The greatly anticipated 7th edition of Chromatic Festival is finally underway this weekend! As part of the Festival Chromatic, artists from Montreal, Toronto, and around the world are showcased to celebrate the city’s privileged relationship with the arts and a vibrant culture. The high point of the festival will take place at Hangar 16 in Montreal’s charming old port. An extensive art exhibition will transform the locale into a cultural shrine (read a review of exhibit here). This year’s edition of the festival augments previous ones with a symposium entitled Chromatic Pro, which is co-hosted by Chromatic and MassivArt. This unique seminar will be unraveling at the Centre Phi from the 19th to the 21th of May.
The main thematic of the first iteration of Chromatic Pro will revolve around how the culture industry constitutes a full fledged economy in Montreal. In 2008 , the cultural sector provided 100 000 jobs in the metropolis, and contributed to 6% of the city’s GDP – comprising a larger chunk than most individual industrial sectors, such as the well known aerospace industry. With a 4.6 % yearly growth it is nearly triple that of the industrial average. Of course the cultural sector has its own set of shortcomings. While the average yearly salary for jobs pertaining to culture and the arts is just under the industrial average at CAD 44 000 (vs. average of CAD 48 500), artists, authors and performers’ salaries stand at a measly CAD 24 400. This represents some of the lowest salaries of the job market for a cast of individuals who are tasked with incredibly demanding work from a creative point of view. Is this fair, given that their hard work makes life more bearable for the rest of us? Can this cliché of the struggling artist not be reformed to a more humane condition? To shed light on this often misrepresented industry, Chromatic Pro is inviting some 42 speakers — ranging from artists and entrepreneurs to active actors in the cultural sphere — to speak over the three-day event.
Throughout the first day of the symposium, the atmosphere was laid-back and intimate, encouraging cultural discussions of all kinds, and enabling participants of all ages and backgrounds to meet a plethora of important cultural players from Montreal and France. The program starts at 8:00 am with an informal breakfast, where copious amounts of coffee and tea are provided to fuel the presenters and participants through a day of workshops, conferences, and interviews. Participants can then chose between various overlapping activities, designed to appeal to all types of interests of the attendees (see the Chromatic Pro program here). The day then finishes with a casual aperitif, giving a chance to those present to discuss some of the high points of the day, or simply to wind down and enjoy the musical performances. Throughout the first day of the event, an term frequently repeated was that of great resonance was “cultural entrepreneurship,” embodied by the incredible and diverse set of speakers at the heart of major cultural organizations, including Piknic Électronik, Sid Lee, Nuits Sonores, Tetro, Moment Factory, Festival Trans Amériques, and Centerfold, among others. Indeed, if there is one thing to retain from these talks, it is that, while at first glance one would not expect artists and entrepreneurs to share so many traits, in fact both lie at the center of creativity and innovation. For the next few days, Montreal’s epicenter of cultural exchanges and insights can be found at the Centre Phi. See you at Chromatic Pro!