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Intercultural Conversations awards $174,000 to encourage theatrical dialogue between various cultures in Montreal

February 9,  2021

The Cole Foundation’s Intercultural Conversations-Conversations Interculturelles (IC-CI) program has been an immense support for local theatre companies throughout the shifting protocols of the pandemic. For the recent fall competition, eight companies were given invaluable grants to nurture diverse and inclusive theatrical stories in Greater Montreal for a total of $174,000 for the 2022-23 season, as well as added funding for post-show audience talkbacks to continue the conversation initiated in the play. Montreal artists are ever hopeful, planning for the future and looking forward to live performance, in whatever capacity is allowed them.

Fondation Cole - Barry Cole -

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

Cole Foundation President and Chairman Barry Cole is proud to announce this latest round of winners. “Given the effects of the pandemic, we are extremely pleased with the number and quality of the applications. Montrealers will have some wonderful theatre in the coming seasons,” said Cole. Of note, each company meriting a grant in this latest competition is a repeat recipient. The Foundation is encouraged by the number of theatres that have embraced intercultural conversation as an integral part of their mission.

The dialogue continues – offering a creative focus on racial and ethnic diversity

Play submissions encompass a widespread range of themes and ideas, cultures and identities. Anticipated works, written in multiple theatrical styles by both emerging and awarded playwrights, present shows that range from a huge cast that fills the stage to an intimate solo piece. Audiences will experience works of humour, curiosity, heartbreak, pride and discovery.

Upcoming plays highlight contemporary stories that speak to Montreal audiences, including a world-premiere adaptation of a heart-warming children’s book that brings to light conversations surrounding identity and gender in youth; stark images from Nunavut that juxtapose the current cultural consequences of the colonization of the Arctic; and the discovery of Indigenous history in a small town back yard that brings communities together.

People will be moved by a tender Haitian story about being adopted into a white family and the importance of knowing your roots; first, second and third-generation immigrant women tackling both the respect for tradition and a need for modernity; and 40 Francophone performers from across Canada – Indigenous, non-Indigenous and Métis – touring the country, examining culture and identity issues that have shaped the nation.

To echo Barry Cole, Montrealers can look forward to a theatrical treat of outstanding, meaningful work.

And audiences will be transported by thematically connected micro plays about the complexities of language, power dynamics and socio-cultural ideas of gender and race; as well as exploring the relationships between the four colonial languages of the Americas and Indigenous languages, lost languages and lost nature.

To echo Barry Cole, Montrealers can look forward to a theatrical treat of outstanding, meaningful work.

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.

Phara Thibault

Phara Thibault – Image: courtesy of Théâtre de La Manufacture-La Licorne

Hudson Village Theatre, helmed by Artistic Director Dean Patrick Fleming, would like to thank the Cole Foundation for its ongoing support of Montreal theatre. “The Foundation’s work has been integral to the conversations theatres are having with growing communities; to be chosen as a recipient of a grant is an honour. Our new play will use humour to spark dialogue between Kanehsatake and Hudson, and explore what it means to live on unceded territory today,” said Fleming.

“The Cole Foundation’s Intercultural Conversations grant provides Festival TransAmériques with the means to sustain artists creating a new piece of work, working between their home base in Iqaluit and Tio’tia:ke/Montreal,” said Co-Artistic Director Martine Dennewald. “Both for artists and arts institutions, being able to commit to a long-term creation process is equivalent to ensuring the quality and longevity of our productions, and the Cole Foundation’s support is a crucial step towards making this happen.”

Jimmy Blais is the new artistic director of Geordie Theatre. “Our community has yet again found ourselves surrounded by question marks and unknowns. During this time, the Cole Foundation has been a beacon of hope, helping us push forward. The Foundation plays such a crucial role in our ability to continue to bring engaging and relevant theatre to our audiences,” acknowledged Blais.

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

Théâtre de La Manufacture-La Licorne would like to thank the Cole Foundation for its support of a young playwright’s first play. This grant sends a strong signal regarding the need to see this work brought to life,” said Philippe Lambert, Artistic Director.

Imago Theatre has garnered several IC-CI grants over the years, “The Cole Foundation champions works that dare to challenge our prejudices, question our beliefs and embolden us to open our minds and hearts to each other. We are once again grateful for this partnership, which allows theatre artists to fulfil their ambition of changing the world through storytelling,” affirmed Artistic Director, Micheline Chevrier.

Commissioning grants

Productions Onishka – Polyglotte – Émilie Monnet
Orange NoyéeTROIS –  Mani Soleymanlou (also production grant)

Production grants

Théâtre de La Manufacture/La Licorne – CHOKOLA – Phara Thibault
Festival TransAmériques – QUAMMA – Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory
Duceppe – Nana – Nathalie Doummar
Hudson Village Theatre – Feather Gardens – Jimmy Blais
Geordie Productions – From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea – Gabe Maharjan
Imago Theatre – Redbone Coonhound – Amy Lee Lavoie and Omari Newton

Grant applications

There are two annual Intercultural Conversations-Conversations Interculturelles grants, in October and April. The deadline for the next competition of the award is Friday, April 1, 2022, 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: From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, courtesy of Geordie TheatreBouton 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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