The Creative Economy and the English Speaking Communities in Quebec (ESCQ)

Table of contents

Executive Summary

The Creative Economy and English-Speaking Communities in Quebec presents preliminary research results based on a focus group, private key informant interviews, and bibliographical research. It demonstrates that the concepts of the creative economy are useful in charting cultural and economic development for the English-speaking communities in Quebec (ESCQ).

The English-speaking population in Quebec forms the largest provincial Official Language Minority Community in Canada. In recent decades, the composition of this population has become increasingly complex and multicultural. Parallel to this demographic shift, the influence of English-language Quebec culture has also evolved. English-speakers are said to have a high participation rate in the arts, culture and heritage sectors. In this context, organizations from these sectors are increasingly involved in supporting the socioeconomic development of the ESCQ. This report reflects growing concerns on the part of representatives of some of these organizations who participated in the study over how to apply the creative economy theory to generate effective models of cultural-economic development for the ESCQ.

Due to the preliminary nature of the research involved in this study, coupled with the range of understandings about the creative economy reflected in the participants' comments and our annotated bibliography, the report does not recommend a single definition of "creative economy". Instead, it presents three different but related concepts of the creative economy reflecting perspectives presented by the focus group participants and that can be applied in the economic-cultural development of the ESCQ. The first points to the creative economy as a form of social economic activity that generates economic returns and is embedded in community networks. The second refers to a wide range of new economic activity that is inherently a collective and social process. The third links the creative economy to the idea of “social economy” in which creative activities generate public goods and services. While varied, these concepts all stress the social aspects of the creative economy and suggest the need to understand the ways these aspects can be utilized to increase the vitality of the ESCQ.

The report describes the potential of the Quebec creative economy highlighting the role of Montreal in its development. Many of the success stories suggested by research participants came from English-speaking artists from urban areas. The report indicates a lack of understanding and awareness among researchers and community organizers of rural forms of creative economy.

The challenges for the ESCQ in developing creative economies have been associated with issues of funding mechanisms, uneven rural-urban development, discrimination against newcomers, and linguistic-cultural barriers. The report communicates suggestions made by focus group interview participants that could help tackle these challenges. First, participants indicated that horizontal, transparent, and sustainable funding mechanism suitable for the ESCQ. Second, communication infrastructure is required to help rural communities connect to the institutional, human, and technical resources in urban areas. Third, urban-based arts communities need more public support to resist socioeconomic forces such as gentrification and cultural prejudice. Fourth, more programs and initiatives are needed to assist English-speaking cultural workers integrate into the Francophone cultural networks.

Finally, the report provides several suggestions and topics for the next research phases. Key areas include rural development, cultural workforce, diversity issues, funding structures, and culture enterprise.


The author wishes to acknowledge the people who generously agreed to be consulted and interviewed for this research project. They are listed in the appendices. Special thanks go to Jennifer Chapman for her excellent assistance and Aurelia Roman who prepared the annotated bibliography. The author is especially grateful to Lorraine O’Donnell, coordinator-researcher of the Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN), Concordia University, the senior researcher who coordinated the project and offered invaluable advice throughout the project.

The author expresses her sincere gratitude to the members of the Steering Committee who gave valuable suggestions for designing a focus group protocol and reviewed the final manuscript of the report. The members are Beverley Caplan, Louis Doyle, Jane Needles, and Guy Rodgers.

The project was funded by a contract from Industry Canada. QUESCREN is a joint initiative of the School of Extended Learning (SEL), Concordia University and the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities, located in Moncton; it is funded in part by Canadian Heritage. Noel Burke, Dean of the SEL, is the principal investigator of this research.


This report is an outcome of a study entitled "The creative economy and the English-speaking communities in Quebec". The research was funded by Industry Canada and carried out in collaboration with the Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN), a joint initiative of Concordia University's School of Extended Learning and the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities, and two community groups: the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC) and the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).

The core objective of this study is to develop an understanding of the creative economy in the context of Official Language Minority Communities, specifically the ways the creative economy contributes to the socio-economic development of the arts, culture and heritage sectors of the English-speaking communities in Quebec (ESCQ). Consistent with this objective, this report presents a detailed summary of the research results and an analysis of interview data. These materials will be useful for developing an action plan for the next phase of the research and for the anticipated development project.

The study was carried out in consultation with a steering committee comprised of representatives from CEDEC, QCGN, Canadian Heritage, and Industry Canada. They are Beverley Caplan (Canadian Heritage), Louis Doyle (Industry Canada), Jane Needles (CEDEC), and Guy Rodgers (QCGN).

During the course of this project, the research team conducted eight private interviews, organized a focus group of nine participants, and compiled a preliminary annotated bibliography of the creative economy literature relevant to the English-speaking arts and cultural communities. The methodology chapter offers more details on the research process and discusses the study's limitations. This chapter discusses the context of the study and reviews the existing conceptual frameworks of creative economy.


Quebec's English-speaking Communities Addresses the Creative Economy Issue

Many community organizations and individuals laid the foundation for this research project including CEDEC, QCGN, the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN), the English Language Arts Network (ELAN), the Quebec Drama Federation and the Townshippers' Association. For years members of these organizations have been discussing the importance of cultural development for English-speaking communities in Quebec (ESCQ). The enthusiasm and commitment of these groups and individuals reflect the flourishing arts, culture and heritage sectors of the ESCQ. As well, these organizations have produced valuable reports including "The Artistic and Cultural Vitality of English-speaking Quebec" (Rodgers, Needles and Garber 2007)Footnote 1 and "Developing an Arts, Culture, and Heritage Policy Framework for English-speaking Quebec" (Arts Culture and Heritage Working Group, ACHWG 2008)Footnote 2. Next, this section will review the main findings that emerged from previous discussions. These findings reveal the context of this study and shape the foundational premise of this report.

First, accounting for 13% of Quebec's population, the English-speaking community is the largest Official Language Minority Community in any Canadian province. Approximately 80% of these English-speakers live in urban areas. The composition of this population is dynamic. In 2006, the percentage of visible minorities that speak English increased to 20.8% (ACHWG 2008). Thus, this research project intends to capture the evolving nature of the English-speaking population and explore the implications of this evolution for socio-economic development in the arts, culture, and heritage sectors.

Second, since the 1990s, English-language Quebec culture has been gradually accepted by the Quebec government and the Francophone public (Rodgers, Needles and Garber 2007). In particular, English language cultural production is increasingly visible in Montreal. Compared to the Francophone majority, English-speakers have a high participation rate in the arts, culture, and heritage sectors (Rodgers, Needles and Garber 2007). And yet little research has actually been conducted on the factors that shape English-speakers' participation in the creative economy. This is one reason the present report has been commissioned.

Third, the ESCQ play an underappreciated role in the structural transformation of the Canadian and Quebec economies, in which economic activities are becoming more connected with the arts, culture, and heritage sectors than ever before. As a 2008 survey reveals, the culture sector in CanadaFootnote 3 generated 1.1 million jobs and $46 billion in real value-added GDP, which constituted 3.8% of Canada's real GDP (The Conference Board of Canada 2008, p. iii). More significantly, the Conference Board of Canada, an independent research agency, calculated direct, indirect, and induced contributions of the creative economy, and they estimate that the economic footprint of the culture sector was approximately $84.6 billion in 2007, or 7.4% of Canada's total real GDP (The Conference Board of Canada 2008, p. 1). In this context, non-profit arts organizations are increasingly aware that their mission is not only to foster English cultural expression in Quebec but also to support the socio-economic development of the ESCQ.

Since the establishment of the English Language Arts Network in 2004, Anglophone arts groups have started to develop a close working relationship with community development organizations. More recently, these community-based organizations have come to realize the importance of assessing the economic contribution of the non-profit sector, particularly in the arts, culture and heritage areas, to national and provincial economies. Without such knowledge, arts, cultural and heritage organizations find it especially challenging to voice their concerns and interests in policy-making circles where economic growth is a central concern. However, these organizations do not have sufficient human and institutional resources to conduct systematic research. Thus, the report is an attempt to draw together information which will allow multiple stakeholders for example, diverse English-speaking community organizations, arts groups, academia, for-profit operations, and government agencies, such as Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage, to pursue cultural-economic development objectives.

Rise of the Creative Economy Approach

The idea of the creative economy, also known as 'creative industries,' emerged in the late 1990s. The origin of the idea has been associated with the Tony Blair's Labour party and specifically the Creative Industries Mapping Documents they produced.Footnote 4 The subsequent decade witnessed a proliferation of scholarship and development programs that expanded the concept of the creative economy and generated lively debates about how to apply theories of the creative economy to policy making and community development.

Characterizing the Creative Economy Approach

Key definitions of the creative economy have been proposed by the United Nations (UN) and Statistics Canada. On the basis of these definitions, various frameworks have been developed to delineate the scale and scope of the creative economy. The following section will discuss the relevance of these definitions in the specific context of the Quebec Anglophone arts, cultural and heritage organizations. The section will also assess the relevance of Richard Florida's work on the “creative city” for this same community.

This engagement with key definitions and theories provides a methodological context for this report. Specifically, these definitions can help to define the boundaries of the creative economy within the national and provincial economies. Further, these definitions can serve as a springboard for elaborating a conceptual framework and working definition of the creative economy that, we believe, reflect the local reality of English-speaking communities in Quebec.

United Nations and Canadian Government Definitions

At an international level, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Education, Science, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) are active advocates of studying creative industries. The two UN agencies have produced several important policy-oriented reports on the creative economy.Footnote 5 These widely circulated documents aim to provide national governments with the tools to study the creative industries sector and to develop comprehensive statistics for cross-regional research (UNESCO 2006). Among these organizations, it is agreed that there is no unique definition of the “creative economy”. However, the UN research units have created a working definition that highlights the characteristics of a core group of creative industries and their overall interactions within and across nation-state boundaries. It reads as follows: (UNCTAD 2010, p. 10).

UNCTAD definition of the creative economy

The "creative economy" is an evolving concept based on creative assets potentially generating economic growth and development.

  • It can foster income generation, job creation and export earnings while promoting social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development.
  • It embraces economic, cultural and social aspects interacting with technology, intellectual property and tourism objectives.
  • It is a set of knowledge-based economic activities with a development dimension and cross-cutting linkages at macro and micro levels to the overall economy.
  • It is a feasible development option calling for innovative, multidisciplinary policy responses and interministerial action.
  • At the heart of the creative economy are the creative industries.

From the UN point of view, the creative economy presents an opportunity for both advanced and developing countries to combat financial crisis, high unemployment rate, and environmental deterioration. With this intent, the UNCTAD defines the ‘creative economy’ as articulated with macro-economic planning. This definition emphasizes the multiple dimensions of the creative economy and the importance of fostering these dimensions to achieve desirable economic, social and cultural objectives. Also, this definition suggests that state actors play a central role in creating conditions for the growth of creative economy. In this regard, interministerial action is required to tackle development challenges that result from complex interactions among various sectors, including the arts, culture, industry, business, and technology.

In this sense, the UNCTAD definition is relevant to this research project. As indicated in the definition above, UNCTAD assumes the importance of the creative economy for generating both human development and economic development. This was the underlying premise when the current research project was being devised. This definition, which emphasizes ‘interministerial action’, also provides a justification for bringing together representatives from Industry Canada, Canadian Heritage, academia and the non-profit sector to discuss development issues in the arts, culture, and heritage sectors of the ESCQ. However, this definition is centered on the creative industries, primarily the for-profit operations (UNCTAD 2010, p. 8); therefore, this conceptual framework implicitly undermines non-profit activities.

