Studio 303 began operations in 1989 when three choreographers created a communal space where dancers could train, rehearse and perform. By day a dance studio, the space was transformed once a month to informally present new works within the Vernissage-danse series.
In 1994, Miriam Ginestier and Paul Caskey took over as Co-Artistic Directors, and under their direction new recurring events expanded the organisation’s interdisciplinary profile such as popular fundraising cabarets, Bruits du Noir, Edgy Women, the Home Show, and projet/projo. From 1996 to 2005, Studio 303 also housed Gallery 303 (often voted Montreal’s best gallery by Montreal Mirror readers), and for three years co-presented FA3 – an international performance art festival. Studio 303 created a residency program for emerging artists (1999), expanded the Edgy Women event into a festival (2005), and instigated several artist exchange initiatives.
From 2005 to 2018, Miriam Ginestier has been the sole artistic director. In 2009, Studio 303 celebrated its 20th anniversary with VINGT, a choreographic “exquisite corpse” presented at Place des Arts. Studio 303 created SPARK in 2010: an intimate arts showcase and exchange between Montréal artists and international presenters. The Edgy Women Festival celebrated its 20th and final edition in 2013 in situ at a local boxing club, inspiring artists and audiences with its sports/art/gender theme.
In 2013, Studio 303 lost its Canadian Heritage funding after 12 years of consistent support. To accommodate this loss, the organization has downsized its presenting activities and refocused its energy on its roots as an artist-run professional development and creation centre.
In May 2018, a new co-directorship between Miriam Ginestier and Kim-Sanh Châu is announced, aiming to multiply and challenge perspectives while incarnating one of Studio 303’s fundamental values: collaborative decision-making.
YEAR BY YEAR MILESTONES
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): Bruits and Edgy
– 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 (Women from the Edge) in May.
– 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.
– CACUM, the former incarnation of the Conseil des Arts de Montreal, becomes the first arts fundor to support Studio 303’s 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): Co-direction
– In January 1995, Martha Carter passes the reigns to Miriam Ginestier and Paul Caskey, who take over the artistic direction of Studio 303. Martha remains active on Studio 303’s Board of Directors.
– 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 (1996-1997)
– A precursor to Short&Sweet, 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 custom T-shirt.
– Studio 303’s 1st collaboration with Tangente (Moment’homme, April ‘97) proves to be a huge success when all shows are SOLD OUT before opening.
– 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 (1997-1998)
– Edgy Women’s 5th anniversary edition is a 2-night affair of visual art, performance art, dance, clown and experimental music. The line-up included Céline Bonnier, Danielle Lecourtois/Hélène Langevin, Jenn Goodwin, Karen Bernard, Sebastian Yeung, Sylvette Babin and Victoria Stanton.
– Le Home Show II features the Bathroom and the Livingroom and reflects a coming shift in 303’s priority towards interdisciplinary arts. Dave St-Pierre, Alexis O’Hara, Leah Vineberg, Lina Cruz and Louise Dubreuil were among the 16 artists presented.
Year #10 (1998-1999): Website and publication
– www.studio303.ca is launched during the 10th anniversary party/cabaret. Farewell to firstname.lastname@example.org – our first email address, shared by the whole team!
– Studio 303 creates an artist exchange program with Karen Bernard’s New Dance Alliance in New York. Over the next decade, Studio 303 programmes 3 artists from New York into its season, and vice versa.
– The landmark 10th season features the launch of our first publication, a collection of essays on the season’ events featuring local writers/performers.
– 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.
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.
– Projet/projo is a project that evolved from Home Movies, which itself evolved from le Home Show. 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 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.
– 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’ 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 two 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)
– Studio 303 is invited to curate 4 evenings of dance for Espaces Émergents, a one-time festival presented at the American Can & Zest in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Featured artists include Natalie Morin, Karine Denault & Motaz Kabbani.
– Lys Stevens authors “Taking the Leap”, published by Studio 303 and launched in 2002. This guidebook offers production advice to emerging choreographers.
– The 10th anniversary edition of Edgy Women gets coverage in Elle Magazine!
– 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 end 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.
– With support from the Canada Council’s Inter-arts office, Edgy Women blossoms into a 3-week / 4-venue festival of performances, installations, workshops and artist-encounters. Edgy Women becomes Studio 303’s most popular 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
– 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.
Year #21 (2009-2010): VINGT
– After 145 editions, we say goodbye to Vernissages-danse which are replaced with theme nights programmed by guest curators such as Lys Stevens, Wants&Needs Danse and Kris Nelson.
– A new partnership was developed with les Escales Improbables de Montréal around the project Boutique Arcade by 2boys.tv.
