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Montréal, cultural metropolis

Key issues

Agenda 21 for culture: Culture at the core of area development

What is Agenda 21?

In 1992, the concept for Agenda 21 emerged from the Rio Earth Summit. The term “Agenda” means an action plan and the number “21” refers to the 21st century. While conditions are governed by globalization, an area’s stakeholders implement sustainable development strategies focused on three aspects:

  • Environmental protection;
  • Economic efficiency;
  • Social equity.

Agenda 21 de la culture

What is Agenda 21 for culture?

1. Agenda 21 for culture is an opportunity to redefine local development!
Focusing on cultural issues, Agenda 21 for culture was adopted on May 8, 2004 in Barcelona by the communities present at the IVth Forum of Local Authorities for Social Inclusion of Porto Alegre. With an international outlook, this text has received the approval of cities, local governments and organizations throughout the world that are committed to cultural diversity, participatory democracy, human rights and the establishment of conditions for peace.

In reference to the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001), it promotes cultural diversity as one of the “essential elements in the transformation of urban and social reality” and emphasizes the balance to be struck by cultural policy between private and public interests.

Finally, Agenda 21 for culture centres on the conviction that culture is the fourth pillar of sustainable development and proposes to establish solid links with other spheres of activity and governance.

  • Agenda 21 for culture is implemented at two levels:
  • At the international level, the Committee on Culture of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). The objective of its program for 2011-2013 is to “promote culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development (…) through the international dissemination and the local implementation of Agenda 21 for culture”;
  • At the local level, each signatory (cities, networks, territories, organizations, etc) participates in the development of structures that further cultural diversity, citizen participation and integrated area development. They recognize and support the cultural sector as an essential element of development.

2. Various Agendas 21 for culture: the example of Québec’s Agenda 21 for culture Agenda 21 de la culture

Since 2004, cities around the world have developed their own Agenda 21 for culture, and so has the European Union. In Québec, the Ministry of Culture, Communications and the Status of Women (MCCCF) launched its Agenda 21 for culture project in September of 2010, making Québec the first provincial state to do so. From November 2010 to May 2011, 4000 participants proposed contents for this new frame of reference. Following the National Forum on the future of culture in Québec held on May 30, 2011, the committee led by the MCCCF was tasked with writing the Agenda 21C pour le Québec, which will be launched at the end of 2011. This project is intended to act as the impetus for change in the development of Québec’s society, and will have an impact on all government agencies and ministries as well as partners such as cities.

Agenda 21 for culture and Montréal

1. Montréal’s activities and the Committee on Culture of United Cities and Local Governments

On June 21, 2005, the Ville de Montréal Municipal Council ratified Agenda 21 for culture.

“By adopting Agenda 21 for culture, Montréal is undertaking to make culture a key dimension of its urban policies (...) By doing so, Montréal is participating in a worldwide movement aimed at promoting an open, pluralistic culture.” [translation]
Ville de Montréal press release, June 21, 2005.

In 2007, Montréal became a founding member of the Committee on Culture of United Cities and Local Governments.

Since October 2010, Montréal has been one of the vice-chairs of the UCLG Committee on Culture, alongside Buenos Aires, Lille, and Stockholm. Barcelona chairs the committee.

Montréal Métropole Culturel

Finally, the UCLG Executive Bureau, on which Mayor Gérald Tremblay acts as UCLG Vice-President, adopted the position outlined in the policy statement “Culture: Fourth Pillar of Sustainable Development” in November of 2010.

2. Montréal, a Cultural Metropolis: an action plan based on the principles and values of Agenda 21 for culture

The 2007-2017 Action Plan – Montréal, a Cultural Metropolis reflects the principles of Agenda 21 for culture :

  • Participatory, it was developed with all of the 1300 stakeholders of civil society attending the November 2007 Rendez-vous – Montréal, a Cultural Metropolis while referring to the adoption of the Cultural Development Policy, which arose from the Montréal summit and included public consultations;
  • Cross-cutting; it affects different lines of activity and is governed by 5 cultural, institutional and business partners: Culture Montréal, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, the Government of Canada, the Government of Québec and the Ville de Montréal;
  • Promoting cultural diversity, it invites all Montrealers to participate in the city’s cultural life by making a greater investment in arts and culture, and by improving the access to culture and the quality of the cultural environment.

3. Examples of Montréal’s actions
The following are among the projects and organizations supported by the Ville de Montr éal:

  • The Quartier des spectacles reaffirms creativity, design and culture’s place in Montréal, as can be seen especially in the Lighting Plan or more generally in the development of the Place des Festivals, where cultural events are held.
  • New libraries are the focus of architectural competitions that comply with LEED performance criteria and are meant to be true living spaces for citizens. (See the current renovation, construction and development (RAC) program);
  • The TOHU, formerly known as the Cité des arts du cirque, has structured its mission as three components: a cultural component to secure Montréal’s place as an international capital for circus arts; an environmental component to participate in the rehabilitation of the Saint-Michel Environmental Complex, and a community component to contribute to the development of Montréal’s Saint-Michel borough, one of the most sensitive areas in Canada.
  • Cultural mediation was established as a priority among intervention strategies and the orientation of the Cultural Development Policy and the 2007-2017 Action Plan. As an example, 440 mediation projects have been carried out by 107 professional cultural organizations and the 19 Montréal boroughs between 2005 and 2011 (see the new site In addition, an evaluation of the cultural impact of these projects began in 2008;

The Continental XL at the Festival TransAmériques

To find out more on:

Agenda 21 for culture
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