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What are the issues and future of the cultural sector?

In Quebec, culture, leisure and entertainment are the sectors most affected by the pandemic. The repercussions of the crisis are not only economic: they will challenge the very future of artists.

As part of a one-on-one meeting, Emilio B. Imbriglio, the President and CEO of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, sat down for an interview with actress and President of the Union des artistes (UDA), Sophie Prégent, to discuss the upheavals affecting the Quebec cultural sector since the beginning of the pandemic. It is clear that the cultural sector will never be what it was before and that much thought about the future of the arts in Quebec will be needed. This conference discusses how the arts community has adapted to the new reality and how it envisions the future of the cultural milieu.

A sector hit hard by the pandemic

Confinement and curfew have interrupted many cultural and recreational activities. Despite the importance of this sector and the fact that these productions are highly sought after, thousands of artists have had to give up their work. The closure of cinemas and theaters, the interruption of concerts and filming in March forced thousands of people to stop working, leading many artists to lose their bearings and even reconsider their career choices.

“It’s not normal for performers to be unable to express themselves before an audience,” said Prégent, President of the Union des artistes.

With no way to earn a living, both experienced artists and newcomers to the profession have questioned themselves in the face of the uncertain future of their careers. As President of the UDA, Prégent has made several representations to governments to raise awareness of artists’ situations, find creative solutions and participate in the development of new ways of working in the context of the pandemic.

The UDA has 13,000 artists and brings together performers from the audiovisual world (film, television, advertising, dubbing), and the performing arts (song, lyric, comedy, circus, theater, dance). In addition to supporting its members, the UDA quickly forged strategic alliances with other organizations working in the cultural milieu in order to become stronger together to overcome the challenges of the pandemic.

The artistic milieu: A reflection of society

Artists play a societal role in our community, as they are often spokespersons for social injustices and precursors of major social movements. They are influential and true vectors of social change.

One of Prégent’s main concerns since she became President of the UDA is diversity and inclusion. At the UDA, the Mosaïque committee was created to raise issues about diversity.

As Prégent explains: “There are all kinds of diversity: there’s visible diversity on the screen, there’s also audible diversity, such as people who speak French with an accent. They’re not very present on television, we don’t see or hear them. That said, there is much more diversity on the screen these days.”

“The growing role of digital technology in the way we consume music, television and film is a danger to the francophone culture. Because the music, TV and movies that we create reflect who we are, like a mirror, they bring us together, convey our values, and help us evolve as a society. With digital technology, this mirror is getting smaller and may be reduced to such a point that it will be difficult for us to recognize ourselves in it.”

Watch this interview with Ms. Prégent.

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