– Our service of Support Labs is launched, based on the brainstorming brunches with artists in 08-09. The first Salon Labs are hosted by Dana Michel, Normand Marcy and 2boys.tv within Recommendation 63 at Tangente.
– We revamp our website and update Lys Stevens’ self-production guide Taking the Leap, finally making it available online. 600 people consult the document within the first 6 months.
– 303 celebrates its 20th anniversary at the 5ème Salle with VINGT: a choreographic exquisite corpse created by over 20 artists, with an original score by Alexis O’Hara.
Year #22 (2010-2011): SPARK is born
– The first edition of SPARK – an artistic safari for 10 international presenters – is organized in collaboration with our associate artists and many partner venues. These meetings resulted in a dozen international invitations for participating artists, and led to an exchange between Studio 303 and Mains d’Oeuvres in Paris.
– After 11 years, the exchange with Performance Mix in New York sees its end. As a gift for the festival’s 25th anniversary, 303 offers the exquisite corpse choreography concept and Alexis O’Hara extends the original composition that was designed for the 303.
– Corps Atypik is produced in partnership with other presenters. Our contributions Mobilise and Twisted, highlighted disabled dance. Coincidentally, the day of the premiere, the two elevators in teh Belgo are down – that never happened before! Fortunately, one of the two was repaired in time to welcome our several wheelchair using audience members!
– Edgy has its last year at Tangente, who has lost its space, and hosts outstanding international artists including Annie Sprinkle, anti-cool, Narcissister and Karen Sherman who created a choreography on ice, documented in the short film Slippery.
– After eight years, Mélissa Guay, our star of communications and production, takes maternity leave and chooses not to return after a change in her profession. 🙁
Year #23 (2011-2012): An abundant season!
– Ascen/danses – Three weeks highlighting contemporary African dance, in collaboration with several partner organizations. Studio 303 hosted a film screening, performances and a workshop, curated by Lys Stevens.
– Our first SPARK Studio Series, for professionals during the FTA and OFFTA, presented works-in-progress and talks by 8 artists, attracting over 45 international presenters from 12 different countries! Salon labs – a series of monthly discussions with season artists helped shape 303’s Dramaturgy workshop and Re-tours project.
– The Lactation Station – after years of planning, we got this unique event off the ground, co-presented by the OFFTA. A diverse crowd of 200 people came to taste and/or discuss breast milk at Usine C – our partner venue.
– A year brimming with site-specific collaborations including Piss in the Pool, Diary of a Neighbourhood (on apartment windows), les Escales Improbables at the Fonderie Darling, J.E.U.X. (an interactive happening) at Eastern Bloc, a peculiar take on hockey at a public arena, and Janvier in an old railway building.
– Re-Tours – a collection of frank anecdotes from artists willing to share insightful touring experiences – is now available online.
– Throughout the year, Studio 303 received invaluable help from no less than 15 talented and enthusiastic French volunteers and interns, and began a new partnership with a Masters programme in Grenoble.
– After six years, our Artists Services rock star Roxanne Angers leaves 303 to pursue a career as a gaming industry web designer. 🙁
Year #24 (2012-2013): intense and international
– This was a challenging year with our core staff members moving on to other projects, and the sudden death and theft of four not-fully backed up computers! Thankfully, we were awarded an increase to our multi-year operating funding from CALQ and CAM.
– International activities : Five artistes participated in our Résidences Croisées between Studio 303 and Mains d’OEuvres in Paris; Miriam Ginestier was invited to Dance Massive in Australia and to the Minnesota Dance Platform which birthed new collaborations in the coming years; and finally we had the honour of working with the sublime Jesusa Rodriguez, all the way from Mexico!
– In March 2013, the Edgy Women Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary in style with events intertwining the worlds of art and athletics: a lucha libre wrestling match; feminist hockey match, and a collaborative performance event taking place at a boxing club.
– 303 co-produces Peter Troszmer’s 5 out of 6 Machines, a radical immersive performance in a found space in Griffintown, which will become a creative hub. Dana Michel presents the 303-supported Yellow Towel at FTA – a huge success and an important career milestone.
– Audrée Juteau’s residency is the first – but not the last – time 303 supports a creation between a human and an animal. The following summer, the tradition continues when Antonija Livingstone collaborates with chihuahuas and snakes as part of her creative team.
– We create a new Artists Corner on our website to facilitate access to all our services, and we publish our first ever Annual Report!
Year #25 (2013-2014): Lets get political!
