ELAN: Quebec's Anglo artists embrace out-of-sync identity
Any English speaker in
When the English Language Arts Network (ELAN) was founded in 2005, visibility and recognition for ‘Anglo’ artists was low despite a rich history, booming production and ever-increasing quality. A non-profit and artist-founded organization, ELAN’s primary motives of exposure and access have essentially become a delicate matter of navigating Quebec’s linguistic milieu to bring together, showcase and stimulate the production of Anglo art from all disciplines.
With Arcade Fire’s big wins at the Grammys and the Juno Awards and Paul Giamatti’s acceptance speech for Barney’s Version at the Golden Globes, among other triumphs,
I spoke with ELAN’s executive director, Guy Rodgers, whose enthusiasm for the arts scene in
Quebec’s cultural dynamism and the explosion of artistic talent over the last 20-25 years, no small part of which has been Anglophone in origin, have been cited by Rodgers and local artists alike as not only a product of the city’s linguistic diversity, but a viable catalyst for it. Still, as Rodgers notes, “the big problem, the elephant in the room, is whether or not a vibrant Anglo scene threatens Francophone culture.” That, he says, is where ELAN comes in and has a very important role to play with federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well of course, as the Quebec and Canadian public. ELAN’s daunting task, as such, is to convince sceptics that English language culture is not a threat.
Rodgers contends, “The real problem is that English language culture is an international juggernaut and a problem almost everywhere in the world. They’re in a serious competition with local culture almost everywhere.
Noting the benefits of Anglo artists working together as well as with others, in terms of building alliances, doing advocacy and lobbying work and, perhaps most importantly, networking, Rodgers’ intent is to unify a perhaps otherwise fragmented and marginalized Anglo art community while also furthering its integration into the Quebec community at large. The most popular event ELAN hosts is a monthly schmoozer, in which artists are invited to meet, greet, network and collaborate. “Just bringing people together and sharing ideas has been very positive for the community,” Rodgers says, seeming to speak of a community that is anything but exclusive or self-isolating. Rather than countering marginalization with self-seclusion, ELAN promotes an English language arts community that is indeed proud of its unique cultural heritage, yet consistently seeks collaboration outside a homogenous bubble.
In fact, ELAN-profiled artists like poet and writer Carmine Starnino, as well as Rodgers himself, cite
With the upcoming launch of an all new website for its now two year old project, RAEV.ca (Recognizing Artists, Enfin Visibles!), ELAN has compiled in depth profiles of 150 artists from a diverse array of backgrounds, artistic genres, styles and influences, as well as a variety of career stages and artists from different regions throughout Quebec. Kicking off a new interactive, user-uploaded mapping service that will use Google maps to show at a glance where English language artists and ELAN members are working, performing or exhibiting in
Launch Party: RAEV.ca & Culturealacarte.ca
March 31 | 6 to 10 p.m.
Eastern Bloc | 7240,