Collectively, we are experiencing troubling, worrying, strange and unsettling times, each of us in their own way and to the best of their abilities.
For us, Les Filles électriques, financial loss hasn’t been drastic since our funding has been ensured by a handful of arts councils and for that we are deeply grateful. On the other hand, we were terribly worried for colleagues, artists, companies, festival organizers, technicians, designers, amongst others, who were dealt a new, harsh reality. And it breaks our hearts to think of all these productions, creations, projects, tours and dreams that may never again have the chance to exist. There is something irrevocably lost that will not come back. There is some grieving to be done.
It is our responsibility to make sure the 9th edition of Phenomena Festival happens in the most inventive, solidary and generous way possible. At the same time, given the current health crisis, it wouldn’t be wise to present our usual festive cabarets inside a small Sala Rossa where our audience members stand shoulder-to-shoulder. We shifted paradigm and changed gears towards the digital world. The challenge then became to propose pertinent choices to both the artists and our audience, all the while maintaining the integrity and artistic standards of the Festival.
I must admit I was quite critical of this pressure that was put on the arts community to “quickly reinvent itself through use of digital technology”. Phenomena has never waited for a pandemic to hit in order to reinvent itself and find new artistic pathways. Moreover, digital art is a medium in and of itself and the artists within the phenomenal family are primarily involved in the performing arts — they are not necessarily familiar with digital technology.
We rolled up our sleeves and transformed the restraints of this collective crisis into opportunity for supporting artists who want to experiment and broaden their scope. As you know, the artists presented at Phenomena Festival are interdisciplinary, atypical and alternative performers, of whom we see little of on the web. This is also an opportunity for audiences outside Montréal to discover an unconventional, extravagant and exuberant Festival with artists that are no less phenomenal.
Enjoy the Festival, the performances, the artistic discovery and don’t forget to…you-know-what!