– For the first time in 12 years, our annual application to Canadian Heritage’s Canadian Arts Presentation (CAP) Fund was “not approved”. Our annual budget plummets to $340 000 (from $418 000 in 2008-09). Scrambling to survive and planning around change, we decide to pare down activities for a 3 year cycle, before re-evaluating our situation in 15-16. The impacts are huge: we slash communications and presenting, consolidate staff positions and lose three employees including our beloved veteran Lys Stevens. Our new brave colleague Kim-Sanh Chau takes on administration, bookkeeping and communications! Ironically, we manage to improve our services to artists and invest more energy in experimentation and activism!
– A new presenting structure for the next 3 years is established: informal showings by artists in residence, two commissioning events (Métamorphose and REMIX), Edgy Redux (condensed and feminist) and the political hell-raising Cabaret Tollé. For this latter event, we organize our first encan andraise over $2,000. On top of that, we raise, for the first time ever, over $10,000 via our annual fundraiser campaign!
– In terms of professional development, we launch the 2nd edition of SPARK and create À Table: two networking activities that seek to subvert the power dynamics that often exist between artists and presenters. New advanced workshops incubated at 303 include Dramaturgy with Kathy Casey, and an Axis Syllabus teacher training and lab with Kelly Keenan. Concerning residencies, we host our 1st ever “social residency” for Pramila Vasudevan, and Antonija Livingstone’s Culture, Administration & Trembling is picked up by the FTA following an informal presentation at Studio 303.
– Studio 303 participates in three landmark conferences: the RAIQ’s CHAOS (reflecting on interdisciplinary practices); ACAQ’s Envisioning the Practice (on performing arts curation); the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics’ Encuentro; and hosts 2Fik’s artist panel The Quartering of the Artist.
Year #26 (2014-2015): The sabbatical
– After years of planning and savings, Miriam Ginestier takes a 9-month sabbatical. With support from the board and “fairy godmother” Lin Snelling, the team take on new responsibilities: Andrea Joy Rideout programmes Cabaret Tollé and Edgy Redux, while Kim-Sanh Châu takes on the general direction and programming Métamorphose and REMIX. Our board of Directors, presided by Ilona Dougherty, is more artist-centered and involved than ever – this is the first year that the board joins the team for its annual retreat!
– 303 hosts the first edition of À TABLE to feature local presenters, and deals with its first police call when someone forgets to close the curtains during Doris Uhlich‘s “More than Naked” workshop!
– 303 celebrates its 25th anniversary at a joint Christmas party with Circuit Est (in collaboration with RQD for their 30th anniversary) at the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perrault. At the end of the year, an online retrospective of photos, anecdotes and archives is published on Facebook.
Year #27 (2015-2016): Back in the saddle
– Edgy is Dead! Long Live Edgy! Following Andrea Rideout’s brilliantly conceived death-themed final edition of our beloved Edgy in March, nine 303-associated artists performed at Abrons Art Center in New York City in three “Edgy Women” events curated by Miriam Ginestier for Performance Mix Festival’s 30th anniversary In June.
– To mark the end of an oppressive era, Alexis O’Hara’s iconic Harper head is transformed into a pinata at Cabaret Tollé.
– In addition, we shared best practices and trade secrets with our peers during a series of Admin Labs, launched a new residency exchange within driving distance (with Vermont Performance Lab), and hosted several editions of Katie Ward and Dorian Nuskind Oder’s Itinérant – an artist-led monthly work-in-progress showing and feedback session for choreographers.
Year #28 (2016-2017): new programmes!
– Survey results (243 participants), discussions among staff, board members, and stakeholders at a Town Hall, helped us imagine a dynamic season building on our recent suite of events and enhanced services to artists, while reinforcing how deeply our values and role in the community are cherished.
– We launched our artist exchange with Vermont Performance Lab and two new bold programmes: a five-day Queer Performance Camp and a new curatorial residency. Our first resident curators are WIVES collective who program two editions of ASSEMBLÉE.
– 2016-17 is our leanest budget year in a decade. In order to protect artist fees, working conditions, and program development, our Board of Directors approves a $35,000 deficit (absorbed by our cumulated profit). Studio goes into high gear preparing grant applications and foundation requests to ensure a brighter future, and to be able to reinforce our presenting series.
Year #29 (2017-2018): a return to codirection
– Following much reflection, Studio 303 puts artists’ services at the centre of its mandate, and reorients itself as a Service organisation. Events are now related to professional development making room for special projects – allowing us to remain experimental, reactive and attentive to our community’s needs.
– New partnerships: 303 joins VIVA! Art Action, a lively performance art biennial; collaborates with MAI and La Chapelle to produce the 2nd edition of Queer Performance Camp; curates a program of Montreal artists for the Fierce Festival in the UK with the support of ELAN (English Language Arts Network); and REMIX goes national with an inter-provincial CanDance-supported exchange with Mile Zero Dance (AB) and Neighbourhood Dance Works (NL).