Within Canada, Statistics Canada has developed the Canadian Framework for Culture Statistics,Footnote 6 which is derived from a “value chain” approach to the creative economy (Statistics Canada 2004, p. 8). The value chain analysis examines how creative ideas are combined with other inputs to generate a creative good or service, and how such a good or service “passes through further value-adding stages until it enters marketing and distributing channels and eventually reaches the final consumer” (UNCTAD 2010, p. 78). The underlying assumption is that the creative economy is a measurable socio-economic process, comprised of a chain of activities, from creation, production, distribution, to retail and consumption (UNCTAD 2010, p. 78). At the federal level, this concept of creative economy is adopted by another important research initiative, this time by the Conference Board of Canada, called Valuing Culture: Measuring and Understanding Canada's Creative Economy.

At the same time, the current application of the value chain method overlooks an important aspect of the functioning of the non-profit culture sector, comprised of many key creative economy activities such as festivals, craft cooperatives, and various community-based arts organizations. As Valuing Culture indicates, Statistics Canada has the data on volunteering in the culture and recreation sectors, but the agency still omits this volunteer labour, which the non-profit organizations partially depend on, from the measures of the creative economy (Conference Board of Canada 2008, p. 3)Footnote 7. This oversight is not unique to Canada. Only recently, for example, have European countries begun to consider the interactions between the for-profit creative economy and the not-for-profit sector (UNCTAD 2010, p. 98).

In summary, the UNCTAD and Statistics Canada definitions of the creative economy are significant in that they address the complex structures of the creative industries and help us appreciate, understand and measure their economic importance. However, in our view, they overlook contributions by the non-profit sector and the dynamic relationship between the for-profit and non-profit sectors. This may reflect the fact that these two sectors were placed under the jurisdictions of separate government agencies at a time when the creative economy was relatively insignificant. With this legacy, limited coordination within the government bureaucracy may have hindered policy makers from developing a conceptual framework that is sensitive to the interactions between for-profit and non-profit sectors.

This study used the existing definitions of the creative economy as guidelines to design interview and focus group protocols. At the same time, the research team adopted an exploratory approach to collect qualitative data for developing a framework that can capture both non-profit and for-profit cultural activities, for instance, in considering the importance of volunteer contributions in the vein of the Valuing Culture report (Conference Board of Canada 2008, p. 5).

Richard Florida's Approach

At the center of the creative economy analyses, cities have been regarded as engines of creativity (Conference Board of Canada 2008, p. 8). Richard Florida is a leading theorist who has defined the notion of “creative city” and then positioned himself as an advocate of creative cities. The debates around Florida’s work are particularly relevant to this research since he celebrates Montreal as the model creative city.

Florida and his associates believe that creative people drive regional economic growth. Places that are diverse, tolerant, and open to new ideas are more likely to attract creative people (Florida 2002)Footnote8. Montreal, according to his research, is a hotbed of creativity because of the city’s diverse and large population, and the city’s so-called “super creative core”—high concentrations of people with occupations in computer-related fields, architecture, engineering, life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, education, training, library science, arts, design, entertainment, and media (Florida 2002, p. 328). In addition, Montreal's geographical proximity to the United States and Europe, its large gay and lesbian community, and bilingualism are all said to indicate the high degree of tolerance and openness of the Quebecois metropolis.

For the purposes of this study, we may offer a critique of Florida’s assumption about the nature of creative workers. In Florida’s early work, his portrayal of the creative class tends to focus on a group of wealthy single mostly male elites who live in downtown condos and have neither families nor children. It is assumed that creative workers are fully capable of breaking into various social networks. Although Florida has recently revised some of his viewpoints on the creative city, this assumption about the creative class has had long lasting effects on policy-making circles. Concern has been expressed that Florida's approach to urban renewal has had the impact of leading to an increased rate of speculative activities in the real estate market and subsequent gentrification. For such reasons, critics have argued that Florida’s program is not the tide that lifts all boats (Markusen 2006; Peck 2005; Rantisi and Leslie 2010)Footnote9. Indeed, it might be argued that the results from the current study suggest that Montreal’s arts communities have already learned this lesson through painful experience.

Our study, while engaging with Florida’s ideas, attempts to go beyond some of the limitations of his theory by exploring more social, especially community-oriented, notions of the creative economy and looking at more inclusive models of cultural economic development. We also look beyond cities to consider the experiences and needs of rural English-speakers. In so doing, the research team aimed to find an approach that is more appropriate to the needs and priorities of Quebec’s English-speaking communities and the development orientation of the recent research initiative.

Working Definition of the Creative Economy in the Context of Quebec's English-speaking Communities

This study was carried out in response to a growing English-speaking community interest in the creative economy. The research team does not propose a final definition of the creative economy at this point because the researchers have not done a comprehensive analysis of the literature cited in the bibliography, and more research effort is required to develop a conceptual framework that is suitable for the ESCQ and also can capture the dynamic relationship between the for-profit and not-for-profit activities in the creative economy. However, at this point we can put forth a working definition that, in our view, is enriched by insights brought by other approaches, including our understandings of some of their limitations.

Our working definition of the creative economy in the context of Quebec's English-speaking communities attempts to be comprehensive and integrated. Specifically, it includes these elements:

  • It focuses on arts, culture, and heritage, rather than being as broad as some of the literature would suggest (e.g., it does not include all research and development sectors and education). Nonetheless, this covers a very broad range of activity. Examples of ESCQ creative economic activity include: performing arts, such as music, theatre, circus, and dance; visual arts, such as painting, sculpture, photography, media arts; the heritage sector, such as craft fairs, heritage days, literary festivals, cultural sites, museums, exhibitions, libraries; media, include publishing, printed media, and audiovisual media (e.g., film, video, and new media); and creative services, such as cultural tourism, design, fashion, recreation, and related research.
  • Within this parameter of focusing on arts, culture and heritage, the creative economy approach we propose is an inclusive analysis of a wide range of social-economic activity. Our working definition includes rural and urban Quebec creative economy initiatives, newcomers to the English-speaking communities (including students and immigrants), and people from ethnocultural groups, including visible minorities. Importantly, this conceptual framework includes both for-profit and non-profit activities.
  • It recognizes that these various subgroups (rural and urban, long-established communities and newcomers of the ESCQ, visible minorities and non-visible minorities) all contribute to the creative economy and serve as real and potential resources to one another in dynamic and important ways. These various stakeholders of the creative economy require recognition and support.
  • It recognizes the creative economy has important socio-cultural dimensions. The creative economy as practised by Quebec's English-speaking communities is largely a community-based form of social economic activity. As such, supporting and developing English-speaking community involvement in the creative economy would serve as a basis not only for economic development but also for community building, including for facilitating cultural diversity and enhancing social inclusion within the communities.
  • At the same time, it recognizes and emphasizes the economic dimension of the creative economy. As numerous studies have shown, the creative economy is an important site of economic development and generator of jobs and wealth. English-speaking community arts, culture, and heritage activities, within the context of both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, should be recognized not only as socio-cultural activities but also as economic activities.

Structure of this Report

This study explores the views of the creative economy by drawing on focus group and interviews with key informants, including academics, community organizers, and cultural entrepreneurs. In the following Chapter 2, I will explain the research design and procedures. Chapter 3 and 4 summarize focus group and key informant interview results, including proposed definitions of creative economy, analysis of the challenges, and suggestions for improving the existing policies and programs. In Chapter 5, I propose directions for future research and offer suggestions on how to develop a research agenda for the next phase. Chapter 6 is the preliminary annotated bibliography of 48 articles, books, and policy reports. The appendices include an interview protocol, focus group agenda, and a list of participants and researchers who carried out this study.


The objectives

The underlying objectives of this study are 1) to develop an understanding of the creative economy, and 2) to explore how the creative economy approach can contribute to the socio-economic development of the arts, culture, and heritage sectors of the English-speaking communities of Quebec (ESCQ). This objective is consistent with the central research agenda proposed by the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) in their policy report, entitled “Developing an Arts, Culture, and Heritage Policy Framework for English-speaking Quebec” (QCGN November 2008)Footnote 10.

In addition, this research project aims to:

  1. Explore the meanings of “creative economy” and the meanings’ relevance to the socio-economic development of the arts, culture, and heritage sectors of the ESCQ.
  2. Identify the ESCQ’s socio-economic contributions to the provincial creative economy.
  3. Identify the opportunities and challenges that the existing creative development policy has brought to the ESCQ.
  4. Produce preliminary research results as a base for policy makers, community organizers, and researchers to develop policy frameworks, envision future action plans, and/or pursue in-depth investigations.

Research questions

The interview protocol was developed by Dr. Lorraine O'Donnell, coordinator-researcher of the Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network, the senior researcher who coordinated this research project, and later refined by Dr. Tracy Zhang, who was the project's lead researcher. The final protocol contains three groups of questions that aim to assist interviewers better communicate with a wide range of research participants. The three groups of questions include:

  1. questions for experts on ‘creative economy’,
  2. questions for experts on community development and ESCQ, and
  3. questions for community organizers, cultural workers, or cultural entrepreneurs.
  4. The protocol allowed participants the choice of remaining anonymous, and several of the interviewees chose this option. Before each interview, the interviewer researched the background of the interviewee and modified questions accordingly.

The focus group questions were generated in a different way. First, Dr. Zhang created a focus group guideline, including objectives and guide questions. Then, the guideline was sent to the Steering Committee for feedback. The Steering Committee revised the guideline and also provided additional questions to be included. Dr. Zhang created the final focus group manual by incorporating suggestions from the Steering Committee and Dr. O’Donnell.

Selection of research participants

Research participants were selected based on the following criteria.

For academics: 1) has published articles/books on creative economy, and 2) has carried out creative industry-related projects situated in the Quebecois context, or 3) has done research relevant to English-speaking communities in Quebec.

For non-academics: 1) has more than 5 years work experience with English-speaking communities in Quebec, 2) works for organizations that promote socio-economic and cultural rights of the ESCQ, or 3) works in the creative economic sectors.

All research participants were recruited through university and community networks.


We used three research methods to collect data. First, in-depth interviews with key informants were conducted either in person or by phone. Each interview lasted approximately 45 minutes. The interviews were semi-structured and conducted in an informal, conversational style. This method is useful for analyzing interviewees’ interpretations and knowledge of the creative economy and its relation to the ESCQ.

Second, the focus group method was used to elicit different opinions on key issues. Participants come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, yet they share certain characteristics relevant to the study questions. The focus group complemented the key informant interviews by creating a relaxed environment where informants would feel comfortable sharing their ideas in the company of other experts. The focus group format permits the moderator-researcher the flexibility to explore unanticipated issues as they arise in discussion.

The empirical data gathered from interviews and the focus group were analyzed and are presented in summary form. Only the main points, for instance, comments that generated discussion in the focus group, have been communicated. These have been grouped by theme.

Lastly, library and online research methods were used to assemble an annotated bibliography. The procedure for selecting bibliographic materials is outlined in Chapter 6.


Due to time constraints, the research team recruited in total 16 research participants. These participants mainly represent the “expert” group from the arts, culture, and heritage sectors of the ESCQ. Consequently, this study lacks empirical data on how individual artists and cultural workers develop their livelihood strategies and overcome socio-cultural barriers in the creative economic sectors.

Note about the focus group and key informant interview chapters

The information communicated in the focus group and key informant interview chapters of the report reflects participant opinions and perceptions. These have not been verified for accuracy and do not represent the opinions of the researchers.

