Saturday, March 25, 2023

Minister of Culture: instructions for use

Four months after his arrival at the head of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, Mathieu Lacombe presented himself for the first time. At last he spoke of the hot shafts which are on his desk.

Of course, how Quebec wants to file federal Bill C-11 is at the top of the bill regulating online streaming. We have put some political opportunism. Be slow to judge others. A sword in the water, think pessimists.

But in a group of observers, including myself, the Quebec government has the right to assert its cultural identity. For the moment Mathieu Lacombe is entitled to silence Pablo Rodriguez, the Canadian heritage minister, responsible for implementing this law. Are we surprised?

I am looking forward to meeting Mathieu Lacombe. In January, during an interview, I was asked for patience. On Wednesday in the offices of La Presse, the minister was answering questions about his great interest.

Because of this it must be said that if his predecessor Nathalie Roy had to manage the crisis, Mathieu Lacombe is responsible for putting the train on track. It won’t get any easier.


Mathieu Lacombe

Of the Blue Spaces, a controversial concept from which he inherited, he swore to me that he believed in its power 100%. Allow me to doubt… He refuses to talk about his deployment time, but we understand that tomorrow is not the day before we will see the entire network of 18 spaces.

In the post-pandemic support that the cultural community hopes to see extended, he confirms that “he will not let go” after the budget next March 21. In the inflation of costs in infrastructure projects, he recognizes that great care is required.

In this regard, Mathieu Lacombe will have to observe several issues: the Musée d’arte contemporain (from the file he has before the Montreal office), the movement of the Maison Théâtre, the renovation of the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde. , blue spaces projects… All this could be affected by the growth in the construction sector.

But I am most looking forward to hearing from him about his vision of culture in Quebec. Mathieu Lacombe raised his hand to get this service. What do you want with that? What are his priorities? At the moment we have often heard him say that he wants to give young people a taste of culture. But still?

“In addition to the fact that I love our artists and what we produce, I believe that the culture of Quebec society is greater than the language. What makes us Quebecers? It is our culture, otherwise we can become Parisians or Belgians. I think my role is to ensure that our culture can endure into the future. It may sound general, but I have this goal in mind every time I plan. »

Mathieu Lacombe can rightly say that culture is “the foundation on which everything else is built”. But how can a minister pour this cement in a few years? Like other ministries, Culture is a game of musical chairs. Go back to the list of successive ministers of culture since 1961 in Quebec and you will be amazed.

Minister Of Culture: Instructions For Use


Mathieu Lacombe

Others are frequent for a couple of years or a few months. It is not for nothing that, when we cite “legacy” as an example, it is mainly by ministers who have served with a full mandate (Mathieu Lacombe also mentions the Société de développement des entreprises culturelle, or SODEC, the legation of Liza Frulla). To this “long reign” we can add Georges-Émile Lapalme (the first one), Clement Richard, Lise Bacon, Agnes Maltais, Linea Beauchamp, Christina St-Pierre and Hélène David.

We observe the same in France. Have you ever noticed the historical achievements of André Malraux and Jack Lang, two ministers who occupied the seat of Culture for about ten years?

Both federally and provincially, the Ministry of Culture is too often regarded as a consolation prize, a middle position, while waiting for something better. There have been firm and visionary Ministers of Culture and others who have gone down in history for less than rosy reasons.

In 2017 I met Jean-Noël Tremblay, who played this role from 1966 to 1970. Fifty years after the creation of Les Belles-sœurs, the worthy voice of the Brothers of the Christian Schools told me this piece by Michael Tremblay. not “real theater”. I could not believe my ears.

A flash transition (February 1972 to February 1973) by Claire Kirkland-Casgrain (parodied by Dominique Michel in Bye Bye 72) gave the idea to the literary magazine Jeune Théâtre to compete: “I found the name of another (or the next) Minister of Cultures.”

There are rare cases in which experts from the world of culture are recruited in campaigns in anticipation of this role, as it happens in candidates who have a solid knowledge of law, economics, health or education.

And then, a few days before the announcement of those who will keep the service, they do one of the wonders that they do best in culture and communication. Sixty years after this family was founded by Jean Lesage, it is time to start seeing things on the opposite side of the river.

Minister Of Culture: Instructions For Use


Mathieu Lacombe

A few months after his arrival at the Ministry of Culture and Communications, Mathieu Lacombe admits that he had a “very romantic” vision of his new role. “Every day, I know there are piping issues. »

In saying this, he acknowledges the great particularity of this ministry. Culture is a world of dreams, creations, innovation and dishonesty. But it is also an industry that experiences crises, experiences ups and downs and whose requests are as many as they are different.

It is dangerous to neglect one or the other of these things. A minister of culture must know how to dream and make people dream. but you also care about screws and bolts. And God knows if the world of humanity has taken the form of an ornament to be collected in these years.

Mathieu Lacombe is the 29th minister of culture that Quebec knows. We hope that he will quickly become accustomed to the instructions for use so that he can successfully pour his cement in full command.

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