– In May, a new co-directorship between Miriam Ginestier and Kim-Sanh Châu is announced. This new model will multiply and challenge perspectives while incarnating one of Studio 303’s fundamental values: collaborative decision-making.
– Equity Measures: Studio 303 launched the Artists’ Survival Fund, to provide emergency funds for current or recent artists in residence, who have a confirmed presentation which they cannot afford. The Artists’ Survival Fund is a small but significant gesture towards highlighting this recurring issue, and combatting artists’ poverty. Our residency fees are determined according to the needs of artists (on average $3,350 per group), an initiative based on trust and transparency with artists; and, a scholarship is set up, offering free access to our professional workshops (about ten per year) to artists who identify as Indigenous, Black, and/or as a person of colour.
– Ornella Calisti, Head of Artist Services, is away for one season for maternity leave – and is brilliantly replaced by Dorian Nuskind-Oder, an artist with whom the 303 has a long-standing relationship.
Year #31 (2019-20) : 303’s Saturn Return! Eclipsed?
– Studio 303 celebrates it’s 30th anniversary under the theme Saturn’s Return. To mark the occasion, Taking the Leap is updated, REMIX becomes “impossible” and Cabaret Tollé is hosted at 303 for the first time. A cozy cocooned version of Queer Performance Camp (in February) is marked by an exchange with artists from Calgary.
– Initiatives to improve accessibility are underway: the entrance to the studio is expanded, a babysitter and a live broadcast room in the office are offered for certain events.
– The COVID-19 pandemic and anti-racism protests slow down our activities and help us take a closer look at our relationship to systems. 303 reinvents several activities online including several workshops, the Queer Body Politic event and an interactive Town Hall. Behind the scenes, the team rethinks the mission and values of the organization to ensure transparency and accessibility, the Salon Labs resume.
Year #32 (2020-21): the year of covid and many political upheavals
– 2020-21 was marked by the pandemic and all of its consequences, as well as by racist acts and anti-racist uprisings (including Black Lives Matter, unearthing of mass graves at residential ‘schools’,
anti-Asian racism and the violence in Palestine). This has affected us both individually and collectively,
influencing our perspective and behaviour.
– We focused on building a sensitive, caring program of intimate professional workshops, flexible residencies, and events that embraced the instability of the moment. All of this was communicated gently and incrementally, in response to the general sense of overwhelm that our community was feeling.
– Behind the scenes, we laid the groundwork for a more inclusive and transparent season to come, and, despite ourselves, embraced a bit of a “digital shift”. We also started to investigate on a real estate acquisition project (with the support of the CAM).
Year #33 (2021-22): pursuits and renewed hope
– Still in a pandemic context, compounded by the outbreak of war in Ukraine, our organisation continued to propose activities with sensitivity to our current context.
– We created new initiatives focused on inclusion and collaboration (including the Accessibles+ workshops), as well as exciting support for the next generation of creators: Milieu en mutation, an extension of Taking the Leap, including podcast by 303 artists.
–– We launched Grant Spas, a coworking day with individualised feedback; all modeled on a day at the spa! The Queer Performance Camp saw a beautiful edition by Winnie Ho and Justin De Luna around healing, hope and love. Tollé event drew to a close with a together-day at the Mont-Royal, followed by a small party at 303. Despite the dark times, these activities warmed our hearts, and we felt the hope of being together coming back!
Year #34 (2022-23): Preparations for a new course!
– Despite a still shy attendance for workshops, we feel the energy coming back. A return to the pre-pandemic activities and vibe is definitely up in the air!
– To make the most of of international teachers visit, and to revive activities in presence, we launched the 5@7 sans souliers, which included short performances by keyon gaskin (USA), Florent Mahoukou (Congo/France) and Yumiko Yoshioka (Japan/Germany).
– Grant Spas gain momentum, and we receive our first financial support from the CAC to launch a full series in 23-24! Kim-Sanh Châu also receives her first CA grant to develop artist exchanges in Asia.
– In 22-23, we’re also preparing for some big changes. After 33 years at Studio 303, Miriam Ginestier, our beloved Co-Artistic and General Director, has decided to leave at the end of the season. The co-directors are very well supported by the Board of Directors and a professional coach to make this transition as smooth as possible. A very moving farewell party in Miriam’s honour is hosted, with many demonstrations of love and affection, including 3 micro-performances by friend/artists Alexis O’Hara, Winnie Ho & Justin De Luna and Jacob Wren. We’ll miss you Miriam!!!