Several hundred of them spontaneously responded to Martin Faucher’s call to meet at Place des Festivals in Montreal on Monday noon, preferably masked and two meters away
Comedians, singers, dancers, choreographers, directors, producers, lighting designers, costume designers, props, sound designers, directors of companies or festivals, they were there, without drum or trumpet, to see themselves, to be seen, but also to reveal their great financial insecurity, while the Canadian Emergency Benefit (CHP) could be extended and that production prospects remain almost nil (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged on Monday to find a way to extend the benefit period).
Of course, Quebec’s director of public health, Horacio Arruda, announced earlier that gatherings of 50 or more people would be allowed inside from June 22.
Only 50 people remain, that is very little to fill a room and make a dance performance or a play profitable. And also you must have had the time to run a show before presenting it.
It was after attending a meeting on Zoom last week with the Regroupement québécois de la danse, and having felt the loneliness of the artists, that Martin Faucher, also co-director of the Festival TransAmériques, decided to organize this gathering .
“I saw real distress in these people, each isolated at home,” he says. It hurt me and I realized that we are such a vast and diverse environment, with nuances of organization. I thought to myself: we have to come together just to be with each other. “
Mr. Faucher therefore proposes on his Facebook thread to artists who wish to gather, on a Place des Festivals surprisingly silent at the start of this summer, when the Montreal Francos should have been in full swing there.
“It pains me that theater artists do not do their job, cannot be paid, says Martin Faucher. We don’t know what will happen with the canceled contracts, in theater and dance. “
At the beginning, the PKU was only offered for a period of four months, so that for those who took advantage of it from the start of containment in mid-March, it ended. However, canceled contracts will not come back by a miracle, particularly if no repeat has been possible for three months.
Artists, the majority of whom are self-employed, therefore do not know what awaits them.
Amylie Poirier studies music at UQAM, but also has a company that organizes tailor-made events in the private sector.
“Personally, I lost $ 10,000 in contracts this year. We don’t know what will happen next. I do not know what my baccalaureate will be worth after, if we can no longer do shows on stage, be in contact with humans, because that is our job, “says this mother whose spouse is working also in music.
José Flores studied at the Montreal School of Contemporary Dance before working as a freelance dancer and co-founding the group Corpus Collective. “I lost all my contracts, I was booked until October and everything was canceled. So the stress of knowing if all this will start again is present every day. I continued to teach a little bit online, but it’s not the same thing. I did not choose this job to do it online. “
Actress Louise Latraverse participated in the demonstration, even if she is a person “very at risk”, she says. “I am here out of solidarity. I am affected because there is a series I had to do this summer. But I am an old lady who made her career. It’s for young people that you have to worry. We have to come back to the theater, ”she says.
Martin Faucher believes that the government has acted well by banning gatherings. “But to get things going, to get the performing arts going,” is something else, he says. The director also believes that it is institutions, such as theaters, which must be better funded, since it is they who are in contact with the ecosystem of artists.
Jacinthe Racine, co-artistic director of the young company L’interacteur Théâtre-Lumière, founded three years ago, is part of this succession with an uncertain future. “I lost contracts with the shovel, I no longer have contracts. I had to tour all spring and summer, a lot in puppet theater and circus. “
In the meantime, the young woman started to look for another job.
“I may rent kayaks, but it is still very precarious, and it is far from my specialty. I go from a professional salary, 20 or 25 dollars an hour, to the minimum wage to rent kayaks. “