Cole Foundation announces intercultural theatre grants: $269,800 awarded to 20 local companies

20 companies | 30 vital grants | $269,800 to support diverse theatrical stories in Quebec


MONTREAL, February 2020 – The Cole Foundation is pleased to announce the latest grant winners for the Intercultural Conversations-Conversations Interculturelles (IC-CI) programme, created to motivate the production of professional theatre that features intercultural dialogue and introduces Montrealers to other cultural heritages and social realities. This includes themes and issues about diversity and inclusion, as well as stories regarding other marginalized communities such as LGBTQ and people with a disability. For this round of the competition, $269,800 was granted to 20 companies. New this year is a second application date to accommodate the reality of independent theatre companies, and funding given for post-show audience talkbacks to encourage the continuation of the conversation initiated in the play. 

Believing that dialogue leads to better understanding, appreciation and greater social harmony, the Cole Foundation has risen to the challenge to foster this exchange. From Barry Cole, President and Chairman of the Cole Foundation: “It has been said that we don’t welcome immigrants. Here at the Cole Foundation we are using theatre as a vehicle to introduce Montreal to the ever-changing cultures that exist in this cosmopolitan city. We see Intercultural Conversations–Conversations interculturelles as creating theatre for social change.” For the grants, there are three types of intercultural dialogue considered: plays with more than one cultural and/or ethnically diverse community in dialogue; plays with only one community—in this case the dialogue is with the audience; and plays that show the uniqueness of the French or English Quebec communities translated into the other language. These works will engage, inform and stimulate audiences, and assist in breaking down barriers. Priority will be given to productions, scripts and translations that give voice to those communities which are represented in Quebec but not being heard in Montreal, and therefore in need of access to a wider audience. The Intercultural Conversations-Conversations Interculturelles programme continues exponentially to have a positive impact on diversity in the Montreal theatre community.


Among this year’s awarded shows is The In-Between by Marcus Youssef (Image courtesy of Geordie Theatre)

This year’s awarded shows

Play submissions, increasingly stronger each year, encompass a widespread range of cultures and the varied communities within them. Of note this year is the high number of Indigenous-themed work; companies producing both the French and English versions of the same play; and a number of productions touring to the Maisons de la culture. Works, written by emerging and established playwrights, target a wide range of ages and include themes and ideas about displacement and exile, being your authentic self, the impetus for the Black Lives Matter movement, non-binary identity, missing and murdered Indigenous women, the disadvantaged young adult ‘school-to-prison pipeline’, ancestral knowledge, neurodivergence, and dreams of being blonde. Performance styles encompass comedy, drama, multimedia, dance, music, magic realism, on-stage audience participation, and hip hop Shakespeare.

COMMISSIONING grants include: Productions Ondinnok – Wabush by Louis-Karl Picard-Sioui; Geordie Productions – The In-Between by Marcus Youssef (also production grant); Geordie Productions Julian is a Mermaid by Gabe Maharjan; Repercussion Theatre – Titus by Omari Newton & Amy Lee Lavoie; Repercussion Theatre – ElizabethIndian by Jimmy Blais; Le Théâtre Fêlé – Olivier et Jamila by Talia Hallmona (also production grant); Odd Stumble – FIX by Joy Ross-Jones; and Talisman Theatre – Me and You 2 by Talia Hallmona & Pascal Brullemans.

PRODUCTION grant awards go to: Centaur Theatre – Deer Woman by Tara Beagan; Black Theatre Workshop – Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers by Makambe K. Simamba; Black Theatre Workshop – Pipeline by Dominique Morrisseau (also translation grant); Festival TransAmérique – Aleppo by Mohammed Al Attar; Youtheatre – The Kissing Game by Rhiannon Collet (also translation grant); Imago Theatre – Okinum by Émilie Monnet; creature/creature – STRIKE/THRU by Nadia Myre & Johanna Nutter; Espace Libre and Black Theatre Workshop – Obaaberima by Tawiah McCarthy (also translation grant); Productions Menuentakuan – AlterIndiens(alterNatives) by Drew Hayden Taylor; le Carrousel – Frontière nord by Suzanne Lebeau; Productions Erapop – Mourir tendre by Guy Régis Jr; and Théâtre de l’Opsis for Le iench by Eva Doumbia.

Translation grants as listed above; PipelineThe Kissing Game and Obaaberima


Obaaberima, the recipient of a production and translation grant (Image courtesy of Espace Libre/Black Theatre Workshop)

A programme assessment conducted by Claude des Landes (retired Theatre Officer for Conseil des arts de Montréal) led to the introduction of a spring IC-CI competition. As smaller theatre companies can’t always plan a year or two ahead, grant submission deadlines are now in both September and April.The deadline for the next competition of the award is Friday, April 3, 2020 at 5:00pm. Theatre companies interested in applying for a grant can download the necessary application forms and information from the Cole Foundation’s web site at: www.colefoundation.ca/community/competition-forms.

The Cole Foundation is a private family foundation based in Montreal, initiated in 1980 by the late J. N. (Jack) Cole, a Montreal businessman and philanthropist. It supports research in pediatric leukemia and related diseases, as well as a program of support for community initiatives, including Intercultural Conversations. The catalyst for Intercultural Conversations was the Bouchard-Taylor Commission which recognized the multicultures of Montreal and the need to increase the intercultural dialogue between these communities.

Barry Cole – President and Chairman, Cole Foundation
Barry Cole has had a 30-year career in the management of the performing arts, with an emphasis on classical music. He has been the Director of the Performing Arts Office at Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, designing a cultural programme for both the city and the university communities, a Grants Officer in the Music Section of the Canada Council in Ottawa, the Managing Director of the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Orchestra in Ontario, the Executive Director of the Royal and McPherson Theatres Society in Victoria, British Columbia and the Manager of the theatre programme at the formerly named Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts in Montreal.


For more information about the Cole Foundation’s Intercultural Conversations–Conversations interculturelles program, visit http://colefoundation.ca/community/

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