$190,200 to support diverse
theatrical stories in Quebec

Intercultural Conversations encourages theatrical dialogue between the various cultures in Montreal

March 28, 2023

Twice a year, the Cole Foundation’s Intercultural Conversations-Conversations Interculturelles (IC-CI) program disperses hundreds of thousands of dollars to support professional Montreal theatre companies who produce, commission and translate plays that show diversity on stage. This encourages a greater understanding of Montreal’s intercultural reality by having audiences both learn about and see their stories presented.

Cole Foundation President and Chairman, Barry Cole Image: Steve Gerrard

For the recent fall competition, 11 deserving companies were given invaluable grants for a total of $190,200 for the 2023-24 season, as well as added funding for post-show audience talkbacks to continue the conversation initiated in the play. “I am honoured to support the ever-expanding international scope of the cultures and countries represented in these local productions,” said Cole Foundation President and Chairman Barry Cole. “It is important for Montreal audiences to see the breadth of perspectives from around the world on our stages.”

Expansive reach of cultural stories on stage

Play submissions encompass a widespread range of ideas, cultures and identities. Anticipated new works presented by both emerging and awarded playwrights range from larger-than-usual casts to intimate solo pieces. Audiences will experience works of honesty, humour, history and heartbreak.

Theatrical styles and themes include a poetic ode to the search for home and identity; puppet drama for older children that explores Jewish-Ukrainian stereotypes; a discussion of privilege and perspective between a gay man and a Black woman; Indigenous children’s rights to health care; epistolary works from emotional texts poured into real correspondence; a light-hearted look at Muslim romance; Indigenous Argentines under a system of white supremacy; cultural issues vs. violence against women; rising antisemitism told through five generations of one Parisian family; the parallels of the playwright/performer and the African queen warrior/politician who shares her name; and the friendship between Indigenous artists in vastly different circumstances – one Canadian and one a Colombian living with daily threats.

The works highlight contemporary Quebec issues via the Caribbean, Belgium, Lebanon, Congo (DRC), Guyana, Colombia, South Asia, Morocco, Syria, France, Ukraine and Argentina.

Recipients of the latest competition

Intercultural Conversations-Conversations Interculturelles grants confirm local companies’ valued impact in producing diverse, cross-cultural shared experiences and telling important, current stories.

Scapegoat Carnivale has had the privilege of receiving several grants from the Cole Foundation. That support from Barry Cole, the foundation, and the jury has afforded us more rehearsal, better pay for our team, and the greatest asset, time, to explore our work in a more profound and meaningful way,” said Joseph Shragge, company co-artistic director. “We thank the Cole foundation for being a major force in changing the landscape of Montreal theatre for the better.”

For Martine Dennenwald, co-artistic director of Festival TransAmériques, “The Foundation’s Intercultural Conversations grant provides much-needed support for a crucial phase in a number of works for this year’s international festival. It is essential in making the conversation between Argentine and Andean communities and Montreal theatre-goers a reality.”

Joseph Shragge et les marionnettes de Vertip

Joseph Shragge with the Vertip marionnettes – Image: Helena Valles

Sylvain Bélanger is the artistic director of Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui. “Intercultural conversations are at the heart of our artistic and social projects. The Cole Foundation’s support feeds into our mission to enrich Quebec drama, something we are dedicated exclusively to,” he said.

“In this era of building walls instead of bridges, the Cole Foundation’s mission of intercultural dialogue is more urgent than ever. The Foundation has regularly given us the means to surpass ourselves artistically,” affirmed Artistic Director Philippe Ducros of Hôtel-Motel. “The team is, as always, made up of artists and collaborators from the regions in the play. The resulting artistic and human dialogue is invaluable, and we are so thankful,” Ducros added.

“The Segal Centre commends the Cole Foundation for recognizing the pressing need to include antisemitism in the conversations surrounding intercultural issues. We are also thrilled to include French supertitles for every performance that can help build a bridge to engage the wider Quebec population in this important discourse,” said Lisa Rubin, artistic director.

Dian Marie Bridge is the new artistic director of Black Theatre Workshop, “The Cole Foundation’s dedication to the promotion of intercultural exchange is deeply shared by us at BTW. We are grateful for the continued support the Foundation gives to the work, conversations and platforms that we provide to Montreal’s theatre community,” said Bridge.

Commissioning grants are:

Geordie ProductionsJordan the Great by Yvette Nolan
Teesri Duniya Theatre Talaq by Rahul Varma
Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’huiNzinga by Nzinga Botao, Diamond and Mumbu (also production grant)
Productions OnishkaNigamon/Tunai by Émilie Monnet and Waira Nina (also production grant)

Production grant awards go to:

Black Theatre WorkshopEvery Day She Rose by Nick Green and Andrea Scott
Festival TransAmériquesSoliloquio by Tizono Cruz (also translation grant)
InfinithéâtreDominoes at the Crossroads by Kaie Kellough
Les Productions Hôtel-MotelChambres d’échos by Philippe Ducros
Scapegoat CarnivaleVertip by Joseph Shragge
Segal Centre for the Performing ArtsPrayer for the French Republic by Joshua Harmonet
Silk Road InstituteThe Rishta by Uzma Jalaluddin

There are two annual Intercultural Conversations-Conversations Interculturelles grants in October and April. The deadline for the next competition of the award is Friday, March 31, 2023, at 5 pm. Theatre companies interested in applying for a grant can download the necessary application forms and information from the Cole Foundation’s website at

Feature image: Chambres d’échos – Maxime-CôtéBouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.caRead also: Past articles about Intercultural Conversations

The Cole Foundation is a private family foundation based in Montreal, initiated in 1980 by the late J. N. (Jack) Cole, a Montreal businessman and philanthropist. It supports research in pediatric leukemia and related diseases, as well as a programme of support for community initiatives, including Intercultural Conversations. The catalyst for Intercultural Conversations was the Bouchard-Taylor Commission which recognized the multi-cultures of Montreal and the need to increase the intercultural dialogue between these communities. Barry Cole has had a 30-year career in the management of the performing arts, with an emphasis on classical music. He has been the Chair and President of the Cole Foundation for the past 12 years.

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