The New Ambitions of La Fabrique culturelle

A video presenting Martha Wainwright singing in the early hours of the morning at Gaspé’s Festival Musique du Bout du Monde. A virtual reality experience showcasing Quebec talent and landscapes during the Francophonie Summit. A series of encounters between Sophie Cadieux and creators from different horizons—including Florent Vollant, Marie-Josée Lord and Louise Forestier—immortalized in podcasts. Since 2014, La Fabrique culturelle uses all possible means to have Quebeckers and, increasingly, the rest of the world discover artists from Quebec’s regions.

Education, culture and territory are the three pillars of Télé-Québec according to Sophie Dufort, head of digital medias and regions. It was obvious that La Fabrique culturelle would use its ten regional offices, already well established throughout the country, to promote Quebec culture. “Travelling to Natashquan or to Rouyn-Noranda to do a story on culture is the very essence of what Télé-Québec must do,” she claims. “Culture is everywhere, and it’s important to showcase it.”

Sophie Dufort, head of digital medias and regions

Her colleague Myriam Leblond, who coordinates the Estrie/Montérégie regional office, believes that the platform may encourage several people to remain in their current region instead of moving to a major urban centre. “Artists want to be seen and heard,” she says. “They need to be pointed in the right direction and given the space they need to get known and eventually make a living from their art. Outside of major cities, they often do not have access to people with the financial means to give them a boost, but I’m confident that things are changing. They need a driving force.”

The popularity of La Fabrique culturelle in social media is ever growing and the platform has become a formidable showcase for established artists and rising stars alike. “Many artists use our capsules to develop new ties in their artistic circles,” explains Ms. Leblond. “Others use them in their grant documents as a form a recognition.”

Myriam Leblond, Regional Coordination Officer for Estrie and Montérégie

The coordinator also observes a marked difference compared to when she began in 2014. At the time, she had to dig much deeper to obtain content.

“Today, the artists come to us. They know that we create artistic videos in line with their image. We take the time to plunge into their creative process and conduct in-depth interviews. We sometimes have enough material to be able to produce 50-minute documentaries!”

A few numbers from La Fabrique

  • More than 8,350 video capsules to date;
  • 4 podcast series: La vie secrète des libraires, Atalukan, Quartier général magazine culturel and En filigrane;
  • 4 virtual reality experiences presented at the Geneva Book Fair, the Paris Book Fair, the Paris Poetry Market and the most recent Francophonie Summit.

Widespread distribution in all directions

Seeing as the platform is not commercial in nature, its artisans do not really pay much attention to the number of views on their website.

“Instead of forcing people to use our platform to listen [to the podcasts], we opened up our distribution strategies about 18 months ago. We want our content to be everywhere. We are at the service of culture, we are not a distributor that is closed in on itself. We exist so that culture can travel! And it works: our statistics have increased fivefold!”

This new vision comes with the will to eliminate regional compartmentalization. “In the past, the different regions were very clearly identified on our site,” she adds. “But people want to have access to all aspects of culture, not just what’s happening in their region.”

Photo credit: La Fabrique culturelle

With more than 8,350 capsules produced to date, La Fabrique culturelle has become the cultural equivalent of an archival database. “It’s our collective memory. It demonstrates the full relevance of Quebec’s cultural identity,” says Ms. Leblond.

Some numbers on the online views

  • 2015-2016: 1 820 000 viewings
  • 2016-2017: 2 516 000 viewings
  • 2017-2018: awaiting the final result, but the statistics will be similar to last year’s

Web and TV are two different realities

The development of this artistic collection nevertheless required a tremendous amount of work as well as a change in mentality seeing the realities of television production differ from those of producing for digital. “The production budgets are not the same, nor is the technology used to produce digital,” points out Ms. Leblond. “Given we operate with teams of one or two people who have to take care of everything, our focus needs to be on projects that will be relatively simple to produce.”

Photo credit: La Fabrique culturelle

Simplicity, mobility and resourcefulness become everyday fare for the teams at La Fabrique culturelle, who cover an immense territory. “The major challenge is to manage to speak to everyone who has talent,” explains Ms. Leblond. “We sometimes need to limit our ambitions when it comes to our choices of artists and partnerships because of the sheer size of the territory we cover.”

That being said, the regional teams are busy! Each and every month, they produce some thirty or so capsules that each last 3 to 8 minutes. “In the past, Télé-Québec’s regional teams had access to big budgets and produced one feature presentation per year. Today and going forward, the teams are present in the field each and every week,” explains Sophie Dufort. “They are very involved in their communities. Every ten days, each region releases a new capsule.”

150 partnerships

Up to now, over 150 partnerships have been entered into with festivals, cultural centres, regional broadcasters and different ministries, including the Ministry of International Relations, which presented a virtual reality experience during the Francophonie Summit held in Armenia last October. Visitors had the possibility of teleporting themselves to Quebec City, Sainte-Rose-du-Nord in the Saguenay region, Montreal and the Magdalen Islands, while Karim Ouellet, Safia Nolin, La Bronze and Loco Locass sang Jean Leloup’s Le Dôme.

Photo credit: La Fabrique culturelle

Thanks to its many collaborative agreements, La Fabrique culturelle supports new events in the regions among others. “We have a preference for initiatives that seek to bolster a region’s vitality. What we propose is not a marketing partnership but rather support to create content.”

And content is no longer limited to video capsules. After having reoriented its dissemination strategy, La Fabrique culturelle opened the door to podcasts, texts and virtual experiences. “I raise my hat to those who started up La Fabrique, because they successfully opened up the TV model,” says Ms. Dufort. “Today, we form the second generation. Our team is entirely web-based and we make sure to determine the format that best suits the content.”

Objective: the rest of the world

The organization’s ambitions do not stop there. La Fabrique culturelle is currently developing projects with Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) and is also building bridges with TV5 Monde and several digital platforms in the world. “Our objective is to increase Quebeckers’ consumption of Quebec culture and to promote our culture beyond the limits of our own territory,” explains Ms. Dufort. “We hope to enter into agreements with cultural broadcasters around the world to ensure that the content we produce is disseminated internationally. It will be a great showcase for Quebec and it will give a hand to the artists.”

Photo credit: La Fabrique culturelle

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Samuel Larochelle
Originally from Abitibi-Témiscamingue and now based in Montreal, Samuel Larochelle has been a freelance journalist since 2012 for some 20 media outlets, including La Presse, HuffPost Quebec, Les Débrouillards, Fugues, L'actualité, Nightlife, Échos Montréal and many others. Also a writer, he has published two novels (À cause des garçons, Parce que tout me ramène à toi), the first two volumes of a series for teenagers and young adults (Lilie l'apprentie parfaite, Lilie l'apprentie amoureuse), as well as literary news in three collectives (Treize à table, Comme chiens et chats, Sous la ceinture - Unis pour vaincre la culture du viol).
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