Focus Group


The focus group was carried out on the morning of March 14th, 2012 at Concordia University. Nine participants joined this event; three have extensive hands-on experiences with non-profit organizations and the arts, culture, heritage sectors of the English-speaking communities in Quebec (ESCQ). Hilary Leftick is a photographer and the executive producer of POP MontrealFootnote 11. Peter MacGibbon is a musician, community organizer, and vice-president on the ELAN (English Language Arts Network)Footnote 12 board of directors. Linda Leith is a writer and founder of the Blue Metropolis FestivalFootnote 13. The focus group also included scholars. Economic Geographer Dr. Norma Rantisi (Concordia University) has studied Quebec’s fur and fashion industries. Her recent research project looks at the evolution of circus art in Montreal. Economic Geographer Dr. Richard Shearmur (L’institut national de la recherche scientifique, INRS) is an expert on the geography of innovation, regional development policy, and the knowledge economy in urban Quebec. Dr. Satoshi Ikeda (Concordia University) holds the Canadian Research Chair in Political Sociology of Global Futures. His expertise contributes to understanding the social dimension of the creative economy. Our expert on rural development was anthropologist Dr. Bill Reimer (Concordia University). His research is centered on the issues of social inclusion, cohesion, and community-capacity building in rural settings. The last two participants Michael Lenczner and John Stokes, provided us with business-oriented perspectives on the creative economy and their relevance to the ESCQ. John, co-founder of Montreal Start UpFootnote 14, has invested or co-founded several software, internet, and media companies. Michael co-funded several internet-based companies, such as Île sans filFootnote 15 (a non-profit wireless internet provider) and Montréal OuvertFootnote 16 (an initiative that promotes open access to civic information).


  1. Clarify the linkages between the creative economy and the socio-economic development of the arts, culture, and heritage sector of the ESCQ;
  2. Discuss the factors that might shape these linkages and affect the ESCQ’s participations in the creative economy;
  3. Produce recommendations for future development in the arts, culture, and heritage sectors of the ESCQ.


The focus group was divided into two sessions. In the first session, the moderator solicited participants’ views regarding the concepts of the creative economy, and their applications in the development of the arts, culture, and heritage sectors. The second session aimed to develop a vision for the future through making recommendations that address ESCQ’s development challenges and opportunities within the creative economy. 

Note about Information Presented in this Section

The discussion as presented below represents focus group participant viewpoints grouped into themes. The viewpoints have not been validated for factual accuracy.

Main Points Raised by the Participants

What Are the Characteristics of the Creative Economy? Three Perspectives Put Forward by Focus Group Participants

When asked to give their views on concepts of the creative economy, our participants put forth many points that can be grouped into three perspectives as follows. Collectively, they show that there currently exist among experts and practitioners a wide range of understandings of how to define the creative economy and, by extension, of how to approach it as researchers, community organizers or policy and program developers.

Perspective 1: a community-based form of social-economic activity

  • In one perspective, the creative economy can be seen as a form of social-economic activity that generates economic returns and is embedded in historically established community networks. In this sense, the creative economy contributes to building community vitality and cohesion. In rural areas, the creative economy, as a theatre festival for example, can create employment opportunities for local people. At the same time, creative economic activity can bring seniors and youth together through recruitment of volunteers. Furthermore, in this first perspective, the creative economy can contribute to developing cultural expression and produce cultural goods and services for a local audience. However, our participants agree that unlike what is required for regular community organizations, the creative economy must be sustained by promoting artistic quality and excellence beyond local geography.  Cross-regional and international outreach is central to the long-term development of the creative economy. In other words, when viewed from this first perspective, the creative economy can play a role in linking one community to many communities, enhancing communications between rural and urban areas, and fostering local accesses to international cultural markets. This view suggests that programs and initiatives should use the creative economy to strengthen the arts, culture, and heritage sectors of the ESCQ.

The creative economy can put us more prominently on the map. It’s important to make ourselves known outside the community—to make a splash
Linda Leith

Perspective 2: the new "creative" post-industrial economy

The second perspective of the creative economy reflected in the focus group discussion is oriented towards the changing industrial structure in North America and the implications of this structural change for the labour market. In this broader context, the term “creative economy” refers to a wide range of rising economic sectors that replace the declining labour-intensive industries of the past two decades. In these sectors, the ‘creative’ inputs and outputs impact the consumer market. From this perspective proposed in the course of the focus group discussion, the creative economy is inherently a collective and social process. The creative economy manifests as such a process in two important ways. First, the new sectors intersect in various forms and flourish through replying on an interdependent mode of cultural production (e.g., the fashion industry intersects the circus industry). Second, complex production processes (e.g., making a film, or organizing a concert) force artists, designers, musicians, and other cultural workers to collaborate. Emphasizing the “intersection” and “collaboration” aspects of the creative economy, this perspective suggests the need to understand the socio-economic factors that may impede or enhance English-speaking cultural workers’ participations in the provincial creative economy.

Perspective 3: a "prosumer"-oriented form of the new social economy

Finally, one of the focus group participants, Dr. Satoshi Ikeda, presented a third perspective on the creative economy. He linked the creative economy to his idea of “social economy” in which the old division between producer and consumer is diminishing. The assumption is that the corporate economy pushes people into the consumer position. But many consumers are dissatisfied, want to be creative, and get involved in the creative process. Dr. Satoshi uses the term “prosumer” to stress that people are yearning to once again be creative; they constitute the driving force of the creative economy. Furthermore, this form of creative production (e.g., home videos on YouTube) often generates public goods and services. From this point of view, programs and initiatives should be designed to foster areas where people can and will create public cultural goods and services.

Story" Participants Used to Organize Their Thoughts about the Creative Economy

As the focus group participants discussed different ways to understand the creative economy and how it has manifested among Quebec's English-speaking communities, the participants referred to several positive examples of creative economy activity among the ESCQ arts, culture and heritage sectors. They included activities with which the participants were involved, including the Blue Metropolis festival, a multilingual literary festival founded in Montreal in 1997, and POP Montreal, a decade-old international music and culture festival. As well, many other examples were brought forth later on in the focus group discussion in the "recommendations" section (described below).

The example that generated the most discussion during this part of the focus group session, however, was Arcade FireFootnote 17. This Montreal-based indie rock band was cited as a successful model for English-speaking arts organizations and cultural workers. The band, mainly composed of English-speaking musicians, has won several prestigious awards including the 2011 Grammy for Album of the Year and the 2011 Juno Award for Album of the Year.

What Arcade Fire tells us about the ESCQ and the creative economy

Discussing Arcade Fire enabled participants to develop some of their ideas about important characteristics of the ESCQ creative economy. They stated that the rise of the band was closely associated with the Anglophone music scene in two significant ways. First, POP Montreal was actively involved in promoting Arcade Fire when the band strove to establish a reputation in Quebec. Once established, Arcade Fire in turn supported POP Montreal by requesting that the festival organizers help produce an important free show of theirs once they had become famous, in 2011Footnote 18. This experience was proposed, as we will see later in this section, as a possible mutual assistance model for artists and arts support organizations. Second, persistent support from the Anglophone audience has been key to the band’s survival in the local music industry, an industry characterized by the French and English linguistic divide.

In addition, participants noted that Arcade Fire’s growing international influence also suggests that in the language-based creative sectors, such as music and literature, English-speaking artists might have an advantage in competing successfully in the overseas cultural markets because their work is communicated in English. However, it is my view that systematic studies are required to identify the social factors that could enable these artists to maintain a production base in Quebec while seeking out audiences beyond Quebec.

Finally, the focus group discussion revealed that like Arcade Fire, many other Anglophones actively engage in the creative economy by forming small-and-medium sized culture enterprises/organizations. Usually, these are individual self-initiatives that do not rely on government support.

However, looking at Arcade Fire also points to information gaps regarding the ESCQ and the creative economy. To my knowledge, little is known about the development patterns of this form of creative activity or the nature of the economic impacts these cultural companies/organizations make on the overall creative economy in Quebec. 

The Potential of Quebec's Creative Economy: Participants Identify Factors Making Montreal a Creative Economy Hub

While discussing the potential of the provincial creative economy, our participants mainly focused on Montreal. Several participants agreed that Montreal has been the incubator of the arts, culture, and heritage sectors of the ESCQ thanks to five main socio-economic attributes of the city.

First, Montreal has a critical mass, a high concentration of the ESCQ that demand cultural goods and services, relevant to their interests and lives.

Second, a large population of bilingual and multilingual speakers contribute to the richness of urban culture. Especially, the English-speaking population has a high participation rate in the creative economic sectors. They are the main producers of English language cultural goods and services in Quebec.

Third, Montreal has a burgeoning sector, comprised of innovative arts and cultural initiatives (e.g., Studio XXFootnote 19and Société des Arts TechnologiquesFootnote 20. These organizations and groups, not necessarily Anglophone, can provide a valuable source of inspiration for understanding the roles of public interventions in the creative economy.

Fourth, compared with their counterparts in Toronto and New York City, cultural workers in general find it easier to sustain their careers by taking advantage of the affordable working and living spaces in Montreal.

Lastly, Quebec has a variety of social-economic organizations that prioritize community needs and interests (e.g., co-op daycares, co-op stores, community learning centers, and so on). Although these organizations do not directly promote the arts, culture, and heritage sectors of the ESCQ, they foster a sustainable environment, in which the ESCQ (especially in poor communities) can establish viable means to enhance their economic and cultural lives.

Challenges to ESCQ Creative Economy Activity as Identified by Focus Group Participants

Our participants described several constraints on the development of the ESCQ. As mentioned above, please note that I am communicating here focus group participant viewpoints that have not been verified for factual accuracy. 

  • Participants stated that there is a lack of a long-term, multi-year funding structure to support community-based cultural programs and initiatives.
  • According to the participants, the existing public funding structure that does support the arts, culture, and heritage of the ESCQ, does not support emergent and small for-profit culture enterprises.
  • Focus group participants stated that in their view, most English-speaking cultural workers want to make a living in the creative economy.
  • Participants argued that there is a need, therefore, for stronger policy mechanisms that protect these cultural workers’ economic rights.
  • Participants said that the ESCQ includes a diverse range of communities and it evolves through constant inflows of new immigrants.
  • Participants expressed the view that the existing arts, culture, and heritage sectors of the ESCQ have not effectively engaged with the newcomers.
  • In the opinion of the focus group participants, English-speaking cultural workers need public support to first overcome linguistic and cultural barriers that prevent them from reaching the Francophone audience. They also require support to go beyond the Francophone world.
  • According to the participants, no comprehensive program tackles the particular challenge that English-speaking cultural workers are facing.
  • Participants agreed that Montreal is a good incubator, but it lacks the second-level support (e.g., distribution and marketing networks) required for more successful artists—and so the latter, including English-speaking artists, often leave for other places like Toronto and New York City.

In the creative world, failure is part of the process; things need to sprout, and support is needed for sowing the seeds and seeing them grow.
Hilary Leftick


Vision for a Positive Future: Participant Recommendations for Supporting ESCQ Involvement in the Creative Economy

When asked to suggest recommendations and improvements to the existing creative economy climate for the ESCQ arts, culture and heritage sectors, focus group participants made many points that have been grouped by theme below. These suggestions can be useful to both revising the existing policies and creating new programs; therefore, I do not group these viewpoints into categories, such as "suggestions for policymaking" or " suggestions for programming".

In the course of the focus group discussion, participants referred to many existing projects and activities that in their view were good examples and might serve as models. For convenience, the names of these projects and activities have been highlighted in the text.

  • Please note that, as has been previously mentioned, the points conveyed below represent views and opinions of the focus group participants. They have not been verified for factual accuracy.

