May 17, 2017

Performing arts take the stage: 400 leaders from 185 cities and 40 countries gather in Montréal

Some 400 performing arts leaders from 185 cities in about 40 countries will converge on Québec from May 23 to 27 to take part in the 100th Congress of the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA). Place des Arts is hosting this 100th edition, which will feature, among other events, six sessions on the theme Identities, training for the next generation, performances, new-project presentations and awards ceremonies that will raise the visibility of Québec culture worldwide.


Speakers and guests

In total, 16 speakers and guests will address the congress. These performing arts professionals—from Brazil, Cambodia, Iceland, Chile, Singapore, the Netherlands and more—will tell participants about the experiences that forged their identities and the concerns they face today.


Panellists will include:

  • Michel Marc Bouchard, keynote speaker, will open the congress;
  • Jane Chu, Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (United States);
  • Aurea Vieira, Manager of International Affairs, SESC SP (Brazil);
  • Simon Brault, Director of the Canada Council for the Arts (Canada);
  • Ahmed Ali, Somali-born spoken-word poet, entertainer and educator (Canada);
  • Ása Richardsdóttir, Project Leader of Ice Hot Reykjavík 2018 (Iceland);
  • Henriëtte Post, General Director of the Performing Arts Fund NL (Netherlands);
  • Phloeun Prim, Executive Director of Cambodian Living Arts (Cambodia);
  • Elisapie Isaac, Inuk author, composer and interpreter who sings in English and in her mother tongue (Canada).




Here are a few suggestions for presentations and sessions


Tuesday, May 24, 1:30–2 p.m., at Cinquième Salle, Place des Arts

Playwright and screenwriter Michel Marc Bouchard, whose work is replete with questions of identity (Tom à la ferme, The Orphan Muses), will be keynote speaker, setting the tone for a congress that promises rich explorations.


Tuesday, May 24, 3 p.m., at Cinquième Salle, Place des Arts

SESSION 1 | Identity, Diversity and Creativity

Identity is rooted in our personal history and cultural background. It is also developed through our relationships with others, feeding from multiple influences and enriching itself through dialogue with others and openness to their differences. When identity is born out of diversity, it becomes an incredible catalyst for creativity, a key for reinventing the arts and redefining people’s lives. How does the blending of cultures find its expression in the day-to-day practice of artists?


Speakers | Ahmed Ali (spoken-word poet, entertainer and educator, Canada), Elisapie Isaac (artist, Canada), Charles Koroneho (Te Toki Haruru, New Zealand) Ÿ Moderator | Nolywé Delannon (Faculty of Business Administration, Université Laval, Canada)


Friday, May 26, 11 a.m., at Salle Bourgie, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts

SESSION 4 | Education, Outreach and Inclusion: Projects that Create Identity
Art adds value to the quality of our lives. Art calls the status quo into question and transforms society. How can we share this perspective with those who are skeptical of the value of art? Underserved populations and those who are excluded? How can we educate the youth about the benefits of arts and culture? How do we convey this richness to them? An invitation to discuss innovative practices in cultural mediation and outreach, social integration and education.


Speakers | Rebecca Leonard (circus artist, actor, creator and social circus instructor, Canada), Phloeun Prim (Cambodian Living Arts, Cambodia), Louise Sicuro (Chief Executive Officer, Culture pour tous)

Moderator | Aurea Vieira (SESC SP, Brazil)


Friday, May 26, 1:30 p.m., at Salle Bourgie, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts


SESSION 5 | Funding Models: Embracing Diversity and Identity

What will the future be made of? The arts sector and the world in general are in constant evolution. Now more than ever, the process of creation, production, distribution, and marketing of artistic works has been transformed. The plurality of viewpoints and identities is a pathway on the quest for meaning, as we aspire to live better together. What do decision-makers and funders think of all this? How do we include diversity in our various programs and policies, while taking into account the concerns of the artistic community?


Speakers | Simon Brault (Canada Council for the Arts, Canada) Jane Chu (National Endowment for the Arts, United States), Henriëtte Post (Performing Arts Fund NL, Netherlands) Moderator | Benson Puah, (Chief Executive Officer, Esplanade and National Arts Council, Singapor)

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Awards ceremonies

On May 26 at 3:45 p.m., three awards will be given to five people who have made their mark on the Canadian cultural landscape. The Distinguished Artist Award will be given to performers Margie Gillis, Robert Lepage and Kent Nagano. The International Citation of Merit will be given to the duo of Alain Simard and André Ménard. The third prize, the Angel Award, will be given to philanthropist Jacqueline Desmarais. This ceremony, which will highlight their significant contribution to the arts milieu, will be hosted by Patrick Masbourian.


Pitch New Works

Ten artistic companies’ projects were selected by a committee from a record number of 66 applications for the Pitch New Works session, presented on May 25 at 10 a.m. This presentation, hosted by Clothilde Cardinal, Place des Arts’ Director of Programming, will give audiences an exciting glimpse of new trends in artistic creation that are developing within Canada and all over the world. To learn about the selected projects, visit



Three short performances will be given before the sessions to give participants a look at the work of various Canadian artists. From more than 40 applications, a jury selected the groups Constantinople and Kleztory and the company Daniel Léveillé Danse to present 15-minute excerpts of their works.


This year, Montréal is more festive than ever thanks to celebrations marking the 375th anniversary of the city’s founding. ISPA delegates will be able to attend plays, dance shows, musical concerts, circus performances and more, some at reduced rates, alongside all the free shows offered as part of the city’s celebrations.


Registration and journalist accreditation

People who want to register for and attend the ISPA’s 100th Congress can do so on the ISPA website. Journalists can attend the congress for free by e-mailing a request for accreditation to



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