Studio 303 began operations in 1989 when three independent choreographers created a communal space where dancers could train, rehearse and perform from under one roof. Today, Studio 303 has blossomed into Québec’s most versatile, accessible and diversified centre for research in dance and interdisciplinary practices, and is the professional entry point to the Montreal performing arts milieu for emerging and visiting artists.
Since its beginings up to June 2010, Studio 303 has :
- presented the works of over 1450 artists from across Québec, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Latin America, Europe and Asia ;
- presented workshops/classes/Masterclasses with over 350 dance professionals from across Canada, the United States, Mexico, Latin America, Europe and Japan.
- presented 210 dance shows and 140 related art shows;
Today, Studio 303 has blossomed into Québec’s most versatile, accessible and diversified centre for research in dance and interdisciplinary practices, occupies the role as professional entry point to the Montreal dance milieu for emerging choreographers & visiting artists, is a trial laboratory for experienced artists and a central meeting place where artists working in different milieux may exchange ideas.
303 Milestones Chronological
Year #1 (1989 – 1990): The Earliest!
- Studio 303 is born! Incorporated on July 4, 1989, Martha Carter, Isabelle Van Grimde, and Jo Leslie take over Jo Lechay’s fabulous space in suite #303 of the Belgo Building. With a mandate to offer a wide variety of services to the Montreal performing arts community, it immediately starts cooking with morning classes and space rentals.
- October 1989 : Vernissage-danse #1 promises the beginning of great things to come. The inaugural “verni” featured new works by Nuria Casanova, Isabelle Van Grimde, Jo Leslie, and Martha Carter and began an informal performance series that opened doors for numerous local and guest choreographers. By the end of year 1, over thirty artists had presented works in these monthly events.
- Miriam Ginestier begins working at 303 as Administrative Assistant (Programme Extra) and Paul Caskey begins volunteering as Grunt Boy.
Year #2 (1990 – 1991)
- Doors open… Classes continue to multiply as do the artists using the space. With its open door policy, 303 becomes the go-to place for those new to the city and visiting foreign artists. The 2nd season features performances and workshops by over 50 artists from Belgium (Avi Kaiser), France (Jean-Marc Matos), Boston (Chris Aiken), Ottawa (Yvonne Coutts), Italy (Ariella Vidach) and Montreal (far too many to mention).
- The interdisciplinary interests of the organisation are highlighted in the diversity found in the early vernissage-danse: musique actuel, clown theatre, and cross-disciplinary explorations were regularly featured beside dance performances.
- The Founders: by the end of the second season, Martha Carter was the lone founder still active at 303. Her foresight and tireless passion would continue to drive the organisation for 2 more years.
Year #3 (1991 – 1992)
- Business as usual: workshops, performances, space rentals continue to occupy Studio 303 in its 3rd year of activity. Most staff are working on Extra or PAIE programs.
- The Mac Plus with its 30 megabyte hard drive and 4 meg’s of RAM is joined by a second machine, a Mac LCII with an incredible 100 megabyte hard drive. Needless to say, “cut and paste” is still done with scissors.
- A new floor is installed in 303… beautiful maple replaces the tattered plywood and Montreal gets one of its finest dance floors!
Year #4 (1992 – 1993): The Party Years!
- Responding to fiscal deficiencies and our love of a good time, Sara Porter, Lee Anholt and Paul Caskey begin organising a fun(d)raising Cabaret series. The first one, Cold Filtered Cabaret, takes place in Studio 303 in January and is promptly busted by the Fire Marshall when capacity is exceeded. The next 2 happen at the Lion d’Or in March (Spring Loaded Cabaret) and June (Cabaret On Tap). While not many funds were raised, fun was definitely had.
Year #5 (1993 – 1994)
- Martha Carter begins moonlighting with Marie Chouinard and starts touring with the company, a fact that leads to her prolonged absences from Montreal.
- When the cat’s away the mice will play… Left alone to their own devices, Paul and Miriam begin expanding 303’s performance series: Bruits du noir is born in January, followed by Edgy Women in March.
- Studio 303 inaugurates the Eglise Robert Bellarmin, new home of the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perrault, as a performance space, presenting the Hard Boiled Cabaret in January and Cabaret à sucre in April.
