La Machinerie des arts: helping artists manage

May 31, 2017

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Professional artists have to cope with constant pressure to be original and stay relevant. On top of that, they need to manage a long list of essential administrative duties. It should come as no surprise that some artists find their managerial role a perplexing chore.

After four years of groundwork, La Machinerie opened its doors in September 2016 with the mission of helping artists with the business side of their work. To learn more about this unique organization’s role, we spoke with executive director Rachel Billet.

How did the Machinerie get started?

We’d noticed that the current system requires that artists be managers, even though that’s not their raison d’être. Many of them are left to their own devices in administrative matters – not every artist or company is able to build its own team to meet organizational needs. That’s where we come in. We support them throughout the process, and give them the tools they need to move their projects forward and fulfill their duties. We already have 150 members and want to expand the community so that there’s even more sharing of experiences, knowledge and practical advice.

How does it work?

It starts with artists, who come to us and tell us what they need and what’s holding them back. We do an assessment, sign a service agreement, and introduce them to other members, fellow cultural professionals. The services artists and companies require typically involve help with grant applications, accounting support services, the development of professional tools, and any other support services an artist might need. We also host expert workshops focusing on specific issues, which gives participants a forum for discussing their issues with their peers.

How does your mission complement those of the professional associations?

We work with the associations to understand the issues and problems facing artists in different disciplines. What sets us apart is not just our mandate, but that we work directly with artists to create a work plan that’s right for them. And our mission is flexible, in that it’s our community members who take ownership of it, based on the specific needs identified.

Are administrative matters a significant obstacle to success for some artists?

Absolutely. Unfortunately there’s a “natural selection” process in this area, because artists who want to succeed today can’t neglect the management aspect of their career. If they do, they’ll be out of the game. La Machinerie des arts helps them focus on their art, and find the right support for their particular situation.

Who are your services aimed at?

Our services are for all professional artists and companies in the living arts (theatre, dance, music and circus). The greatest area of need is theatre, but we want to break down barriers between the disciplines and serve the entire community, because in administrative terms, there are structural similarities between the various disciplines.

How does La Machinerie des arts see its future?

We want to create a long-term guidance program, on timelines of anywhere from a few months to three years, for example. That way we’ll be able to help artists more effectively and give them management support for business development, strategic planning, marketing – essentially every aspect of the business of art. We also want to better equip our community by giving members timely, specific answers through our web platform.

Machinerie des arts
2 Sainte-Catherine St. East, suite 101