Creative Industry

  • Participants suggested several ways to improve support for English-speakers working in Quebec's creative economy. In their vision, the support would include:

General suggestions:
In the view of the focus group participants, there is need for a policy that supports Quebec English-language cultural production (e.g., Sid Lee ad agencyFootnote 21). Such cultural enterprise creates employment opportunities for English-speaking cultural workers and also could play a significant role in exporting Quebec cultural goods and services.

Specific suggestions:
Participants proposed that policy mechanisms be created that encourage bartering, collaboration, and incubation in the English-speaking creative sectors (e.g., Belgo Building GalleryFootnote 22). Participants also suggested that programs could be developed to facilitate interactions between artists and small companies in the ESCQ. Small companies can invest profits from their collaborations with established artists to support the work of up-and-coming artists. In addition, participants proposed that programs and initiatives be created that provide opportunities for emerging artists and cultural entrepreneurs to test their abilities. Such programs could provide participants with small start-up capital, mentorship, peer support, and/or tax credits.

Participants also expressed concern for the living conditions of English-speakers working in the Quebec creative economy. They proposed the creation of a livelihood base for cultural workers, such as affordable communal studio spaces and housing benefits.

Community Development

In keeping with their perspectives on the creative economy (see above) emphasizing its social and community base, focus group participants also presented several suggestions for improving ESCQ creative economy activity that would also serve to build the communities themselves:

General suggestions

  • Participants recommended the creation of a long-term, multi-year funding structure for English-speaking organizations in the arts, culture and heritage sectors that draws on existing public funding source as well as community loan groups such as the Montreal Community Loan FundFootnote 23.
  • Participants would like to see the creation of programs that support newcomers and acknowledge newcomers’ contribution to the creative economy.

Specific suggestions:

  • Participants recommended that art education programs be developed for youth that encourage students to see themselves as potential inventors (e.g., the Youth Fusion project at the Community Learning Center in Point St. Charles taught high school youth to make art videosFootnote 24). Such programs should take into account the diverse economic-social backgrounds of the ESCQ in their respective jurisdictions.
  • Participants suggested that policy mechanisms be created to enable small community groups to ‘borrow’ human resources from urban and large organizations.
  • Another idea of participants was to establish accessible on-line information platforms that allow large and small community organizations to share funding information, policy documents, and the database of cultural workers, experts, consultants, and planners (e.g., Alberta HubFootnote 25). Such information sharing is particularly important to rural organizations that do not have easy access to economic and human resources.
  • Participants proposed the creation of policies that support artists to reach a wider audience (e.g., Arts and Community Culture on the Road Project at ELANFootnote 26).  This project can bring artists closer to the audience, and also it can contribute to building social cohesion among community members.
  • In the view of participants, another useful step would be to foster a creative environment that allows for linguistic duality and facilitates interactions between emerging and established cultural workers, fosters volunteer leadership, and encourages peer support (e.g., Studio XX and Société des Arts Technologiques).
  • Another idea suggested by participants was to create a reward mechanism that fosters professional development in the field of “arts, culture, and community organization.”

Key informant interviews

Key informant interviews spanned two weeks, from March 6th to March 20th, 2012. The team recruited eight participants, including several researchers and representatives from rural and urban organizations. The names of the interviewees are listed at the end of the report.

The objectives of this chapter are threefold:

  1. Identify the key issues raised by the interviewees.
  2. Explain the relationship between these issues and the socio-economic development of the arts, culture, and heritage sectors.
  3. Summarize the suggestions from the interviewees and analyze the implications for the English-speaking communities (ESCQ) in their engagement with the creative economy.

The points conveyed below represent views and opinions of the key informants (also called "interviewees" below). They have been grouped into themes. Please note that they have not been verified for factual accuracy.

Key Issue 1: The linguistic-cultural barrier

According to the key informants interviewed, the English-French language divide is one of the key defining characteristics of many creative economic sectors, especially language-based cultural productions, such as music, literature, and theatre. However, in the opinion of the key informants, artists whose work is not language-based still face many challenges. The language issue is especially complex in the creative economy because cultural communication profoundly influences participation in the creative economy which, informants noted, is increasingly dependent on collaborative efforts. Our interviewees raised four main concerns relevant to how the linguistic-cultural barrier affects the arts, culture, and heritage sectors of the ESCQ.

First, according to the interviewees, the language issue is central to the development of a cultural market. The challenge for English-speaking artists, artisans, and other cultural workers is how to develop viable strategies that can sustain livelihoods in the long run. In the language-based sectors, the ESCQ constitutes both the major producers and consumers of English language cultural goods and services. Our interviewees, especially those from rural areas (where the local consumer market is much smaller than in the urban areas), stressed the importance of building connections with the Francophone audience. At the same time, these artists want to take advantage of their language skills to go beyond the regional creative economy.

Second, the interviews suggest that the linguistic-cultural barrier influences how small ESCQ arts organizations allocate financial and human resources. With limited capital and a desire to build a successful profile for future funding opportunities, key informants indicated that to their knowledge, some arts organizations are impelled to promote non-language based art forms, such as folk dance, visual arts, handicrafts, and instrumental music all of which can attract a Francophone audience. To my knowledge, no systematic study has been carried out to examine where English-speaking cultural workers are concentrated within the creative economy and the factors that shape the forms and scale of their cultural production.

Third, our interviewees unanimously agreed that linguistic communication is embedded in the specific cultural milieu. In the creative economy, communication is manifested through distinct French and English social networks through which individuals locate employment and collaborate with other artists. Interviewees stated that to their knowledge, generally, English-speaking cultural workers stay within their own linguistic social networks and find it difficult to overcome the linguistic-cultural barriers that inhibit them from taking part in French networks.

Fourth, according to the key informant interviewees, the language issue is a factor that shapes ESCQ’s access to funding at the provincial level. Because government documents in Quebec are mostly available only in French, English-speaking cultural workers often find it difficult to fully comprehend Quebecois funding policies. At the same time, our interviewees revealed that in their opinion, English-speaking culture sector workers could not always communicate with provincial funding agencies on an equal footing and they do not feel confident about getting provincial grants. From the viewpoint of our interviewees, it seems that the linguistic-cultural barrier may create a climate of ESCQ distrust of provincial policy and agencies.

Key Issue 2: Cultural Diversity: the Case of Two ESCQ "Newcomer" Groups

The demography of the ESCQ in Quebec has changed significantly since the 1970s (Jedwab 2006)Note de bas de page 27. Recent studies suggest that the English-speaking population is composed of long-established communities as well as so-called “newcomers”Note de bas de page 28 who migrate to Quebec from abroad or from other Canadian provinces.

Several interviewees linked this contemporary characteristic of the ESCQ to the question of the creative economy. In particular, the issue of cultural diversity is considered by these interviewees as central to the development of a vibrant creative economy in urban areas where newcomers are highly concentrated.

First, the interviewees stated their view that current policy and funding organizations do not recognize the significant contributions that certain groups of "newcomers" have made to the creative economy. These newcomer groups are not homogenous but represent diverse backgrounds and varied connections with the creative sectors. In Montreal, our interviewees gave the examples of English-speaking students from out of province, and visible minority artists from the more recently arrived communities identified above. These groups are important consumers of the English language cultural goods and services. However, members of these groups have difficulty in developing careers as cultural producers.

The English-Speaking Student Population Originally from Outside the Province

One of the focus group participants brought to our attention a group often overlooked when we consider ESCQ participation in Quebec's creative economy: English-speaking youth who come from outside the province to study in Quebec. Will Straw, a professor from McGill University interviewed for this study, observed that these students have been major supporters of the music industry, the bar and nightclub scene, the comic book industry, and the video game industry. This student population has also been an important source of volunteer labour for the festivals, ESCQ organizations, and Anglophone media. Professor Straw expressed the view that the new and transient student population is an incredible cultural force in Montreal. However, he observed that these young people, for example, some of his students from McGill University, usually work from two to four years in the creative sectors where they can exist without knowing French well, but they reach a point where they need to earn more to live, buy a house, and/or raise children. Often, they are unable to break into mainstream sectors for higher paying work and have to leave Quebec.

Currently, to my knowledge, no policy explicitly links the issue of retaining the region’s English-speaking university students originating from outside the province to the planning of the creative economy. Possibly an issue to consider if such a policy is to be developed is that a number of the students from out of province speak little or no French. Without effective public interventions, Professor Straw suggested, Montreal likely loses many of these talented English-speaking students (and culture consumers) who leave the city after graduation. In addition, I suggest that it would be valuable to study the roles played by Anglophone youth, who grew up in Quebec, in the local creative economy, including possible barriers to their participation.

Visible Minority Artists from English-Speaking Communities that Arrived in Recent Decades

The past decades saw an expansion of the English-speaking communities with the influx of immigrants from South Asia, East Asia, the Philippines, and the Caribbean. Many of these are members of visible minorities. Interviewees stated that artists from these latter communities confront challenges unique to their professional and cultural backgrounds. The first challenge is that these groups are under-represented on all levels of agency funding down to the curators who assemble exhibitions and organize art events. One interviewee revealed their opinion that few members of juries that evaluate art seem to understand the value of non-European art and/or have the genuine interest and will to support English-speaking visible minority artists.

Second, from the point of view of some interviewees, non-European art is still identified as "folk art" or "too culturally specific" in Quebec. Public cultural venues, such as the Maisons de la Culture, are largely located in the Francophone districts. Interviewees indicated that to their knowledge, most of the venues still do not welcome English-language non-European art. Therefore, this group of artists has more difficulty in finding venues to reach local audiences. Without a thick and prestigious portfolio, these artists are disadvantaged in competing for arts grants and establishing an artistic career in the creative economy.

The third big challenge identified by interviewees is that some funding agencies still lack sensitivity to "traditional" art practices and training. Apprenticeships, for example, appear to be undervalued when compared with university degrees or diplomas. Some visible minority artists who are newcomers with different learning traditions such as apprenticeship-based learning, thus, are not considered for certain arts funding, according to the interviewees.

A key informant stated that recently, different levels of government started two initiatives, Vivacité,Note de bas de page 29 which offers financial support and recognition to visible minority artists, and Diversité artistique Montréal (DAM),Note de bas de page 30 which according to its website promotes "culturally-diverse artists and arts organizations," to address some of the above–mentioned challenges confronted by visible minority artists. According to our interviewee, many visible minority artists are applying for these grants. In my view, however, the socio-economic impacts of these emerging initiatives have not been systematically assessed. Further study of the barriers, including discrimination, faced by visible minority artists, including both old and new generations, will enhance policies designed to foster creative economy in this part of the Anglophone community.

Key Issue 3: The Funding Mechanism

Interviewees stated that individuals and organizations applying for public grants to sustain their work face different challenges. The previous two sections suggest that these challenges are related to the issues of linguistic-cultural barriers and cultural diversity. In this section, I will explain three additional characteristics of the existing funding mechanism.

First, several interviewees stated that it is relatively easy to get start-up funding to carry out a project. They also indicated that such funding is generally not sustainable, however. In order to continue their projects, grassroots organizations spend much time and energy filling out new applications and inventing new projects.

