EUNIC Montréal: better, together
A bridge between cultures, newly created EUNIC Montréal regroups European national institutes located in Montreal.
National institutes are a well-known way for European countries to promote their cultures in other countries, and Quebec is no exception. The Goethe-Institut Montreal, Istituto italiano di cultura à Montreal, Consulat général de France à Québec, and Ottawa’s Forum culturel autrichienare are all perfect examples of this phenomenon. In the image of the European Union itself, the four aforementioned individual entities will work together to integrate, here in Montreal, the EUNIC global network (EUNIC being the European National Institutes for Culture).
Established in 2006, this regrouping of European Union member countries’ cultural institutes represents 23 nations, and is active in 150 countries, operating 2,000 “clusters”. EUNIC Montréal will be Canada’s third cluster, following those in Toronto and Ottawa. EUNIC Montréal’s specific objectives are to create closer ties with European national cultural institutes and Quebec-based partners— who have yet to be determined.
The overall goal? To promote understanding of both the European Union and Europe itself in Montreal, as well as in Quebec and in Canada’s Maritime provinces. What forms will this promotion take? Take your pick: development of the arts, language, and science, encouragement of intercultural dialogue, innovation, knowledge transfer, and an emphasis on cultural diversity. How will these interesting aspects become reality? Little by little, through EUNIC Montréal’s varied and appealing cultural activities.
The independent institutes that comprise the cluster will also rely on it to enhance their performance. “Formal and informal meetings among members create a reliable way to discuss and exchange regularly,” explains Katja Melzer, President of Goethe-Institut Montreal, and of EUNIC Montréal. “The EUNIC framework will enable us to work with colleagues in Brussels to discuss best practises, and also we’ll be able to access funds that support cultural projects. All of these elements together will help us to be more strategic within cultural and academic networks.”
For the time being, EUNIC Montréal is in its infancy— but other cultural organizations are more than welcome to join. “We’re just establishing ourselves, and we’re very open to having others join us. People are free to approach us and inquire as to what we can accomplish together. For example, if artists have projects in mind, they can certainly contact us!” confirms Melzer. EUNIC Montréal members will participate in some of Montreal’s festivals, and specifically participate in the film sector—for example by presenting European films. EUNIC Montréal also seeks to work in the university realm, for example by supporting exchanges between
European and Quebec-based entities, that centre around artistic endeavours. There’s also interest in knowledge transfer related to cultural production and digital archives. “We can organize conferences to explore these questions in greater depth,” adds Melzer.
Last November when EUNIC Montréal was launched, European Union Ambassador to Canada Peteris Ustubs, had this to say: “Culture is a powerful tool that builds bridges between individuals by cultivating dialogue, openness of spirit, dignity and mutual respect. Intercultural dialogue can even contribute to conflict prevention, and assist reconciliation between countries.” Now that’s a bridge worth crossing!
Text: Guy Sabourin