Quebec artists demand more provincial funding, say many struggle to ‘work creatively’

Click to play video: 'Artists rally in Montreal, urge Quebec government to invest in arts and culture'
Artists rally in Montreal, urge Quebec government to invest in arts and culture
WATCH: Artists and others working in the arts community gathered Thursday in Montreal, in front of Quebec’s culture minister’s office. They want more money and claim that current funding is too low, jeopardizing the future or arts and culture in the province. Global’s Matilda Cerone reports. – Apr 18, 2024

Artists and cultural workers gathered on Thursday in front of the office of Quebec’s culture minister Mathieu Lacombe in Montreal.

The province’s arts and cultural community is protesting Quebec’s latest budget, saying there is too little funding, leaving them “angry, confused and exhausted.”

The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec which supports the arts, had its budget cut by close to a million dollars, receiving $160 million for 2024-2025.

However, advocates argue $260 million is needed to keep the sector afloat. They insist that with inflation, rising production costs and shrinking audiences, many artists are struggling to keep up with the cost of living. Artists in Canada typically make $17,300 a year, 56% less than the average wage, according to 2016 statistics.

“I’ve always loved being self-employed and working on lots of different projects,” said dancer Jamie Wright. “But when each project is paying less and less, you don’t have that many hours in a day to be imaginative and to work creatively.”

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Critics say that the amount allocated to the arts from the CAQ government is at odds with its goal to preserve and celebrate Quebec’s culture.

Opposition MNA Ruba Ghazal was present to stand in solidarity with the artists. “A lot of time we say that we are proud to be Quebecers, but what does that mean if there aren’t artists to say what is this Quebecer identity?” she asked.

Protesters were asked to dress in black to represent the many projects that will not see the light of day due to lack of funding.

Global News requested a statement from the Ministry of Culture but did not hear back by deadline.

Organizers say this is the first of a series of protests.

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