Second, interviewees expressed the opinion that although grassroots organizations are central to the creative economy, they are restrained by a hierarchical funding structure. The general perception among interviewees is that individual English-speaking artists find it especially challenging to access the provincial-level arts funding due to linguistic-cultural barriers. Arts and cultural organizations, on the other hand, can apply for a wide range of arts and other grants (e.g., the federal Young Canada Works program). Thus, grassroots organizations are especially important for emerging artists as these organizations provide artists with opportunities to meet their peers, access basic facilities, and obtain small production funds. However, the interviewees noted that access to economic and human resources are shaped by an organization’s size and geographical location. Interviewees from rural communities generally felt that the urban centers have concentrated institutional, human, and technical support from various sources. These interviewees expressed that individuals and groups active in the rural creative economy want to establish direct relationships with funding agencies. They want to play more active roles with large urban-based organizations in terms of applying for project-based grants.

Third, key informants indicated that in their view, the old categories defined by existing programs no longer capture the complexity of cultural-economic activities on the ground. Our interviewees claimed that in the arts, culture, and heritage sectors, new initiatives should aim not only to ‘preserve’ culture but also to create long-term employment opportunities for local communities. Small grants may create ‘temporary’ jobs for a few and volunteer opportunities for many. The interviews suggest that the project-based approach does not offer a long-term solution to socio-economic development, especially in the economically-depressed rural areas.

Key Issue 4: Socio-economic Development

Grassroots organizations and cultural workers recognize that cultural activities have economic dimensions. According to our interviewees, they question whether or not there is potential in the arts, culture, and heritage sectors to establish creative economies that not only contribute to maintaining local cultural expression but can also resolve some long-standing socio-economic problems of the ESCQ.

Rural Areas

The interviewees who discussed rural areas stated that these communities have been looking for alternative approaches to the development of culture and economic sectors. The interviewees believe that alternative approaches must use existing social networks and expand on-going creative activities. The Chevery Women’s Group craft groupNote de bas de page 31 was cited as an example of a rural form of creative economy. The group, located in Chevery on Quebec's Lower North Shore, has been around for almost 30 years; the members meet and make crafts once a week from May to September. They organize bazaars twice a year to sell their crafts in order to raise money for buying their materials. Also, they use their bazaar earnings to support local charity organizations. Similarly, the Chevery Festival of the Arts, Conference and Trade ShowNote de bas de page 32 intends to establish a creative economy that brings together artists, artisans, tourists, business people, and local buyers. However, our key informants indicated that the main challenges of the organizers of these activities are: 1) the local market for cultural goods and services is small. Tourism does not help much because it is expensive for people to visit Chevery. 2) Local artisans lack experiences in promoting their crafts beyond the region.

The Chevery story suggests that rural communities are developing new livelihood strategies that involve creative inputs and outputs. In addition to the handicraft sector, our interviewees also mentioned that cultural tourism, and alternative agriculture (e.g., organic farming, community-supported agriculture, and residual energy economy) are feasible options for rural communities to connect themselves with the creative economy.

However, in the opinion of our interviewees, these self-initiatives and small-scale endeavors have not yet been recognized. In my view, it would be important to understand how the available human and technical resources can be utilized to form new production networks and how public interventions can get people involved in creative economic activities.

Further, our interviewees stressed that developing rural communities’ ability to connect with institutional, human, and technical resources in urban areas (e.g., education centers and communication infrastructures) would be critical. For example, recently, the Lower North Shore CEDEC helped the Lower North Shore Arts and Culture GuildNote de bas de page 33 set up a Facebook page to market the local handicrafts internationally.

Urban Areas

Interviewees pointed out that in Montreal, some English-speaking artists (e.g., the indie rock band, Arcade Fire) have attained high status in the creative economic sectors. These artists are able to break into the international market and are also accepted by the Francophone audience here at home. In the opinion of the key informants, their success stories demonstrate that English language cultural production in Quebec has great economic potential, and at the same time such creative activity gives voice and identity to the ESCQ. However, in the broader context, urban-based creative economic sectors are under the pressure of intensified commercialization and gentrification. These political-economic factors forcefully shape English-speaking artists’ participations in the creative economy.

According to our key informants, urban gentrification and real estate development have noticeably reduced low-rental housing in neighbourhoods with high concentrations of artists. Recently, in the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal, artists organized themselves to negotiate with the municipal government for preserving affordable space, in particular, lofts on de Gaspé Avenue. From the interviewees’ points of view, the large lofts became not only workplaces but also gave the artists a sense of community, a place where they could support each other. Both Francophone and Anglophone artists are facing a similar situation in regard to housing. However, as the literature suggested, English-speaking artists and cultural workers may find it especially challenging to get government support while fighting for affordable space because of the linguistic-cultural barrier and their alienation from Quebec public politics (the latter has been studied by Blumel and Ravensbergen 2011)Note de bas de page 34. Thus, in the opinion of the informants, it is important to pay attention to provision of space as that increasingly affects English-speaking artists and cultural workers.

Another observation that key informants shared was that hyper-commercialization in the creative economic sectors gives rise to increasingly exploitative work management. Most cultural workers rely on short contracts or assignments to sustain their artistic careers. Under such contracts, cultural workers’ economic rights are often unprotected. Furthermore, according to interviewees, the cultural job market is increasingly intertwined with various social networks. For English-speaking cultural workers, chances of getting well-paid contracts are influenced by an individual’s ability to tap into the local, regional, and international networks of cultural production. With various linguistic-cultural barriers, English-speaking cultural workers often find it challenging to navigate in the Francophone network and to form meaningful connections with Francophone artists.

Interviewees stated that public art schools and professional development centers offer opportunities for Anglophone and Francophone artists to forge multilingual social networks. Key informant Dr. Norma Rantisi, who studies the fashion industry in Montreal, has found that the design school facilitates creative collaborations across the language divide. She argues that education is a leveling experience, bringing together people from different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds in a common space. Accessible and creative training grounds are important places for breaking cultural prejudice and barriers.

Vision for a Positive Future: Key Informant Suggestions for Supporting ESCQ Involvement in the Creative Economy

When asked to suggest recommendations and improvements to the existing creative economy climate for the ESCQ arts, culture and heritage sectors, our interviewees made many points that have been grouped by theme below. These suggestions can be useful to both revising the existing policies and creating new programs; therefore, I do not group these viewpoints into categories, such as "suggestions for policy making" or " suggestions for programming".

Please note that, as has been previously mentioned, the points conveyed below represent views and opinions of the interviewees. They have not been verified for factual accuracy.

The Funding Issue

The interviewees shared many ideas for improving the funding environment in which individual and organizational actors in the ESCQ creative economy operate. These could involve government and community action. Suggestions included:

General suggestions:

  • Interviewees proposed the creation of more sustainable funding structures for grassroots organizations and reduce the burden of writing yearly grant applications on these organizations.
  • In the opinion of interviewees, horizontal relationships among large and small arts organizations and funding agencies should be strengthened.

Specific suggestion:

  • Interviewees suggested the establishment of policy mechanisms that encourage long-term collaborations and exchanges between the provincial government and grassroots cultural organizations, in particular, the visible minority artist groups.

The Diversity and Integration Issue

In order to help address challenges identified around the diversity of the English-speaking creative economy sector and integration with the French-speaking majority creative economy, interviewees collectively outlined a vision for future actions on the part of government and community that include:

General suggestions:

  • Interviewees advocated the creation of policy mechanisms that encourage collaborations between English-speaking and French-speaking communities.
  • Interviewees proposed the creation of accessible learning and professional development centers where the curriculum is fully integrated in terms of exposure to Quebec literature traditions, film, and history.

Specific suggestions:

  • Interviewees also suggested that cultural programs be created that facilitate the linkages between arts communities and students from Concordia University and McGill University (e.g., internship programs).
  • Interviewees advocated increased support for small-scale initiatives and arts events (e.g., the Blue Metropolis Festival) that allow English-speaking cultural workers to find their places among French-speaking communities.
  • Another action proposed by interviewees is to create more public venues and enhance marketing mechanisms for non-European art.

The Economic Development Issue

Finally, interviewees made many suggestions for improving conditions to allow the creative economy to develop and flourish. They included:

General suggestions:

  • Interviewees proposed that more opportunities be created to bring together cultural agents, artists, and artisans of the ESCQ.
  • They also felt that it would be useful if individual creative initiatives were recognized, horizontal networks among them were forged, and more people became involved in these networks.
  • Interviewees also called for the creation of innovative infrastructures that enable rural communities to connect to the institutional, human, and technical resources in urban areas.
  • In the opinion of interviewees, another valuable effort would be to strengthen the connection of ESCQ organizations active in the creative economy with the Quebec government.

Specific suggestions:

  • Another effort proposed by interviewees was support for the establishment of arts and crafts coops in rural areas and develop integrated strategic plans (from training, to employment, to social services) to promote cultural tourism.
  • At the federal level, interviewees also suggested the establishment of ESCQ-oriented creative economy mechanisms in the existing federal government development policy at the provincial level (e.g., create an ESCQ creative economy program within the jurisdiction of Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions)Note de bas de page 35. They also suggested that economic development programs be created to enable ESCQ organizations to access funding from both Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada.

Suggestions for next steps in research

Directions for future research

In this chapter, I describe the directions for future research and explain the rationales behind my proposal. Drawing on this preliminary study, I argue that the issues of Rural Development, the Cultural Workforce, Culture Enterprise, Cultural Diversity, and the Funding Structure require concerted research efforts to fill knowledge gaps and to generate insightful analyses that might be useful for improving the existing policy instruments associated with the ESCQ and the creative economy. My overarching belief is that for researchers and policy makers, it is especially important to re-image English-speaking communities as evolving citizen groups that play indispensable roles in Quebec’s economic-cultural life.

Rural development

In my view, the literature on the creative economy mostly focuses on creative industries and the “creative class” in urban areas. This geographical bias also surfaced during the course of our research. When the focus group was discussing “best practices” in the provincial creative economy, our participants (including the experts on the creative economy) frequently cited urban-based cultural programs and initiatives. Few success stories originated from a rural context. I was able to get a sense of the rural perspective only through in-depth interviews with community organizers from rural areas. These interviews suggest that many rural-based grassroots organizations have already started to experiment with the concept of the creative economy in pursuing their local economic-cultural development agenda. However, no systematic study has been done to document these practices and analyze their socio-economic significance. Furthermore, as one interviewee commented, because the economy of rural Quebec is based on natural resources (e.g., forestry and fisheries), which are largely in decline, it is vital for rural communities to develop alternative and sustainable livelihood strategies. Thus, it is recommended that future research should pay attention to the changing economic and cultural lives of English-speaking communities in rural settings.

The cultural workforce

In recent years, large-scale survey projects on the cultural workforce have been carried out to improve employment policies in Europe and AustraliaFootnote 36. In Quebec, English-language cultural production is on the rise and has potential to generate export revenues. However, there is a shortage of employment statistics and data analysis that examine the labour market of English-speaking cultural workers, in which creative sectors English-speaking workers are concentrated, and what roles ESCQ organizations play in the culture production chains. For example, quantitative research on the Anglophone cultural workforce can be carried out in collaboration with Statistics Canada or the Observatoire de la culture et des communications du Quebéc (an organization under the Institute de la statistique du Quebéc).

More qualitative research needs to be done to develop an understanding of the socio-economic factors that may impede or enhance English-speaking cultural workers’ participations in the provincial creative economy. Especially important is the identification of social factors that might allow these artists to maintain a production base in Quebec while reaching out to international markets.

Alternative culture enterprise

In the past decade, Montreal has witnessed a burgeoning sector of innovative arts and cultural enterprises that blur the traditional boundaries between profit and non-profit sectors. However, little is known about the development patterns of this form of creative economic activity, and the extent to which the ESCQ cultural companies/organizations influence the overall creative economy of Quebec.

