The year 2023 begins with its share of challenges. Inflation remains very high: food, housing, energy, everything costs more. Added to this economic context is the ever-present health risk. The pressure is strong on families and businesses. The cultural sector is also very hard-hit, and its difficulties are not insignificant, on the contrary.
The dance sector has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. The year 2022 has brought some hope. Last April, only 7% of those who returned to see a show went to see a dance performance, according to a Léger poll.
However, this data is worrying. In reassuring economic and health times, dance attracts around 15% of the culture-loving public. This means that dance reaches less than half of its traditional share of an audience which, overall, remains smaller than before the pandemic. In other words, the cultural sector has not completely recovered and dance remains in a serious crisis.
We must support art
The economic context is likely to have a significant impact on the cultural expenditure of the public. In times of uncertainty, we need to support art even more. The dance community then mobilized in an unprecedented promotional campaign under the theme Pense danse, carried out with funding from the Government of Quebec and additional support from the Government of Canada. The promotion of dance is certainly part of the solution. This discipline is accessible to all and is present throughout Quebec. We appeal to the population to practice and explore this discipline that brings emotion and inspiration to many faces. But obviously more is needed.
Dance is one of the oldest and most universal art forms. It is an area of creation where Quebec has acquired extraordinary international renown. However, dance, its creators and its performers in Quebec need more than ever solidarity from the population. Dance companies create miracles with minimal budgets. Renowned or emerging artists consider packing up.
The local professional dance sector inspires an avant-garde that pushes the established boundaries of our society. These lovers and gifted in the choreographic art pursue their passion with all the sacrifice it takes and lead us to dream with them. The pandemic has demonstrated how the arts contribute to a healthy life and Quebecers can choose to offer them their fair value by ensuring that we support culture and its artists through our spending choices and our public funds.
If the support model of our cultural system, especially that of dance, does not adapt to economic changes in a sustainable way, we are at risk of seeing a part of our culture deconstructed. This sector could thus suffer irreparable damage and the creative richness that emerges from our discipline and which promotes Quebec as an artistic leader would disappear in the years to come.
We call on the government to continue to urgently engage in the discussions necessary to find lasting solutions, together. We encourage the population to discover dance, whether by going out to see shows, by registering with or without the children for dance activities, or by watching dance films.
We just want to meet you in 2023 and we want to hear you talk about dance and make this discipline shine, right here at home.
Executive Director of the Regroupement québécois de la danse