Montreal theatres
continue the dialogue

Intercultural Conversations celebrates its 15th year with $171,000 in theatre grants

August 17, 2023

Encouraging theatrical dialogue between the various cultures in Montreal

Now in its 15th year, with diversity at the core of the Cole Foundation’s Intercultural Conversations-Conversations Interculturelles (IC-CI) program, Foundation President and Chairman Barry Cole is proud to announce the latest round of grant winners.

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

Intercultural Conversations-Conversations Interculturelles was created to motivate the production of professional theatre that features intercultural dialogue and introduces Montrealers to other cultural heritages; the program has succeeded in every facet. For this recent spring competition, eleven companies were given vital grants to share diverse and inclusive theatrical stories in Greater Montreal for a total of $171,000 for the 2023-24 season, as well as added funding for post-show audience talkbacks to continue the conversation initiated in the play. Intercultural Conversations-Conversations Interculturelles include commissioning, producing, and translating plays.

“Companies are eager to offer specific stories that have not been told before in a theatrical version,” said Cole. “It is rewarding to regularly have theatres, both English and French, apply for first-time grants and have them be successful, as well as see artistic directors embrace intercultural dialogue as a central part of their mandate. There is also an ever-increasing number of Indigenous work being done, evidencing reconciliation is taken seriously.”

This cycle of winning plays offers a wide range of theatrical styles and themes including historical drama, comedy, theatrical cabaret, and rap music. They encompass numerous heritages and identities, embracing Indigenous, Jewish, Black, Iranian, Colombian, Tamil from Sri Lanka and Sinhalese cultures, among others.

Recipients of the latest competition

The Cole Foundation has encouraged intercultural conversation for three new productions for Teesri Duniya Theatre. “The new grants make possible three unique stories including a young Iranian-Canadian woman who wants nothing short of freedom; Indigenous siblings’ fight against environmental racism protecting their land, air, and water; and developing new BIPOC talent writing politically challenging plays that push boundaries. We thank the Cole Foundation for supporting plays that move Canada forward,” said Artistic Director Rahul Varma.

“We couldn’t do either of our projects without this important and necessary program and the Foundation’s ongoing support over the course of its fifteen years,” said Krista Jackson, Imago Theatre’s artistic & executive director. “This season we will bring a vital conversation about incarcerated, racialized women in Canada to Montreal audiences, and commission a new work that focuses on the Black Canadian experience, juxtaposing the story of the historic African Nova Scotian community of Africville with the current housing crisis in Montreal.”

The Cole Foundation is a long-time supporter of Théâtre aux Écuries and is a significant part of their upcoming groundbreaking show. “It is rare that eight Latino artists can work on the same project as there are few roles written for Latin American Canadians. This is the first production in French with a 100% Latino cast on a Montreal stage,” said Pauline Louër, Théâtre aux Écuries.

Commissioning grants

La Messe Basse – Sur les traces by Gurshad Shaheman and Dany Boudreault
Imago Theatre –
 One Spectacular Moment by Adjani Poirier
Geordie Productions –
 Fresh Kix by Amy Lee Lavoie and Omari Newton
Teesri Duniya Theatre –
 White Lion, Brown Bear by Vinesh Abyratnam

Production grants

Imago TheatreThe Flood by Leah Simone Bowen
MAYDAYCabaret Noir by various artists
Centaur Theatre CompanyalterNatives by Drew Hayden Taylor
Théâtre aux ÉcuriesProvidencia by Mariana Tayler
Productions MenuentakuanAutochtoneries by Maro Colin and Omer St-Onge
Teesri Duniya TheatreAzadi by Meharnaz Mohammadi and Chemical Valley by Julia Howman and Kevin Matthew Wong

There are two annual Intercultural Conversations-Conversations Interculturelles grants, in October and April. The deadline for the next competition for the award is Friday, September 29, 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: MAYDAY – Cabaret Noir, by Kevin CalixteBouton 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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