In parallel to this, some members of the rural English-speaking communities have adopted advanced information and communication technologies with which they conduct business with clients from other regions. These self-initiatives and small-scale endeavors have not yet been recognized and supported through public interventions. Future studies could examine how these available human and technical resources can be utilized to form new business networks and how public policies can involve people in creative economic activities such as these. In-depth case studies of these phenomena could provide a valuable source of inspiration for defining the roles of public policy in the creative economy.

Cultural diversity

This study shows that in the opinion of our focus group and interview participants, the cultural diversity issue is central to the long-term development of the creative economy. As interviewee Dr. Will Straw, asked, “There are Anglophones of multiple kinds. What is the role of public policy in supporting English-speaking communities?” Future studies on the English-speaking communities should take this question seriously.

In Montreal’s creative economy, a large population of university students and visible minority artists play key roles as consumers and producers of English language cultural goods and services. More research is required to make explicit links between the retention of university graduates in Quebec and the creative economy. Also in-depth ethnographic studies of visible minority artists in the creative economy will be useful in developing effective policies that assist the integration of these artists into the provincial creative economy.

The funding structure

Our interviewees frequently expressed difficulty in comprehending the complex funding structure and programs designed to support the creative economy. They also expressed frustration in dealing with what they consider to be inflexible parameters that define the scope and scale of community projects. These responses suggest the need to conduct a survey on all levels of government programs and policies associated with the creative economic sectors in general, and ESCQ community development in particular.

Finally, it is important to study the effectiveness of these programs/policies as well as the opportunities and challenges that the existing funding structure brings to various English-speaking communities. Additionally, fine-grained (ethnographic) research would be invaluable to assess the local implementations of creative economic policy.

Suggestions for next steps

  • Conduct a survey on the existing programs, initiatives, and policies relevant to the creative economy and the ESCQ.
  • Use the survey research to examine the dynamic relationship between the for-profit and non-profit sectors.
  • Conduct case studies to examine the effectiveness of these programs/policies and their impacts on the socio-economic development of the arts, culture, and heritage sectors of the ESCQ.
  • Conduct case studies on the rural forms of creative economy in relation to the ESCQ.
  • Conduct in-depth interviews with ordinary English-speaking cultural workers who work in the creative economic sectors, including both for-profit and non-profit operations.
  • Use the survey research to understand the complex compositions of English-speaking visible minority arts communities in Quebec and the contributions of these arts groups to the creative economy. Also conduct case studies to explore the links between immigration issues and the creative economy.
    Conduct case studies to explore the development patterns of small culture enterprises, founded by English-speaking entrepreneurs in both for-profit and non-profit sectors of the Quebec economy.
  • Assess the nature and impact of the economic contributions of English-speaking community arts, culture, and heritage activities in Quebec. For instance, obtain information on production of goods and services, job creation, etc.

Annoted Bibliography


The writing of this bibliography involved several steps:

  1. The first step was to identify the literature on creative economy written in Quebec as it relates to the English Speaking Community in Quebec (ESCQ) and its development.
  2. The second step was to consult other studies written on creative economy that will complement our initial findings. We selected high-ranking books and articles written by scholars from economic geography, cultural policy studies, economic development, organizational studies, communications studies, and urban studies.
  3. The third step was to refine the literature reviewed , develop critical understanding of our sources, and sort through the emergent themes. A total of 95 sources have been identified as relevant and clustered in 10 sub-categories.
  4. The fourth step was to narrow down our list and focus on Arts, Culture and Heritage of the ESCQ. The present annotated bibliography covers a total of 48 articles, reports, research papers and books. They are divided into 5 sections: a) policy studies, b) economic development, c) diversity and heritage, d) urbanization and creative class, and e) creative industries. Each section represents a research theme related to the overall concerns of our report and source for further documentation. The overall objective of this section is to present to our readers the concise summary of each source and some assessment of its value or relevance.

Policy Studies

Conference Board of Canada. (2008). Valuing culture: measuring and understanding Canada’s creative economy.

This report introduces us to the term “prosumer.” As it closes the gap between the producer and the consumer this concept reminds us of the creative socio-economy of Quebec that is strongly rooted in collaboration, co-creation, open innovation and citizen-based science. Open manufacturing, open space and open design initiatives based on non-hierarchical organizational structures are slowly growing and gaining popularity representing an alternative to the traditional economic model.

Cunningham, S. (2001). From cultural to creative industries, theory, industry and policy implications, Culturelink. Special Issue, 19–32.

Most often, community groups, policy makers and researchers have different uses and meanings for cultural and creative industries. This article offers a conceptual framework to further debate specific issues of the local creative economy, reminding us that the political debates around cultural right of minorities have little in common with the economic agendas of big industries. After comparing the cultural and the creative industries the author argues that there is nothing “cultural” about the “creative industries” besides the common link of creativity (p.20).

Garnham, N. (2005). From cultural to creative industries: an analysis of the implications of the "creative industries" approach to arts and media policy in the United Kingdom. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 11 (1), 15-29.

Building on Cunningham’s initial research, mentioned above, the author is critiquing the UK’s policies that draw on the status of information technology and communication industries to wrongly justify the cultural sector as a growth area in the global economy. This study signals the differences between the cultural industries that have support from the state and the creative industries that are driven by the markets and consumer’s rules. When mixing the two under the generic term of creative economy, we also need to ponder whether it might result in reduced access and proper funding to culture and heritage for the Quebec’s Anglophones.

Gattinger, M., Saint-Pierre, D. (2008). Can national cultural policy approaches be used for sub-national comparisons? An analysis of the Québec and Ontario experiences in Canada. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 14 (3), 335–354.

Since there is a little comparative research on the topic of sub-national cultural policy, this article assesses the French, British and hybrid cultural policy models to further suggest a long-term analysis on both national and provincial levels. Canadian provinces have various definitions of the creative economy with different industries clustered under this term. There is a need to acknowledge that Quebec’s sub-national cultural policies must address the unique significance of the Anglophone’s arts, culture and heritage within the national and international contexts.

Hesmondhalgh, D., Pratt, A.C. (2005). Cultural industries and cultural policy. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 11 (1), 1-14

Culture is increasingly becoming the central focus of labour and cultural policy makers around the world. This article discusses, among other topics, how public policies affect both the organizational forms of cultural industries and the working conditions of cultural workers. It is an informative read that can help with mapping the tensions surrounding the creative economy sector in Quebec and the understanding of Quebec’s culture as a whole including the English- speaking populations’ art and heritage. This is valuable for those who are interested in creating space for different types of cultural expression - including local, regional and national cultural identities - which might not become important players on the global market, or “make it” as large-scale productions.

KSAR & Associates Inc. for Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities (CIRLM). (2009). Policy dialogue: reviewing key policies in view of the development, challenges & priorities of English-speaking Quebec and identifying preliminary policy gaps requiring community and government exploration, attention and collaboration.

An entire section of this report is dedicated to the arts, culture and heritage of the English Speaking Community of Quebec (ESCQ). The alternative to the exclusion of the Anglophone communities from Quebec’s plans for cultural revitalization is discussed in depth and strategies, government policies and policy instruments are examined. This section informs our research on creative economy and presents the opportunity to think of specific policies and programs that address the unique circumstances of the Anglophone community groups in the arts, culture and heritage sectors.

Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN). (2007). Arts, culture and heritage and the long-term development of the English-speaking communities of the greater Montreal region. [Montreal: QCGN].

According to this report, there is an already identified need to design and implement a multi-year strategy for promoting the cultural resources of the English-speaking communities of the Greater Montreal Area across Quebec, nationally and internationally. Because the English speaking community has limited access to formulation and implementation of policies, the Greater Montreal Community Development Initiative (GMCDI) of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) was created to undertake public participation processes and provide further recommendations.

Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN). (2009). Creating spaces for young Quebecers: strategic orientations for English-speaking youth in Quebec. [Montreal: QCGN].

This document provides strategies for new partnerships, collaboration and increased participation of English-speaking youth in Quebec, aged 16 - 29. Although youth face difficulties integrating into Quebec society, they have a strong sense of attachment to their communities and wish to remain in the province. The report summarizes specific projects generated by youth in many areas including projects related to art, culture and heritage as well as entrepreneurial and business orientated projects.

UNCTAD. (2008). The challenge of assessing the creative economy: towards informed policy making.

A policy-oriented analysis, this report recognizes the economic dimension of culture and its influence on economic development. It also underlines the challenge of assessing the impacts of big creative industries on small companies or independent workers. Given the many dimensions of the creative economy in Quebec, with its multicultural processes, strategic choices for collaborative inter-governmental policy action are crucial.

Vaillancourt, F. (1996). Language and socioeconomic status in Quebec: measurement, findings, determinants, and policy costs. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 121(1), 69–92.

The author talks about how an increasing number of specialists in language issues realized that the types of policies they advocate have financial and labour implications. This article can help us better understand the context for language barriers experienced by some of the English speakers involved in Quebec's creative economy, as discussed in our report.

Economic Development

Blumel, S., Ravensbergen, F. (2011). In the know: a look at the preliminary results of a study on the relationship between community groups serving the English-speaking, bilingual and ethno-cultural communities of the Quebec and the Government of Quebec. Journal of Eastern Townships Studies, 36, 119-136.

This report examines in depth the complex dynamics within the non-profit sector, identifies the diversity of community groups belonging to the ESCQ and underlines the uneven accessibility to provincial funding. In the context of our research, this report can help us understand that the creative economy can align community and economic development, creating long-term solutions to the isolation and poverty experienced by the ESCQ.

Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC). (2012). Report on creative economy in Brampton, Ontario.

This is a report on the creative economy, governance model and consultation initiatives in Brampton. It maps how heritage, arts, and culture initiatives are determined to become the leading contributor to the economic vitality of Brampton. We can find good examples of partnerships formed between the creative sectors of public art, urban planning and dance and other sectors such as engineering and IT support.

De Guerre, D. W., Fauteux, N., Trull, A. S. (2009). The organizational conditions for creativity and innovation: can we apply them to the making of creative communities? In Liedes, O. & Lappalainen, U. (Eds.) The creative economy and beyond conference proceedings (pp. 232 – 247). Helsinki: Creative Industries Finland.

The study discusses the contribution of creative cities to the growth of creative economy and provides an in depth analysis of recent organizational and community research projects in four Canadian cities. Opposing Florida’s view of the creative class, which (as Chapter 1 of our report indicates) some scholars have criticised as relatively elitist, the authors build on the empirical evidence of community building action research projects across Canada involving: participatory community strategic planning, crime prevention through social development, future of education and sustainable energy, theater for living and other citizen engagement interventions. The authors demonstrate that it is through such participatory processes that individual and social creativity foster sustainable economic development.

Leith, L. (2010). Writing in the time of nationalism: from two solitudes to Blue Metropolis. Winnipeg: Signature Edition.

This book analyses in depth how Quebec’s political context negatively impacted the development of the Anglophone arts, culture and heritage, in particular the local English literature. In 1997 the author established Blue Metropolis Foundation, “a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing people from different cultures together to share the pleasures of reading and writing. Created by writers and readers for writers and readers, the Foundation grew thanks to the support of many volunteers, friends and partners” and contributed to the revival of Quebec’s English literature. This book informs our research with an invaluable example of a “prosumer” initiative that gained recognition on the national and international scenes, with ideas for multilingual initiatives and concrete strategies to connect writers across regions.

Markusen, A., King, D. (2003). The artistic dividend: the arts’ hidden contributions to regional development. Minneapolis, MN: Project on Regional and Industrial Economics, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota.

