Artistic and cultural exchanges in the French-speaking world

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Alexandra Duchaine
Special collaboration March 18, 2023  Éartistic and cultural exchanges in the Francophonie

Photo: OFQJ A delegation of young people from the artistic milieu from Quebec and France at the 14th edition of the Dakar Biennale

This text is part of the special Francophonie section

For young artists and cultural workers, traveling abroad is an opportunity to gain some visibility, even to accumulate experiences and contacts, in addition to being a source of inspiration. Since March 2022, 739 enthusiasts have benefited from this professional boost thanks to the Offices jeunesse internationales du Québec (LOJIQ).

Joséphine Rivard traveled to Senegal in May 2022 to attend the Biennial of Contemporary African Art in Dakar. “It was such a marathon, we were running the shows to see as many as possible! she explains, thrilled at the mention of this stay.

In addition to the cultural shock linked to the baptism of the African continent, this experience allowed the exhibition curator to develop a vision of multiple art, which necessarily colors her museum activities carried out independently.

“ I would have a hard time generalizing, so much did I see materials and words of all kinds, but I felt a lot of vitality in African art, a desire to raise one's voice, to assert oneself in eyes of the world, because, let's face it, the industry is more focused on what is done in the West,” she puts forward.

The provincial government organization LOJIQ, under the authority of the Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, Martine Biron, offers up-and-coming artists turnkey training events abroad (especially in French-speaking states), like the one in which Joséphine Rivard took part.

At the Office franco-québécois pour la jeunesse (OFQJ), one of the components of LOJIQ, civil servants from France and Quebec work closely together to suggest varied stays that promote networking among young people from the two territories. Thus, for more than ten years, actors, directors and other stage lovers have been able, for example, to travel to Nantes for the Biennales internationales du spectacle. Candidates obtain coverage of costs related to travel, accommodation, activities, and reimbursement of some expenses.

Creators and players in the field of culture also have the opportunity to submit their own international project to LOJIQ in order to get their hands on this funding. “Historically, we've been in high demand musically, especially from singer-songwriters,” says Sara De Luca, Career Development Program Coordinator.

“There are a lot of new hip-hop groups, a little less mainstream style, who want to go to France, because the market there is very developed, there is a good audience. They are going to do tours, residencies, recordings,” she continues.

LOJIQ also gets a lot of requests from street dance dancers.wishing to improve in France. Visual art enthusiasts are also showing up in large numbers, as major events, such as the International Biennial of Crafts and Creation and the International Symposium of Electronic Arts, will be held in Paris in 2023. Quebec will also be in the spotlight in the context of these two events.

If LOJIQ supports cultural workers, they submit fewer requests, perhaps through ignorance of the program. “I worked in culture for years and I didn't know I was eligible,” illustrates Sara De Luca.

Supporting emerging communities

< p>To obtain funding for a mobility project, whether it is a professional meeting, a prospecting trip, a writing residency, participants must be between the ages of 18 and 35 and aim for a career in culture. The artistic quality of their production is not analysed, only the consistency of their plan with their journey.

“Of the people we support, 99% are emerging”, notes Sara De Luca. Last year, LOJIQ offered its competition to Thierry Larose, whose pop music has since gained notoriety; in June 2023, it will be part of the Francofolies program.

“There is a gap between students, who have a lot of funding, and artists who are a little more advanced in the profession who can benefit from grants from the Conseil des arts or the Société de développement des entreprises culturelle (SODEC). We're here to help them,” says Sara De Luca.

LOJIQ pays for travel expenses, without offering a fee, she says. On the other hand, the public body urges theaters, museums and other collaborators that sums be remitted. “They are not always up to Union des artistes (UDA) standards, unfortunately. We haven't gotten there yet.

The pandemic would however have had children. “The partners are listening, they understand the importance of young artists, the fact that they must be compensated fairly”, adds Sara De Luca.

This special content was produced by the Devoir Special Publications Marketing Team. The editorial staff of Devoir did not take part.