly exciting environment

There are over 400 cultural events and festivals of all kinds each year throughout Québec. Many of them are world renowned. The events and festivals attract crowds from everywhere in the country and beyond.

This extensive diversity of events, concerts and shows provides visitors with an overview of Québec culture and allows them to delve into its myriad facets.

Montréal: a cultural metropolis

« Montréal has the cultural liveliness of big cities and a human side that makes it a welcoming city like no other. »
(Yann Perreau, singer-songwriter-composer)

Montréal loves to reveal its rich diversity, creativity, pioneering spirit, cultural effervescence and undeniable openness to the world. One of its many cultural features is the multitude of renowned international festivals it hosts.

Montréal is a unique venue for emerging artistic talent and, as a City of Design, is part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. It will be celebrating its 375th anniversary in 2017. The city also stands out as a major international creative hub, particularly in contemporary dance and digital arts. Montréal’s 375th anniversary celebrations will take place from December 21, 2016, to December 31, 2017.

Québec City: creative and dynamic

« In the city where I was born, the past carries the present like a child on its shoulders. »
(Robert Lepage, director and playwright)

As the cradle of French civilization in North America, Québec City is renowned for its exceptional cultural vitality. Within its walls are scores of creators, places of interest and major activities, not to mention numerous arts and cultural organizations. In establishing its Première Ovation art program, Québec City has created an effective tool to help talented young artists get started.

In 1985, UNESCO declared the city’s historic district a world heritage site. It goes without saying that Québec City is unique in countless ways. The city’s many historic buildings form an enchanting setting that is well worth discovering.

Regions that beckon

Québec’s numerous regions set themselves apart through their remarkable cultural vitality. They all contribute in their own way to Québec’s beckoning allure. An array of events take place throughout the province, highlighting various sectors of Québec culture.

Travelling through Québec’s contrasting regions is the perfect way to discover incredible landscapes and learn about the distinct cultural features of each location.

Experience and Enjoy Québec Culture

Québec’s artistic companies and artists travel to the four corners of the world to exhibit their creativity. The Festival Internacional de Cine in Guadalajara, the LIBER International Book Fair in Barcelona, the Méli’môme Festival in Reims and the Bozar Electronic Arts Festival in Brussels are among the festivals that have featured Québec prominently in their programming.

Would you like to present Québec artists or companies at your events? Contact the cultural attachés (French only) at Québec’s government offices abroad or visit the “Staff” section on the web page of the Québec government office in your area.

And be sure to visit the “Events” section to find out which artists will be performing near you!

Go for Québec creativity!

The Québec government provides financial assistance for hosting foreign broadcasters, programmers and journalists during Québec festivals and events in all cultural fields. Every effort is made to increase the outreach of organizations and their productions in markets outside Québec.

For more information, contact the cultural attachés at Québec’s government offices abroad or visit the “Staff” section on the web page of the Québec government office in your area.

Artist residencies: Come create in Québec!

Several residencies in a number of artistic disciplines are available to foreign artists in Québec. They provide an incredible opportunity to develop new networks, stimulate creativity and forge new ties.

Residency programs are offered by several arts organizations in Québec and by the Québec Council for Arts and Letters (CALQ).

Artists from outside Québec who are interested in applying for a residency should contact agencies in their countries for information about the terms and conditions of the programs.

Architecture and Design

“I believe it is essential to continually spark the desire for knowledge, a love of built and natural heritage.”
Phyllis Lambert, architect (Continuité magazine, no. 134, fall 2012)

The built landscape of cities and towns in Québec reveals its French and Anglo-Saxon traditions. Its modernity is rooted in its North American context combined with its myriad sources of architectural influences and expertise.

From the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Hotel in Québec City to Montréal’s industrial districts that have been recycled into artists’ studios and apartments, Québec’s architectural scene is incredibly vibrant.

Great names in architecture

Visionary and renowned architects foster the enhancement, preservation and growth of architecture in Québec. A prime example is Phyllis Lambert, who founded Heritage Montréal and the Canadian Centre for Architecture, an international centre for outreach and research in the field.

The work of Dinu Bumbaru, Jean-Claude Marsan, Pierre Thibault and Dan Hanganu, to name but a few, has had major impacts on contemporary architecture.

Design: Bold undertakings

Did you know that Montréal was designated a UNESCO City of Design in 2006?

