Organization: Organizing Committee of the 1976 Olympic Games
Produced by the Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXI Olympiad Montréal 1976
From time immemorial, arts and culture have provided a necessary complement to sports activities.
Mens sana in corpore sano. The two elements, sport and art, have always formed a whole based on harmony and balance of the mind. And, since Baron Pierre de Coubertin based his whole philosophy on the need to achieve a balance between mind and body, Olympic regulations therefore stipulate that the organizing committee must set up an arts and culture program in conjunction with the Games.
We often tend to view sports and cultural activities as two separate and opposite entities. In doing so, we forget that both play a fundamental role in society by contributing to the individual’s physical and mental well-being and by strengthening group cohesiveness.
As far back as ancient times, festive gatherings provided people with welcome relief from their difficult daily routine by giving them an opportunity to come together and express themselves through cultural and physical activities. Montréal’s cultural festival offers an impressive panorama of Canadian creativity. The artistic media tell the story of our young and vast land by portraying Canada’s two great cultures as well as her kaleidoscope of ethnic diversity.
Streets, parks, indoor and outdoor theatres in all parts of the city provided the setting for a myriad of productions to which the public was admitted free of charge.
Artists and craftsmen from all parts of Canada took this opportunity to present to the people of Québec and to thousands of visitors an arts festival unprecedented in its variety and scope.
Featuring over 1,500 theatrical and musical productions, works by more than 3,500 artists from all parts of Canada, demonstrations by more than 100 craftsmen, a film festival, poetry readings, numerous exhibitions of prints, photographs and tapestries, this festival aimed at introducing Canada’s multifaceted culture to visitors from all over the world who had gathered for the great Olympic event.
Besides supplying a complete list of activities presented in accordance with the Arts and Culture Program, this book also offers a selection of written material that affords a panoramic view of Canadian art forms.
The diversity and vitality of our artistic life are portrayed through music, theatre, dance, and song. We hope that this program enabled Canadians and visitors alike to become aware of our cultural life.
President of the Organizing Committee and Commissioner – general for the Games of the XXI Olympiad
When you look at a world map you see a huge area called Canada, half a continent of American soil. But the map doesn’t tell you the story of how two historical cultures, originating in old Europe, planted new roots in this soil. They grew and have today taken the face of the country itself.
French culture flourishes mainly in its home ground, Quebec, where French is the official language. It is also still alive among the Acadians of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, as well as in some of the Western Provinces, mainly Manitoba, where the Francophones are a homogeneous group. Even in Ontario, at the heart of English – speaking Canada, nearly one million Francophones make up a solid minority group.
On the other hand, English culture, with contributions from its gaelic cousins, the Scots and the Irish, predominates in Ontario, in the Atlantic Provinces and in the Canadian West. Finally, our multi-cultural society is rounded out by the valuable contribution of large groups with other ethnic origins.
Thus, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, culture is influenced by geography. In the main, the settled parts of Canada are stretched along six thousand kilometers close to an international boundary which hardly acts as a barrier to the United States’ mass media. These are more of a threat to the culture of Anglophones then to that of the French-speaking Canadians who are to some extent protected by their different language. And so, Canada’s two cultures live out their separate ways side by side, yet without being wholly unaware of each other.
It is no easy task to provide a brief account of such varied cultural developments in an immense land. Its variety is further enhanced by the arts of the original inhabitants, Indians and Inuits. In these pages, the reader will find an overview of Canada’s cultural life. It is our hope that this will promote an appreciation of the cultural activities planned on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Montreal. Artists from all parts of Quebec and of Canada will be featured.
May these pages put the reader in touch with the civilization that has planted roots in our country. We are sparing no effort to show the world our cultural identity.
Arts and Culture
Arts and Culture Program
The Arts and Culture Program for the Games of the XXI Olympiad was required by International Olympic Committee rules to be national in scope.
To be truly national, the program had to reflect several considerations implicit in complex cultural activity.
At the outset, it was necessary that all facets of our cultural life be presented with as fair a balance as possible. Then, if the program was to be really national, each province and territory in Confederation, without exception, would have to participate actively, and each ethnic group in Canada would have to be represented. Finally, it was essential that the use of both the French and English languages be respected. And, of course, a national program had to be based on the supposition that there would be many sources of financing, with all the risks posed by this kind of grant at the decision-making level.
The establishment of such a program raised other problems: the availability of performers, budgetary restrictions, such physical limitations as were caused by lodging problems and the inevitable race against time. Such were the factors that had to be considered when establishing the Arts and Culture Program for the 1976 Olympic Games.
Today, every Canadian can be proud that this program testified to the richness, diversity and dynamism of our artistic and cultural life.
Here is what happened: more than 3,000 performers appeared in more than 6,000 hours of entertainment; more than 1,300 works of art were assembled to represent in excess of 1,100 artists while more than 175 Craftsmen agreed to take part in the program. All the events were presented in a 31-day period in four different cities. That is a record which entitles us to be proud.
We extend our thanks to all whose contribution enabled us to make our visitors aware of the diversity of Canadian and Québec cultures.
The contributions were many and varied and included those of artists and craftsmen, writers and poets, authors and composers as well as the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, the Organizing Committee for the 1976 Olympic Games, sponsors, the wonderful Arts and Culture team, the impresarios all supported our efforts when the difficulties we encountered would have been insurmountable without their help.
At times we had to combat the skepticism of those who doubted the existence of cultures that were truly Canadian and Québécois. They thought our efforts too ambitious. That attitude only hardened our determination and encouraged those who had come to share the burden of this tremendous challenge, at least 5,000 of them.
What emerged was a young culture, dynamic and diversified, whose quality never ceased to arouse wonder. That was the image that mirrored our artistic and cultural identity.
The Arts and Culture Program of the Montréal Olympic Games was a faithful witness to that.
Yvon Des Rochers
Arts and Culture Program
The physical version of this product is part of the Federal identity archive.