- The Conseil des arts de la communauté urbaine de Montréal saves 303’s ass when it becomes the first Arts Fundor to support its presenting activities.
- In honour of the Belgo Building’s long-standing history for clandestine activities, the pool table from the Hiawatha Festival of the Arts is transplanted into Studio 303’s office.
Year #6 (1994 – 1995)
- In the dead of winter (January 1995) Miriam Ginestier and Paul Caskey stage a coup d’etat and take over the artistic direction of Studio 303. Martha Carter welcomes the change and becomes Queen of the Board of Administrators.
- The Canada Council for the Arts awards Studio 303 $4000 towards its operating expenses, becoming the 2nd Arts Fundor to support its presenting activities.
Year #7 (1995 – 1996): Cruisin’ Along
- Out goes the pool table, up comes a wall, and Galerie 303 is born. Gray Fraser becomes the first curator, prioritising ‘outsider’ art and presenting an Artist Book show each year. In its first year of operations the gallery is voted “Best Gallery” by readers of the Montreal Mirror.
- The Fondation Jean-Pierre Perrault donates 16 lighting dimmers to 303. Tangente follows suit by permanently loaning some old lights and Studio 303’s technical revolution hits warp speed. Prior to this, 47 Vernissage-danse were produced using 6 wall-mounted rheostats and a dozen 150 watt flood lamps.
Year #8 (1996 – 97)
- les p’tites vites goes live with guest curator Natalie Morin picking 15 artists who deliver the goods in 3 minutes max. Artists are paid with a T-shirt.
- With “Le Home Show”, a classic is born: the Kitchen and the Bedroom are featured environments within which performers get up close and personal.
- The Power PC age is heralded by the arrival of a Mac Performa. After 8 years of service, the Mac Plus retires.
Year #9 (1997 – 98)
- Le Home Show II features the Bathroom and the Livingroom and reflects a coming shift in 303’s priority towards interdisciplinary arts.
- Studio 303’s 1st collaboration with Tangente (Moment’homme, April ‘98) proves to be a huge success when all shows are SOLD OUT before opening.
Year #10 (1998 – 99)
- The landmark 10th season features the launch of our first publication, a collection of essays on the season’ events featuring local writers/performers.
- www.studio303.ca is launched during the 10th anniversary party/cabaret.
- Studio 303 introduces the Montreal public to neo-butoh Goddess Yumiko Yoshioka. Yumiko teaches a one-week workshop that leaves students gasping and then wows the public in Vernissage-danse #73.
- “Home Movies” reveals 303’s credentials as a player in the realm of video art. 0ver a dozen dance films by artists from across Canada are projected in makeshift cinemas built in Suzanne Miller’s space and Studio 303.
- Studio 303 creates an artist exchange program with Karen Bernard’s New Dance Alliance in New York. Each year since then, Studio 303 programmes 3 artists from New York into its season, and vice versa.
Year #11 (1999 – 2000): The Interdisciplinary Revolution
- Studio 303 co-presents Yumiko Yoshioka’s renowned solo “All Moonshine” at the Usine C. All shows are sold-out and the piece is mentioned among the Top 10 dance events of the year.
- In October, 303 presents Josée Tremblay’s Festival Art Action Actuel (FA3) at Tangente and then hosts Dérapage Contrôlé. In addition, 303’s office becomes headquarters for the coordination of Inter2000
– the first pan-Canadian conference on Interdisciplinary Practices in Art. These events provide defining landmarks for 303’s transition into becoming an interdisciplinary presenter.
- 303’s annual budget breaks the $100,000 mark & 303 acquires its first I-mac, becoming a 3-computer office.
- Studio 303 inaugurates its annual summer residency for emerging artists with Tammy Forsythe.
Year #12 (2000 – 2001)
- In August, Studio 303 curates its first-large-scale event, FLEXX
– a free outdoor contemporary dance show in Berri Square as part of DiversCité’s festivities. The event attracts an audience of 2000, and features local and visiting choreographers, and simultaneous video projection.
- After a 1 year hiatus, Home Movies evolves into the projet/projo. For the 1st time in its history, 303 has project resources to cover travel expenses for artists. 30 artists from across Canada participate and over 750 people show up during two nights of memorable action at the Mai.
