Together with the founders of the #PourLesArtsVivants movement, Martin Faucher, Ginette Noiseux, Anne Trudel, Brigitte Haentjens, Stéphanie Jasmin, Denis Marleau, Claude Poissant, Sylvain Bélanger, and Olivier Kemeid, on June 3 Mélanie Demers met with the Minister of Culture and Communications, Nathalie Roy.
Read her contribution and the reactions in the media to the plan to relaunch Québec’s cultural sector.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mélanie Demers. I am a choreographer, a performer, and the artistic director of MAYDAY, a contemporary dance company.
I’m speaking on my own behalf but I hope that my voice can serve to represent the voices of my colleagues in the vast dance community.
Dance has its own particular characteristics. First off, it is an art whose instrument is the human body. That makes it an art that thrives on intimacy, proximity, promiscuity. Privileges that we have lost in the midst of the current crisis. Physical distancing measures restrict original dance and by their very nature prevent certain forms of dance from even existing.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Québec dance ecosystem is mostly made up of small or medium-sized organizations where in addition to their main function artistic directors have to take on the roles of administrators, producers, designers, and employers. The community is structured in such a way that dance artists (choreographers, dancers, technicians, designers, dramaturges, teachers) have to cobble together an array of contracts in order to earn a half-decent living.
The current health crisis has now put a stop to this type of freelancing. The pandemic has revealed just how fragmented our lives are and has shed light on the precarious balancing act which artists must maintain in order to deal with the piecemeal nature of their income. So, pending the reorganization of our research, creation, production, and, eventually, performance calendars, we are asking for a safety net which will allow our work to gradually resume while making sure artists can take their health, safety, and physical, mental, and artistic condition into account. Without a safety net, you risk losing 30-40 years of dance expertise in one year of crisis. Expertise which has brought Québec culture to stages around the world, and which has found markets and audiences abroad that local demand will have difficulty making up for.
Of course, we will have to rise from the ashes. But our quality of life and the quality of our work will not improve by responding to calls for projects that draw us back into modes of artistic creation defined by a competitive and productivist mentality.