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Culture : at the Heart of the Québec Identity

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the gouvernement du Québec does not recommend making any reservations or travel plans abroad until further notice.

However, the gouvernement du Québec continues to support the circulation of works without the physical movement of people, and the online presence of Québecer artists through several cultural projects and initiatives.

True to its roots while at the same time looking to the future, Québec culture has a je-ne-sais-quoi 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, the boldness and talent of its creators, and the vitality of its artistic and literary environment are just a few of the reasons to discover Québec’s cultural life.

Click here to find out more.

An exuberant environment

There are over 400 cultural events and festivals of all kinds taking place across Québec each year, many of which are world renowned. These events and festivals attract crowds from across the country and beyond.

These events, concerts and shows offer visitors a taste of Québec culture while discovering its innumerable facets.

Montréal: a cultural metropolis

Montréal loves to showcase 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. A hub for emerging artists, Montréal was designated a UNESCO City of design and forms part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

The city also stands out as a major international creative hub, particularly in contemporary dance and digital arts.

Québec City: creative and dynamic

Québec City is considered the cradle of French civilization in North America and is renowned for its exceptional cultural vitality. The city harbours 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.

On October 31, 2017, Québec was designated a City of Literature by UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network—the first French-speaking city to earn this distinction.

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 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Festival MIX Milano, the Tokyo Performing Arts Meeting, the Performing Arts Market in Seoul, MaMa in Paris, the Berlin Poetry Festival, the Festival Francofaune in Brussels, the Filmfest Dresde and FIMPRO in Guadalajara are among the festivals that have featured Québec prominently in their programming.

Would you like to showcase Québec artists at your events? Contact the cultural attachés at the gouvernement du Québec’s foreign offices or visit the “Staff” section on the web page of the gouvernement du Québec 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 gouvernement du Québec 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 the gouvernement du Québec’s foreign offices or visit the “Staff” section on the web page of the gouvernement du Québec 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.

The discoverability of cultural content

The incredible amount of online content calls for approaches that will make it easier to find cultural content online. This is why Québec and France have joined forces to develop a discoverability strategy for francophone cultural content with an international reach and implement an innovative and exemplary framework, notably in French-speaking regions.

Through this strategy, Québec seeks to afford artists and cultural organizations a more prominent and visible presence and positioning in international digital markets. Contact the cultural attachés at gouvernement du Québec’s foreign offices for more information on digital broadcasting options or to communicate any of your initiatives or projects.

For more information on the discoverability of online Francophone cultural content, click here.

TV5: an international showcase for Francophone content

Québec has developed over the course of the last 30 years a very active partnership with the governments of France, the Wallonia-Brussel Federation, Switzerland and Canada. Thanks to the digital platform TV5MONDE which broadcasts nine regional channels, two special-interest channels managed from Paris by TV5 Monde and a Canadian signal managed by TV5 Québec Canada, TV5 offers Québec an international showcase and promotional tool to broadcast its television productions in over 198 countries.

Architecture and Design

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, and who was awarded the Prix Gérard-Morisset in 1994.

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 gouvernement du 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.

Sophie Bienvenu, Martine Delvaux, India Desjardins, David Goudreault, Marie Laberge, Dany Laferrière, Kim Thúy, Michel Tremblay, Jocelyne Saucier, Christian Guay-Poliquin, Dominique Fortier and Patrick Sénécal are just a few examples of renowed Québec authors.

Young and adult readers, both here and abroad, 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 Indigenous presence, Québec has an incredible wealth of historical and cultural heritage that it safeguards, promotes and showcases through various initiatives and an extensive network of museums.

A dynamic museum network

One of the many ways to discover Québec’s museums is visit the Québec Museum Society’s Museum Guide.

Close to 450 museums across Québec play a vital role in cultural life. In fact, since 2018, Québec residents have free access to museums across the province on the first Sunday of each month. The purpose of this initiative is to promote the cultural richness on display in museums in Québec and make exhibits more accessible.

These venues promote art, history and science and have contributed to building 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.

Internationally renowned museology

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 national and international markets.

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 Germaine Guèvremont’s novel Le Survenant, 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 standout 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 such as 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 pays tribute to this discipline.

Theatre

Québec theatre is celebrated across the globe, not only for the calibre of the script writing but also for its fine stage directors and actors. It never ceases to delight audiences with the way plots are developed and treated but also by the way new technologies are leveraged in spectacles. Theatre for young audiences and puppet shows are also well engrained in Québec’s cultural fabric since the 20th century.

Québec-born talent

Robert Lepage, Suzanne Lebeau, Michel Marc Bouchard, Larry Tremblay, Carole Fréchette, Michel Tremblay, Andrée Laliberté and Wajdi Mouawad are just a few names that illustrate the breadth of Québec talent issued from the theatre community. Thanks to the talent of these artists, Québec theatre is front and centre in countries across the globe, such as 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 internationally renowned conductor Rafael Payare.

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, have conquered international audiences and have performed at some of 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, Leonard Cohen, Robert Charlebois and Arcade Fire are among the outstanding names in Québec contemporary music.

In fact, many Québec artists are recognized nationally and internationally. Cœur de Pirate, Charlotte Cardin, Pierre Lapointe, Ariane Moffatt, Les Louanges and Half Moon Run are just a few 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

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, 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.

The effervescent network of museums, art galleries and universities in Montréal and Québec City has positioned these two cities as top creative destinations in North America for visual artists from all disciplines.

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 such as 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, Manuel Mathieu 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 gouvernement du Québec's mission since the 1960s.

As a result of the Art and Architecture Integration Policy (French only), over 4,000 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, boldness 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.

100% Québec-made films

  • The Legend of Sarila by Nancy Florence Savard;
  • The Rooster of St-Victor by Pierre Greco;
  • Snowtime! by François Brisson and Jean-François Pouliot;
  • Ballerina by Éric Summer and Éric Warin.

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 an array of stellar outdoor filming locations that can conjure present-day America, old Europe, natural landscape and cityscapes. 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, Arrival, Life of Pi and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button benefited from the cinematic assets Québec has to offer.

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