- A proposed 40% rent increase forces the beginning of a search for a new space and a brainstorming of 303’s future.
Year #13 (2001 – 2002)
- The Canada Council’s InterArts Office awards 303 project $$ and the Interdisciplinary series is officially born.
- Projet/projo 02 draws over a thousand people, leading to the doubling of 303’s annual attendance figures from 2 years previous.
- 303’s second publication, “Taking the Leap” hits the market. Written by Lys Stevens, this guidebook offers production advice to emerging choreographers.
- 303’ annual budget breaks the $200 000 mark, and with nearly $50 000 from the Fonds de Stabilisation, is able to hire a full-time administrator & 2-part time technicians.
- FA3 founder Josée Tremblay curates Gallery 303 for the next 2 years.
- With a grant from the CALQ & a donation from the Agora de la Danse, Studio 303 equips itself nicely as an intimate multimedia theatre space.
- Always looking for new sources of income, 303 launches the VIP card – a humourous 1-of-a-kind membership giving discounts to clients.
Year #14 (2002 – 2003)
- The 100th Vernissage-danse features a return of les p’tites vites. Over 20 local choreographers salute the verni’s longevity with 3-minutes pieces over 2 nights of festivity.
- Projet/projo becomes a ten-day event and international artists are invited to participate.
- A Flying Squad II grant enables the hiring of a General Manager at a critical junction in the organisation’s history. Lyne Maurier is hired for a two year contract and begins a strategic organisation of 303’s resources and potential
Year #15 (2003 – 2004): Jet Set
- The 15th season gets launched with a boom: 4 different shows during a 2 week period culminate with a 3 night run of Vancouver-based Battery Opera’s work Spektator. Co-presented by the F!ND, the shows are sold-out and go on Paula Citron’s (Globe and Mail) Top 10 list of dance in Canada.
- 303 partners with Théâtre de L’L and sends 7 Canadian choreographers to Brussels to participate in a creation-residency & festival, Danse en vol. Five months later 303 presents the festival in Montreal: 6 Belgian and 6 Canadian works are presented during a 2 week run at the Mai. And 3 of the artists do a 3-city Canadian tour with support from the Candance network.
- Group of n, a dynamic collective, takes over the curation of Gallery 303, organising eclectic thematic shared exhibitions.
- 303 abandons the search for a new space and renovates its digs, taking over a 2nd office space & building a new change room & entranceway to the Studio.
Year #16 (2004-2005) – 15th Anniversary
2004-2005 was challenging, and we survived!
- For our 15th anniversary, we acquired a new logo and a custom-made sign made from bowling alley planks rescued from the Belgo’s basement! We also organised our first Open Doors event, and presented a retrospective exhibit created by the Group of n, in our gallery.
– Despite a lack of funding, the programming is very eclectic featuring uncommon projects in a variety of venues such as the Sala Rossa, a private shed and the Darling Foundry. These included first major works by Ame Henderson and Frédéric Gravel – two artists who made a splash at the FTA five years later. Moreover, Studio 303 tours for the first time, taking the Edgy Road Show to Toronto’s Hysteria Festival, to great acclaim.
– Our administrative future feels shaky following the departure of Co-Director Paul Caskey (off to Halifax), and Administrator Lys Stevens (on maternity leave), and the announced of the Flying Squad II programme, which financed our General Manager’s salary. Yikes! Adding to this scary human ressource crisis is a cumulated deficit of $20,000 hanging above our heads.
- In the context of the serious difficulties that plagued the FIND and the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault, Studio 303’s Board of Directors decides to attack the deficit with a very tight managing system, the non-replacement of vacant posts, and the cancellation of 2 events.
The year ends well financially and Miriam Ginestier becomes the Studio 303’s only Artistic Director.
Year #17 (2005-2006) – Developing our Services
This year we undergo the consequences of last year’s changes…
- Gallery 303 closes its doors to make place to a new reception area and a resource centre.
- In September the RAIQ – a new association of Interdisciplinary arts in Quebec, joined us in sharing some of our office space. Studio 303 was involved in the creation of the organization and Miriam Ginestier sits on their Board of Directors.
