Montréal’s Vision to Towards a Sustainable and Inclusive City
Montréal is the largest city in Québec, home to over two million residents and more than 120 different ethnic communities
Montreal is renowned for its vibrant arts and culture scene. In 2006, it earned the UNESCO City of Design designation. The city boasts a year-round cultural calendar filled with globally attended festivals and events. In winter, Montreal en lumière stands out as one of the world’s largest winter festivals, while summer features the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal and the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, both drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Internationally, Montreal is recognised for its circus industry and community, with approximately 2,000 people passing through the Cité des Arts du Cirque daily, a hub dedicated to contemporary circus study and performance.
At the heart of the city’s cultural offerings lies the Quartier des Spectacles cultural district. Formerly Montreal’s red-light area, it now houses 85 institutional and cultural partners, including performance venues, museums, galleries, cinemas, and cultural centres, along with a series of outdoor public spaces. This area supports 450 cultural businesses and over 7,000 creative workers. In addition to this central hub, Montreal is prioritising cultural development and investment at the neighbourhood level through its Cultural Neighbourhoods program and Montreal’s Maisons de la Culture Network. The city is also revitalising libraries into mixed-use cultural centres throughout the city.
The Role of Policymaker
Montreal’s cultural policy is shaped by the actions and directives of organisations like the Conseil des Arts de Montreal (Montreal Arts Council), Culture Montreal, the Government of Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communications, and the Metropolitan Community of Montreal. The city’s cultural policy aligns with the Province of Quebec’s regional cultural policy, Politique Partout, la Culture (Policy Everywhere, Culture).
Montreal has introduced several new policies and programs to connect with its history and envision a more sustainable and equitable future. In 2021, it launched the Plan d’action en matière de valorisation de la langue française 2021-2024, its first action plan for promoting the French language across the city. Additionally, Montreal introduced the Montreal 2030 strategic plan, covering four priority areas: climate change, resilience, and sustainability; diversity, equity, and inclusion; democracy and citizen engagement; and stimulating innovation and creativity. These priorities will be addressed at the human scale, neighbourhood and community scale, and city scale.
Montreal continues to address its complicated colonial history and works to reconcile with Indigenous Peoples. In 2020, it adopted its 2020-2025 Strategy for Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, committing to decolonize city services, promote inclusive representation of Montreal and Aboriginal diversity, and support local Indigenous artists through a mural arts program and creative residencies. In the same year, Montreal established a city office dedicated to addressing racism and discrimination.
Montreal has faced multiple challenges in recent years, including rising property values, gentrification, and inflation, which make it increasingly difficult for cultural organisations and artists to find spaces for living, creating, and performing. The COVID-19 pandemic has also deeply impacted Montreal’s cultural sector workforce, leading to a shortage of specialised workers. To address these challenges, the City of Montreal and the Quebec government have rolled out various measures, including $30 million in assistance for artist studios and separate support for performance venues
Montréal has recently completed delivery of its 2017 – 2022 Cultural Development Policy, with planning underway to determine the direction of Montréal’s cultural policy for the coming years.
© Images Courtesy of Getty/Canva; City of Montreal