Quebec’s creative industries and the pandemic

Summary of findings from an initial exploratory survey deployed between April 2 and June 2, 2020.

The aim of this survey is to get a sense for how covid is affecting the confidence of creative workers across Montreal in their current industry models, with the less obvious intention of examining how the situation is exacerbated by pre-existing systemic, organizational, and socioeconomic conditions.

These are unusual times for creative work. Even as activities cautiously resume, it’s not clear what the outcome will be for the creative industries. Undoubtedly, particular sectors of Montreal’s creative industries such as post-production, games, dubbing, and animation will be affected for some time. Live music, cinema screenings, theatre performances, all manner of festivals and the venues that host them are contemplating major alterations of their business models. A few months ago, the fear of contagion brought about an abrupt interruption of all production activities by official decree. Microphones were switched off, cameras stopped recording, and projector lights went dark across the country. Live events were cancelled.

At that moment I asked a few acquaintances in the post-production community to help me understand how this situation was affecting their work, with the inkling that whenever things did eventually to get back to normal, it would not be the old normal. The resulting report aims to make the struggles of talent, producers, and craft workers more visible and, it is hoped, inform future action from various institutional and organizational stakeholders such as trade unions, media corporations, and funding agencies. It will help put into perspective some of the successful and not so successful ways that industry and government players have been dealing with the crisis. It further aims to reveal structural tensions and fault lines in the political economy of local creative work, helping us make sense of the impending “new normal” that, we are told, is presently being forged at a global scale. Perhaps knowing more about how this novel normalization comes to pass can also allow us to have a small say in its realization.

The key takeaway, unsurprisingly, is that the vast majority of participants expressed curiously dissonant combinations of hope and uncertainty, wavering between optimism and sombre expectations for the impending “new normal.” They also reported having been bombarded with similar surveys from government organizations, trade unions, and other entities related to the creative industries. In an upcoming article I follow up on those other findings.

[View preliminary findings]

Theo Stojanov
Media Industries researcher
PhD candidate | Cinema | Concordia University | Mediawerks