Québec-based businesses and creators are true space shapers that transform the environment in which Quebecers live. Examples include the bold undertakings of pioneer Jacques Guillon, who created the logo for the Montréal metro, and Michel Dallaire, who designed the Olympic torch for the Montréal Olympic Games and the interior furnishings for the Grande Bibliothèque.

The Samuel-de-Champlain Promenade is a major and lasting legacy given by the Government of Québec to Québec City on the occasion of its 400th anniversary. The promenade runs along the St. Lawrence River and is a veritable oasis in the heart of the city.

Literature

Socially engaged, romanticized, poetic, migrant, fictional, hyper realistic, prolific, introspective, resplendent, brimming with images: Québec literature strikes a chord with readers and is an emblem of Québec identity that speaks to the quality of the French language and its universality.

Young and adult readers, both here and elsewhere, continually discover works that inspire them to embark on unique and emotionally charged imaginary journeys.

Museology and Heritage

With over four hundred years of European presence and thousands of years of Aboriginal presence, Québec has a significant historical and cultural heritage to highlight through various protection and promotion initiatives and an extensive network of museums.

A dynamic museum network

One of the many ways to discover Québec’s museums is to go on one of the 70 thematic tours offered by the Québec Museum Society.

Close to 450 museums across Québec play a vital role in cultural life. As venues for promoting art, history and science, they have built Québec’s international reputation in museology. The Museum of Civilization, National Museum of Fine Arts of Québec and the Montréal Museum of Contemporary Art are shining examples.

Museology that makes the rounds

The expertise and vitality of Québec’s museums are recognized around the world.

They collaborate with major international institutions through such initiatives as art lending and co-productions. Québec’s museums regularly host international exhibitions in addition to creating or contributing to the creation of original exhibitions bound for markets outside Québec.

Québec’s legacy: our collective heritage

The duty to remember is a motto that allows Québec to perpetuate its collective heritage. As a result of the Cultural Heritage Act, movable and immovable property, cultural landscapes, intangible heritage as well as persons, events, and places of historical significance can be registered in Québec’s Cultural Heritage Directory.

As a result, the impressive practice of ice canoeing on the St. Lawrence River, katajjaq (the magnificent throat singing of the Inuit in Nunavik), and the legendary Félix Leclerc have been forever engraved in Québec’s collective identity.

Performing Arts

Dance, circus arts, theatre, music, song – Québec’s creators and artists know how to attract the spotlight through the power and originality of their creative works and their talent as performers.

Dance

Québec contemporary dance is a bold and wonderful cultural ambassador that dazzles for its ground-breaking originality combined with its gestural and aesthetic versatility. Over the decades, Québec’s contemporary dance scene has gained increasing acclaim and developed several international exchanges involving residencies, workshops, laboratories and co-productions.

Circus arts

At Tohu in the heart of Montréal’s City of Circus Arts, superb circus performances are rehearsed and presented before going on tour around the world.

The absence of language barriers combined with Québec’s artistic and technical know-how foster the recognition of circus arts on all five continents. Companies like Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Éloize and The 7 Fingers create performances that are so poetically stunning that they consistently delight audiences of all ages.

The annual Montréal complètement cirque festival celebrates this discipline.

Theatre

Québec’s dramatic arts intrigue and attract artists, stage directors and audiences from many countries.

Robert Lepage, Suzanne Lebeau, Michel Marc Bouchard, Larry Tremblay, Carole Fréchette, Michel Tremblay and Wajdi Mouawad are a few examples that illustrate how the Québec theatre community can count on a wide variety of creators. Thanks to the talent of these artists, Québec theatre is front and centre in countries like Russia, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

Music

A number of national and international breakthroughs demonstrate and confirm the reputation of Québec’s music performers and organizations such as the Montréal Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Kent Nagano.

The Maison Symphonique de Montréal, a prestigious performance venue located in Montréal’s Quartier des Spectacles, sets the metropolis aglow with some of the greatest names in music. Many groups, such as the Violons du Roy, successfully reach international markets and perform at the world’s most famous theatres.

In terms of lyric art, Québec has an increasing number of ambassadors performing both traditional music and song on stages around the world.

Song

Céline Dion, Félix Leclerc, Diane Dufresne, Simple Plan, Robert Charlebois and Arcade Fire are among the outstanding names in Québec song.