The authors define artists broadly (actors, directors, performance artists, dancers, choreographers, musicians, composers, authors, writers, painters, sculptors and photographers) and underline that artistic careers are highly entrepreneurial. Artists’ creativity and specialized skills enhance the design, production, and marketing of products and services of other sectors. Relevant article on how the policy makers can further examine the arts and its major role in increasing regional economy vitality.

Oakley, K. (2004). Not so cool Britannia: the role of the creative industries in economic development. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 7 (1), 67-77.

The author examines how the promotion of policies for creative industries risks creating polarized and unsustainable economic growth. He argues that urban and regional development is essentially social and political in nature. If policy makers have a goal of turning around economically depressed regions in Quebec, this article is informative of how important it is to connect the economic development projects to both cultural and social policies.

Pocock, J., Warnke, J., Carter, J., (2010). Socio-economic profiles of Quebec’s English-speaking communities. Companion Report to the CHSSN Online Socio-economic Profiles in Quebec. [Quebec City]: Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN).

The Companion Report to the CHSSN Online Socio-economic Profiles explores the current situation of Quebec’s English-speaking communities with respect to three related social determinants of health: income, employment and education. This report is a great resource for our study, since creative economy can offer unique solutions to low-income rates and poverty experienced by the English-speaking communities. Building on the existing knowledge about the level of socio-economic disparity between minority and majority language groups across the province, future policies and entrepreneurial interventions should develop long-term strategies that also promote creativity as a social characteristic that will further generate employment and economic profit.

Rodgers, G., Needles, J., Garber, R. (2008). The artistic and cultural vitality of English-speaking Quebec. In R.Y. Bourhis (Ed.) The Vitality of the English-Speaking Communities of Quebec: From Community Decline to Revival. Montreal, Quebec: CEETUM, Université de Montréal.

This chapter traces the evolution of the English-speaking arts communities in Quebec and their relationship to the English-speaking community of Quebec (ESCQ) and Quebec’s French-speaking community at large. The article is relevant to our research since it informs us about the social changes affecting the English-speaking arts and culture, examines issues shared across the arts such as funding, training and translation, and discusses cultural vitality in the regions outside Montreal.

Taylor, C. (2006). Beyond advocacy: developing an evidence base for regional creative industry strategies. Cultural Trends, 15 (1), 3-18.

Examining the regional creative industry policy making in the UK, the author argues that the focus of the current research base is mainly responding to advocacy groups. He warns that the claims for evidence-based policy will be seriously compromised if they do not address the overlapping political and administrative responsibilities, as well as the involvement of a multitude of stakeholders. It is a reminder for both policy makers and community groups to maintain a systemic and inter-sectorial approach.

Throsby, D. (2004). Assessing the impacts of a cultural industry. Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, 34(3), 188-204.

Analyzing the inter-relationships between stakeholders within and outside the cultural industry, the author looks at the visual art sectors to map the flows of cultural values and frame it in a transactional economic and cultural model of the creative industries. This article allows readers to recognize the dynamics between the social, corporate and public economies.

Diversity & Heritage

Arpin, R., Bergeron, Y. (2006). Developing a policy on cultural heritage for Quebec. Museum International, 58(4), 69-75.

This report emphasizes the development and diffusion of Quebec’s heritage as a collective wealth of dynamic ethno-cultural communities that greatly involves the responsibility of the state on both provincial and federal levels. This is a relevant article for policy makers that recognize both Anglophone and Allophone community groups are part of Quebec’s shared cultural heritage.

Brandellero, A. (2011). The art of being different: exploring diversity in the cultural industries. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Amsterdam.

This dissertation contributes to the understanding of theories concerning the production of culture. It applies them to the case study of cultural diversity and its manifestation in cultural industries. It reveals concepts relevant to our research topic as it explores the cultural industries’ production system and its trans-local dynamics of mass production.

Fernandez, S. (2006). More than just an arts festival: communities, resistance, and the story of Desh Pardesh. Canadian Journal of Communication, 31 (1), 17-34.

The author provides an integrative and multi-dimensional framework for community development through the arts while talking about her implication in the project. Since the Desh Pardesh Festival became part of a powerful transformational change process in Toronto, the article is a demonstration of political avenues for minorities of all kinds, and of building alliances between artists, civil society organizations, small businesses, media, and progressive city councilors.

Jedwab, J. (2006). Unpacking the diversity of Quebec Anglophones. Montreal: Community Health and Social Services Network.

This report presents the multitude of views and needs of Quebec’s Anglophone community. It underlies that further exploration and in depth understanding of its diversity is the alternative to the “one-size-fits-all” policy approach.

Levine, M.V. (1990) The reconquest of Montreal: language policy and social change in a bilingual city. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

In this book, Marc Levine examines the impacts of Bill 101 and Bill 22 on the francization process of the Quebec’s schools, public administration, economy and even commercial signs. The history of Montreal's language offers analysts of urban politics and public policy an excellent case study of some of the central issues facing cities containing more than one major linguistic community.

Maynard, H. (2010). Where do the Anglos work? A review of statistics for employment and training in the English-speaking communities of Quebec. Prepared for the LEAP by Qu’anglo Communications & Consulting.

This report provides an asset map for employability and entrepreneurial development for the English-speaking communities of Quebec. The report is very informative and is a vehicle for knowledge sharing and exchange among the diverse community groups, policy makers and researchers. It can be a good starting point for collaborative action that will respond to service gaps and avoid duplication of efforts across cultural and creative industries in Quebec.

Murray, C. (2002). The third sector: cultural diversity and civil society In Making Connections: Culture and Social Cohesion in the New Millennium (pp. 331-350). Vancouver, BC: Canadian Journal of Communication Corporation.

This book chapter provides an overview of the cultural groups and policy networks in Canadian cultural policy assessing and responding to the growth of several culture coalitions operating throughout the civil society. It is a pertinent read and offers the possibility of rethinking cultural diversity on local, national and international levels.

O'Donnell, S., Perley, S., Walmark, B., Burton, K., Beaton, B., Sark, A. (2009). Community-based broadband organizations and video communications in remote and rural First Nations in Canada. In Stillman, L., Johanson, G., and French, R (eds), Communities in Action (pp. 107-119). Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

This article explores why visual communication is important for First Nations, the prevalence and purposes of videoconferencing in non-institutional settings, and the challenges the communities experience using this technology. The central theme of the article is that videoconferencing is a vital tool for remote and rural communities. The authors talk about the significance of technology and how it should become part of everyday life in communities and not just restricted to telehealth and distance education.

Rodgers, G. (2010). Quebec’s English-speaking artists: reinventing a cultural landscape. Canadian Diversity, 8 (2), 24-29.

This report underlines the emergent identity formation process among Quebec’s English-speaking artists that want to stay in Quebec and become a part of the Quebec society and its cultural scene. We are informed about the latest cultural initiatives for social and economic development undertaken both in Montreal and other regions of Quebec and the dynamism of the local cultural industries.

Urbanization and the Creative Class

Florida, R. (2002). The rise of the creative class: and how tt's transforming work, leisure, community and everyday life. New York : Basic Books; First Trade Paper Edition.

This book created controversy in the academic, political and urban development circles. Its author was either recognized as a cool-cities guru, or was labeled as a new-economy opportunist. Florida’s research became popular among the urban policy-makers by advocating that creativity belongs to an educated class formed by everybody with higher education, such as scientists, engineers, architects, educators, writers, artists, and entertainers. In his society there are three kinds of people: the super creative core (SCC), the creative professional (CP), and non-creative class (NC). According to this model, the creative core and the creative professionals’ economic function is to create new ideas, new technology, and new creative content. This book is relevant to our research as a reminder that a) creativity and education are Canadian values that historically are used to create national identity, and b) artists and other creative segments of the population might be disadvantaged by the process of gentrification rather then beneficiaries of the “cool” neighbourhoods that Florida discusses in his book.

Florida, R. (2005). The flight of the creative class: the new global competition for talent. New York : Harper Business.

Expanding his earlier arguments regarding the 3 T’s of engaging cities, "technology, talent, and tolerance”, Florida looks at social and cultural environments that attract and retain the creative class within countries. He addresses the rising global competition for talent, and is concerned that the United States is no longer attracting the top of the entrepreneurial, innovative, scientific, artistic and cultural talent to fuel economic development and growth. He signals that the non-arrival or the flight of the creative class should be of great concern to Americans since the most creative, educated professionals are now gravitating towards countries that are more tolerant to diversity, and offer more lifestyle opportunities such as New Zealand, Scandinavia and Canada. Analyzing the global flows of labour, his book might unexpectedly help us think of ways to tap into the full creative capabilities of the Anglophone community in Quebec.

Markusen, A. (2006). Urban development and the politics of a creative class: evidence from a study of artists. Environment and Planning, A. 38 (10), 1921–1940.

Although artists have a positive impact on economic growth and urban development, it is unnerving to think they have the same opportunities with others in the “creative class” such as bankers, scientists, lawyers or engineers. The author argues that by bringing unrelated occupations under the same “creative class” category, we intentionally forget that historically, artists represent powerful sources of social innovation, political activism and community building. This article is relevant in bringing to light political and economic interests that often remain unclear during the artistic process. It is especially useful when we talk about the Anglophone Québécois artists, some of whom face language and other barriers in the province, as our report has discussed.

Peck, J. (2005). Struggling with the creative class. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29(4), 740–770.

In this article, Peck is trying to name the networks and structures that concretely benefit, both economically and politically, from advancing policies that use vague and inconsistent terms such as “productive creativity,” “creative class,” “cultural industries” and the like. The author is skeptical about the soft discourse of the newfound age of creativity. In his opinion, such a speech/discourse is deceiving civil society and government about the immaculate world of creative industries and masks the hypercompetitive, consumption-orientated markets in which it operates.

Rantisi, N. M., Leslie, D. (2010). Materiality and creative production: the case of the Mile End neighborhood in Montreal. Environment and Planning, A. 42(12), 2824-2841.

Drawing on their studies of the fashion and graphic design sectors in Montreal, the authors discuss the roles of material factors, such as loft-style buildings, low-cost rents, and public space, in fostering creative production in an artist neighborhood. The paper argues that material conditions are central to sustaining the creative economy in Montreal. This case study demonstrates that public interventions can help support the establishment of affordable workplaces and housing to create opportunities of diverse collaborations and artistic practices.

Ray, P. H., Anderson, S. R. (2000). The cultural creatives: how 50 million people are changing the world (illustrated ed.). New York: Harmony Books.

The focus of this book is to create awareness of the Cultural Creatives movement represented by people from all classes, races, education income levels and social backgrounds. Since the planetary crisis can also be seen as an opportunity for profound transformational change, the creative economy should be based on shared values, should include public interest into corporate decision-making, and should also honour spiritual, educational and ecological needs. The authors encourage us to join this movement that has the potential to change the world by creating new institutions that foster good life for everybody, locally and globally. This book is relevant to our research topic if we are to contextualize the foundations of a new, creative yet inclusive economy in Quebec.

Ribichesi, C., Polèse, M., Shearmur, R., et Dussault,G. (2008). L'économie du savoir dans la ville de Québec: revue de littérature et analyses empiriques. Document produit dans le cadre d'un contrat de recherche avec la Ville de Québec. Montréal: INRS-Urbanisation, Culture et Société.

This comprehensive study is structured in three parts: a) an in depth literature review of the knowledge economy and its cultural sectors, b) a comparative analysis among the knowledge economy of Quebec’s and other North American cities, and c) an investigation of the creative sectors and their characteristics as they relate to the knowledge economy within Quebec City’s territory. The article is relevant to our research because it informs us of the challenges of transitioning from an industrial to knowledge-based model and proposes action plans for the development of the Quebec’s knowledge based economy.

