Cultural Review 2020: the arts forced to reinvent themselves

Troubling, frustrating, stressful … The year 2020 will have left a bad taste in the mouths of a host of artists and craftsmen in the entertainment world. Hit hard by the pandemic and containment, knocked to the ground even, the arts have had no choice but to rise up by rallying their strengths and developing new ideas. Months marked by reinvention.


The actors who have taken the stage have, for a short period this fall, been able to deliver loud and clear dialogues and monologues. On the other hand, it was in front of a very small audience, the rooms having to imperatively reduce their capacity to a third or a quarter of their maximum configuration because of sanitary measures.

Driven by the desire to provide a dose of culture despite everything, the directors of some theaters have set their sights on webcasting, allowing everyone to have access to several plays and collaborations announced at the start of the season. While the mood was certainly not the same, this solution kept the texts alive and made up for the lack of packed rooms.

To Montreal, All the perfect things, at Duceppe, and Zebrina, a piece of evidence, at the TNM, are among the rare productions that have been able to hold a “face-to-face” premiere.


Archive photo, QMI Agency (Joël Lemay)

The shoots took their cold on the small screen, because it was necessary to make a cross on the braces, the hugs and the kisses in the series. Already the schedule on the sets was tight …

Never mind, protective equipment (visors, plexiglass, etc.) were purchased, people from the same bubble were hired (such as Sébastien Diaz and Bianca Gervais in The countries above) and the participation of viewers was sometimes privileged (at home!), as in Live from the universe or The goose that lays golden eggs, while the winners went into ecstasies from a distance.

Large production teams, such as The voice in Quebec, or The Voice in the United States, have managed to adapt to the absence of the public, have respected the health and distancing standards in force, in addition to meeting the challenges of live. With our neighbors to the south, coach John Legend was even able to keep some contact with his candidates thanks to a plastic glove installed at the end of a stick … It cannot be invented.

The music

Facebook Damien Robitaille

Deprived of the dose of adrenaline that the stage and a large audience provide, several singers have continued to create and, above all, to reach out to audiences. There are now no more concerts offered on the web, whether via Facebook, official sites or various platforms.

Just think of Damien Robitaille and his delightful daily videos, where he alone plays various instruments to revisit striking tunes. Also, even if they could not taste the joy of filling large amphitheatres, stars have succeeded each other to launch, online, complete albums, as well as a number of new extracts.

In Quebec, thanks to shows recorded at the Yoop space or relayed live – as with -, among others, the music has continued to reach our ears.

During the summer, artists’ ingenuity took the form of meetings in drive-ins – where honking replaced applause! -, and even on the water, on floating docks, as singer Stéphanie Bédard did.


The ban on generating rallies has obviously plagued many external events.

Among them, the annual High Mass at Osheaga and the traditional Festival Western de Saint-Tite, which could not take place last summer in the province. Not wanting to fall victim to COVID-19 either, other organizers rolled up their sleeves and chose to present virtual and scaled-down editions of their date.

Artists from various regions have thus been able to shine online thanks to modified but still loaded proposals, like the Festival international de la chanson de Granby, the Festival des traditions du monde de Sherbrooke, the Festival international de Jazz de Montréal. or at the Just for Laughs Festival.

Without being able to broadcast original content, other events may have dug into their archives and delivered a welcome digest of culture.


Mathieu Dufour

Courtesy photo

Mathieu Dufour

While the pandemic was no laughing matter, many comedians figured out that we had to find a way to dilate our spleen and forget about our problems, even for half an hour or an hour.

Just a month after being confined, Phil Roy launched the WiFi Comedy Club so that, in the comfort of their own homes, people could listen to comedians telling jokes and funny stories.

Over the months, a rain of short videos of all kinds has also descended on social networks and YouTube channels.

Arnaud Soly and Mathieu Dufour, aka Matt Duff, grabbed the buck and offered hilarious daily meetups to their fans on Instagram.

Some artists took the opportunity to tease their colleagues and others took to the air, such as Sylvain Larocque, who went so far as to present acts to elderly people gathered on the balconies of their residence.


Enjoying the works and exhibitions as you please while letting yourself be carried from one museum room to another is unparalleled. On the other hand, all the achievements and objects steeped in history that are kept in places of culture can be expressed differently, even if the “real” visits have been more complex this year.

As proof, prestigious places like the MoMA, the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles had already succeeded in inviting people to virtual spaces. Here, the web doors of the McCord Museum and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec have also opened, without forgetting that various activities have been offered for download.

Anxious to promote the exhibitions, which, they hope, will soon receive visitors in the flesh, various museums have already invited journalists, by appointment, to discover the expected novelties.

The movie theater

Actors Robin L'Houmeau, Éléonore Loiselle, Caroline Néron and Kelly Dépeault, with director Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette and author Geneviève Pettersen on the red carpet during the presentation of the film La déesse des mouches à feu, the September 17, at the Quebec City Film Festival.

Photo courtesy, Photobox Studio

Actors Robin L’Houmeau, Éléonore Loiselle, Caroline Néron and Kelly Dépeault, with director Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette and author Geneviève Pettersen on the red carpet during the presentation of the film La déesse des mouches à feu, the September 17, at the Quebec City Film Festival.

Almost at a standstill in cinemas for several months now, the seventh art has gained some momentum thanks to the release of Tenet by Christopher Nolan. But the feature film did not generate the revenue expected by the giant Warner.

In Hollywood, we therefore bet big on the wide range of distribution platforms, offering multiple titles for purchase (The Trolls 2 – world toure and Wonder Woman 1984, among others) as well as video on demand.

For their part, many releases from Quebec cinema have been postponed, and the stay in The goddess of fire flies, by Anais Barbeau-Lavalette, had an abrupt end to the October containment after only one week on the bill.

Fortunately, due to the staging of virtual events, such as the Fantasia International Film Festival and the Montreal International Black Film Festival, big screen masterminds enjoyed great showcases.

In addition, television channels have made good use of the rights to many feature films from here and elsewhere. Télé-Québec, among others, recently spoiled us with gems such Gaz Bar Blues, by Louis Bélanger.

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