Many Québec artists are recognized nationally and internationally. Les Cowboys Fringuants, Cœur de Pirate, Yann Perreau, Pierre Lapointe, Ariane Moffatt, Lisa Leblanc and Half Moon Run are names that come to mind.

Québec performers and songwriters reach their audiences through a variety of musical styles, ranging from pop to instrumental rock and folk.

Digital Arts

[...] we can no longer talk about artistic creation without there being a digital contribution somewhere.” Alain Thibault, Artistic Director, International Digital Arts Biennial

Many Québec artists and researchers in the music, literature, dance, architecture and design sectors are breaking down the barriers of formal languages and creating esthetic approaches that fuse art, science and technology.

The multiple facets of digital art

A multitude of creation and distribution centres, events and companies contribute to the vitality and prestige of the digital arts industry. A few examples:

  • The Société des arts technologiques (SAT), a flagship research and production organization, fosters exchanges between artistic and scientific fields;
  • The Elektra and Mutek festivals are digital arts standard bearers and are among the hundreds of activities organized in Montréal during Digital Spring;
  • Located in Québec City’s Méduse Coop, Avatar and Recto-Verso are both artists’ centres on the cutting edge of media-based and electronic processes;
  • Moment Factory is a world-class creative enterprise that dazzles through such creations as the light show it projected on the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

The Visual Arts

Artists of all disciplines are affiliated with associations, artists’ centres, specialized production centres and collective workshops. They practice their art and display it throughout Québec and abroad.

Showcasing creative works from here and beyond

Creativity needs fresh air to renew itself. At the same time, an increasingly informed public wants to be in contact with new expressions from here and beyond. The most renowned international visual arts events include:

High-profile artists

We’ve come a long way since the expatriate era when artists like Alfred Pellan, Paul-Émile Borduas and Jean-Paul Riopelle flocked to Paris. Today, artists travel the globe to show their work or stay in one of the many artists’ residences of the Québec Council for Arts and Letters (CALQ). Similarly, artists from around the world settle in Québec because of the vitality of its artistic community.

Artists who are particularly active internationally include:

David Altmejd, Raymonde April, Geneviève Cadieux, Raphaëlle de Groot, Pascal Grandmaison, Diane Landry and Marc Séguin.

Fine crafts

The talent of Québec’s artisan-creators is acclaimed and recognized, as evidenced by the numerous awards they have received outside Québec. At the crossroads of beauty and functionality, works created by Québec’s artisans blend innovation with tradition, and grace museum collections abroad.

Québec’s fine crafts community is composed of:

  • over 3,000 professional artists;
  • a training network comprising 14 school-workshops.

Artists who stand out both locally and internationally include ceramists Léopold Foulem and Gilbert Poissant, cutler Chantal Gilbert and jeweller Claudio Pino.

Public art

Bringing art into public spaces has been the Québec government’s goal since the 1960s.

As a result of the Art and Architecture Integration Policy (French only), over 3,000 works of art have been integrated into public spaces. These unique and original creations add beauty to the everyday lives of people and illustrate the plurality of approaches that defines contemporary art in Québec.

Film

Québec cinema is pushing the boundaries more than ever before through the quality of its films, excellence of its directors and diversity of its productions.

Québec directors are transforming the art of filmmaking into a true ode to creation. Names that especially come to mind are: Xavier Dolan, Denis Villeneuve, Denis Côté, Louise Archambault and Jean-Marc Vallée. By dint of their genius and passion, they transcend codes to provide us with exceptional cinematography.

Exemplary animated works

Frame by frame, idea by idea, from one technique to another, Québec’s animated film industry has evolved as a result of patient work, daring and inexhaustible creativity.

The legacy of great Québec filmmakers such as Norman McLaren and Frédéric Back continues to be reflected in the essence of animated feature films. Made entirely in Québec, The Legend of Sarila by Nancy Florence Savard and The Rooster of St-Victor by Pierre Greco are prime examples of Québec excellence and know-how.

A significant number of internationally recognized animation schools and studios operate in Québec and contribute to the development of the art of animated film.

An impressive array of film settings

Québec boasts outdoor film-shoot locations that reflect present-day America and old Europe in addition to nature settings and urban environments. Major production companies can rely on the expertise of several high calibre studios in Québec that are the envy of competitors on the international scene.

International productions such as X-Men, The Smurfs 2, Barney’s Version and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button benefited from the cinematic assets Québec has to offer.

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