- Two new sources of funding go a long long way! We receive for the first time an important grant from Emploi-Québec to support our professional workshops. This allows us to invite teachers of international calibre, and to take risks in the types of workshops offered.
- In addition, Edgy Women receives festival funding (CAC) and grows from a 4-night affair to a 3-week festival occupying four venues to present performances, installations, master classes and artist-encounters. Edgy Women becomes Studio 303’s most important project to date and quadruples its audience!
- Initiated by the artists in summer residency (Situation 5, headed by kg Guttman), Studio 303 presents its first series of intimate discussions with Martin Bélanger, Marie Brassard, Guy Cools and Sylvie Lachance. This encourages us to do more network-sharing activities.
Year #18 (2006-2007) – a BIG year!
Studio 303 takes charge: financial challenges and visibility
- Finances and management
- Studio 303 loses two significant sources of funding (Fonds de stabilisation and Flying Squad 2) related to 2 permanent salaries.
- Following an historic meeting with all four government levels, the CAM and the CALQ offer a non-recurring grant to help us out.
- During all this turmoil, Studio 303 is showered with incredible support from the community, and the Cirque du Soleil becomes a new partner for the 3 years to come.
- Despite all the positive energy, Studio 303 closes for 2.5 summer months, laying off staff temporarily, to avoid a crippling deficit.
- Studio 303 hosts two IETM sessions, and Danse Transit, a springboard for more than a hundred young fresh artists.
- Miriam Ginestier is increasingly active on several Boards (RAIQ, Culture Montréal), committees (the Grands Chantiers) and panels (Perfomance Creation Canada in Calgary and Ottawa, Mesto Zensk in Ljubljana, FreeFall in Toronto), and is consulted for Vue sur la relève, Kelemenis (France), and Clash (Lynda Gaudreau), amongst others.
- Our website gets 6000 visits per month!
- Edgy Women makes the front page of the Hour.
- Studio 303 exports a showcase of artists from Edgy Women to Berlin (Ausland) and Ljubljana (Mesto Zensk)
- Lys Stevens inaugurates themes for the Vernissage-danse Series
Year #19 (2007-2008) – the International Year
- A season full of firsts – Studio 303 launches its first major fundraising campaign and becomes the first dance presenter in Canada to have a Facebook page.
- An extraordinary year in terms of interdisciplinary programming – from 2boys.tv’s Phobophilia for 20 spectators at a time, to the Nuit blanche, with its bustling, free-flowing 1,500 spectators!
- With the last year of presenting support from the Inter-arts office, we invite two highly original artists, Belgium’s Marijs Boulogne, and Bulgarian Ivo Dimchev, to perform at Studio 303 which turns out to be the place where, in all his years of touring, Ivo gets the best price ($50) for a vial of his blood during his performance/auction!
- Another record is broken on International Women’s Day March 8th, when Montreal has a massive snowfall – the same day that we programmed a workshop, a career day, 2 performance events and a party! One brave spectator skied to the studio!
YEAR #20 (2008-2009) – Developing our support services, location, location, location
A year of hope and new beginnings – we start off by tearing down a wall and re-arranging the office furniture to accommodate our new projects.
In terms of events…
Studio 303 doubles its Vernissage-danse presentations and relocates its mainstage Edgy Women programming to Tangente, an invaluable partner.
FACTORY PROJECT (co-produced by OUT Productions) enjoys a 5-night run and becomes one of 303’s most successful and exciting events, attracting enormous media attention, and involving over 20 artists from across Canada. This event also marks the start of a new relationship between 303 and the Eastern Bloc – a new interdisciplinary venue.
In terms of services…
303 rethinks the prizes it offers via Vue sur la Relève, the Fringe and Concordia University, creating a flexible package of studio time, presentation support and mentorship. Recipient Virginie Brunelle’s work is picked up by an Italian presenter who sees her off-CINARS presentation at 303.
303 embarks upon a year of research supported by the CRÉ-CALQ to develop a new arm of support services for emerging independent artists. Project developer Kris Nelson, visits several support organisations and hosts a series of artists’ brunches to discuss challenges and brainstorm solutions.
303 decides to honour its night classes, a portal for some peoples’ first experiences of contemporary dance – and presents its first end-of-year student show in June.