Scott, A.J. (2000). The cultural economy of cities: essays on the geography of image-producing industries. London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Scott analyses in this book how culture became a currency for the cultural industries around the world. Creativity is the new engine of the modern economy, as the modern aesthetic and symbolic packaging is needed to market mass-produced cultural goods and services. Current models for urban governance evolved in order to accommodate these changes and the current role of the global city is to perpetuate the creative and innovative energy of the cultural economy. Since cultural production is mainly seen as connected to location, urban concentration and economic development, the book is relevant to our study when we address limits to the opportunities of Anglophone artists living in rural areas of Quebec.

Creative Industries

Beck, A. (2003). Cultural work: understanding the cultural industries. London; New York: Routledge.

This book traces the historical and contemporary ideas of the cultural economy. The essays examine: a) the conditions in which the cultural work emerged; b) the management of labour in the creative industries; c) the organization of cultural work; d) the representation of cultural work. Written by researchers and practitioners, this book offers insights into the dynamic character of cultural markets, the increasing diversity of creative labour, and how culture is distributed and reused through new media technologies. The contributors look at a wide range of creative sectors, including television, popular music, live performance, radio, and film production. These case studies are highly relevant to Quebec’s creative labour market.

Caves, R. E. (2000). Creative industries: contracts between art and commerce. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

This book discusses the economics of the creative industry: the production, distribution, financing and consumption of goods and services that rely on creative inputs and outputs. The author argues that despite differences in their organization and aesthetic properties, creative industries share the same underlying organizational logic. Both small and large firms contain common attributes such as infinite variety, high fixed costs, property rights, and especially the nobody-knows-what-consumers-will-buy attitude. In some cases, creative ventures facing high fixed costs turn to local, non-profit organization for inexpensive labour.

Cooke, P., Morgan, K. (1999). The associational economy: firms, regions, and innovation. Oxford, England; New York: Oxford University Press.

The term “associational economy” captures the continuous adaptation of the creative industry to global economic changes. The author describes an interactive model between the state and market and analyzes inter-firm networks, through which the knowledge is transferred from local organizations to regional and transnational institutions. Based on numerous cross-national studies of the creative industries, regional and localized innovation networks, and regional innovation systems, this book demonstrates the uneven distribution of the creative industries across regions and is relevant to the question of the rural-urban divide of the creative economy in Quebec.

Dorland, M. (1996). The cultural industries in Canada: problems, policies and prospects. Toronto: J. Lorimer & Co.

This collection of essays presents international and national perspectives towards Canada’s cultural industries and explores the questions of culture, industry, and relevant policies in the past 50 years. The book compiles a comprehensive overview of historical and legislative references and provides a thorough analysis of the print industries, sound industries, image data industries, and policy. In the concluding chapter, Dorland discusses the tensions in Canada’s nationalistic cultural framework, for example the conflicts between the federal and Quebec government. He also examines the commodification of culture amid the rise of neo-liberalism in Canada and proposes a post-nationalistic approach to Canadian cultural policy.

Flew, T. (2011). The creative industries: culture and policy. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.

This book charts the history of creative industries from 1990 to present. The topics include: a) the origins and international models of creative industry policy, b) the transition of cultural industries to cultural economy, c) the economics of creative work; d) markets, technology and trade; e) globalization and creative spaces, f) industrial and public policies. Flew rejects the claim that creative industries are a product of neo-liberalism and argues that the creative industries will face development challenges in the near future. This book offers a historical perspective for envisioning the future development of the creative economy in Quebec.

Hartley, J. (2005). Creative industries. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.

This book focuses on the production of mass produced cultural goods that are distributed globally and marketed by new technologies. The book compiles essays of experts on creative economy and covers several economic sectors, including book publishing, TV production, urban development, and games. The authors explore the concepts that have come to define the creative industries including learning services, knowledge clusters, creative cities, networked incubators, the new media, and the shift from the “culture industries” to the “industries of culture.” The book contains a variety of perspectives on creative economy that could be extended to the creative industries of Quebec.

Howkins, J. (2001). The creative economy: how people make money from ideas. London: Allen Lane.

This book was the first to discuss the notion of the creative economy, its importance and how to make sense of this economy. Howkins explores the many facets of creativity, discovers surprising facts and numbers about the creative economy, interviews high-profile creative people, and explains the complexity of patent and copyright law. He offers self-help tips to managers seeking to raise the element of creativity in their business and identifies rules for successful entrepreneurs.

Huws, U. (ed.) (2007). The spark in the engine: creative work in the new economy. Blackpoint, Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishing.

This book is an invitation for workers of all sorts to overcome the precarious labour conditions perpetuated by corporations and policy makers by putting their idealism, energy and originality into creating systemic change and designing alternative social and economic models. The book argues that the current creative economy model tends to exploit, standardize and quantify the most important resources of capitalism: innovation and creativity. It is important for all of us to see from a different perspective, how commercialization of arts does not always positively contribute to the development of the new, creative economy.

Leslie, D., Rantisi, N. M. (2011). Creativity and place in the evolution of a cultural industry: the case of Cirque du Soleil. Urban Studies. 48(9), 1771-1787.

This article uses evolutionary economics as a tool to explore how the geographical and historical resources in Quebec contribute to the evolution of Montreal’s circus industry. The authors analyze the path and place dependent conditions that shaped Canada’s best known cultural export, Cirque du Soleil. This case study is useful for the ESCQ to understand their development challenges and opportunities in the creative economy.

Miller, T. (2010). "Culture + labour = precariat." Communications and Critical/Cultural Studies, 7 (1), 96-99.

In response to the rise of creative economic sectors, Miller identifies that an increasing number of cultural workers are subject to a) flexible exploitation characterized by low pay, lack of security, intermittent income, and b) high risk of social exclusion because of low incomes, welfare cuts and high cost of living. He argues that this condition of precarity negatively impacts the economy, society at large but particularly youth, women and immigrants. This argument is useful to linking the questions of immigration and gender to creative economy policy.

Ross, A. (2009). Nice work if you can get it: life and labor in precarious times. New York: New York University Press.

This book analyzes the profound changes in the international labour market, especially within the knowledge and creative sectors where employees are hired on a part-time basis. Lack of protective legal frameworks and inadequate salaries are contributing to the precarious employment conditions that are no longer temporary but the norm in the new creative economy. Ross’s analysis provides an important perspective towards the labor issues in the creative industries.



  • Dr. Lorraine O’Donnell is coordinator-researcher at Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN), Concordia University. A historian by training, she was the curator for “Being Irish in O’ Québec” exhibit (2008-2010) and head researcher for Shalom Québec, a 3-D online history exhibit on Quebec city’s Jewish community.
  • Dr. Tracy Y. Zhang is research associate from the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University. In 2010, she received her doctoral degree form the School of Communication, Simon Fraser University. Currently, she is conducting a postdoctoral research project on transnational cultural labour policies in the case of Cirque du Soleil. Her research interests include theory and history of cultural policy, feminist political economy, cultural work and labour, and creative industries.
  • Aurelia Roman has collaborated on multi-disciplinary research and consulting projects including several with the English Speaking Community in Quebec. Her academic background is in law and human systems intervention and she is going to pursue PhD studies in social innovation. Her research interests include social policy, local governance, and civic engagement.
  • Jennifer Chapman is a recent graduate in Political Science. She currently holds an internship position at the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling.

Research Participants

  • Cynthia Dow, Cynthia Dow Consultant
  • Cheryl Gladu, owner EcoCité Developments, Concordia University, Department of Management
  • Don de Guerre, Concordia University, Department of Applied Human Sciences
  • Satoshi Ikeda, Concordia University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, holds the Canadian Research Chair in Political Sociology of Global Futures
  • Hilary Leftick, executive producer of POP Montreal
  • Linda Leith, founder of Blue Metropolis Festival, president at Linda Leith Publishing Inc.
  • Michael Lenczner, CEO Ajah
  • Janet Lumb, artistic director of Accès Asie
  • Peter MacGibbon, vice-chair of Theatre Wakefield and vice-president on the ELAN (English Language Arts Network) board of directors
  • Hugh Maynard,president at Qu'anglo Communications & Consulting, fellow at LEAD International, CANADA
  • Ana Osborne, Development Officer of the Netagamiou Community Learning Centre
  • Norma Rantisi, Concordia University, Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment
  • Bill Reimer, Concordia University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology
  • Richard Shearmur, L’institut national de la recherche scientifique, INRC
  • John Stokes, co-founder of Montreal Start Up
  • William Straw, McGill University, Department of Art History and Communication Studies and director at McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

Focus Group Protocol

Focus Group Session I

Objective: Solicit views and theories of the creative economy, and their relevance to the social-economic development of the arts, culture, and heritage sector of the ESCQ.

  1. How do you apply your concept/theory of the creative economy in your work (e.g., research, planning, business)?
  2. Montreal has been cited as the model creative city, what aspects of the Quebec creative economy are relevant to the arts, culture and heritage sector of the English-speaking communities? How does this sector contribute to overall Quebec development?
  3. cWhat factors might affect the ESCQ’s participations in the creative economy? (e.g. education, social services, poverty, and urban gentrification)

Focus Group Session II

Objectives: Produce recommendations for future development in the arts, culture and heritage sector of the ESCQ

  1. d) What are the existing federal and/or provincial policies, programs and/or initiatives that promote Quebec’s creative economy?
  2. e) Which individuals or organizations would you identify as leaders within Quebec in the application of Creative Economy theory to cultural and community development?
  3. f) What examples would you cite as a successful application of Creative Economy theory to cultural and community development within the ESCQ?
  4. g) What are your recommendations for policy makers and community organizers?

Key Informant Interview Protocol

For experts on the creative economy:

  • What is your understanding of the term “creative economy”? In your research, how do you apply this concept of the creative economy to analyze recent economic transformation?
  • Could you name a few Quebec-based researchers who have expertise in this field? Could you recommend any key works about Quebec’s creative economic sectors?
  • What form does Quebec’s creative economy take? What are some current policy models and practices of the Quebec creative economy?
  • What is the situation of the English-speaking communities in Quebec’s creative economic sectors?
  • From your perspective, what are the opportunities and challenges that the current creative economic policy models and programs have brought to different English-speaking communities in Quebec? Could you give any examples that you know of?
  • What are your recommendations for policy makers and English-speaking community organizers?

For experts who are knowledgeable about the English-speaking communities in Quebec:

  • Could you briefly describe what kind of research that you have conducted with the English-speaking communities in Quebec?
  • Based on your research and knowledge about the English-speaking communities in urban and rural Quebec, what is the situation of these groups in the creative sectors in terms of training opportunities, employment conditions, and career/business development?
  • Do you know any program or policy that support English-speaking communities in these sectors? If so, could you give us any example?
  • From your perspective, what are the opportunities and challenges that the current creative economic policy models and programs have brought to different English-speaking communities in Quebec? Could you give any example?
  • What are your recommendations for policy makers and English-speaking community organizers?

For community organizers and others:

  • Could you tell us about your career and your participation in Quebec’s English-speaking communities?
  • What is your understanding of the term “creative economy”? How do you see the relationship between your work and the creative economy?
  • Have you received any form of government support that enables you to advance in your field? Could you give any example? (e.g., federal, provincial, and municipal level support).
  • What are the opportunities and challenges that you have encountered while pursuing your career in your field?
  • Based on your observation, do you think English-speaking groups have particular barriers or potentials in the ‘creative economic’ sectors?
  • What are your recommendations for policy makers and English-speaking community organizers?