Profile: Engrenage Noir/LEVIER (Montreal)

28 04 2010

Engrenage Noir / LEVIER is a Montreal-based non-profit community and activist arts support organization intended to stimulate dialogue about healthy interdependence and ethical responsiveness while encouraging artistic creation addressing the systemic causes of poverty.” (web) LEVIER has been co-directed since its inception in 2001 by Johanne Chagnon and Devora Neumark. Johanne is an artist with many years experience in public intervention and amongst the founding members of ESSE arts + opinions, a Québecois cultural journal that she edited for 20 years. Devora is an interdisciplinary artist and has experience with violence reduction community work. She is now doing her PhD at Concordia University’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture, on the role that beauty plays in the (un)making of home relative to forced displacement.

Devora explained that “LEVIER” means a leaver, and that this is an important symbol for the organization. Its mandate is to support community and humanist activist art projects in the process of becoming self-sustaining. It is a resource that provides advocacy, training and funding support.

Engrenage Noir / LEVIER works with projects and organizations that serve older youth and adults.

Projects which get supported by Engrenage Noir / LEVIER receive training, grant writing, funding and administration help. Previously supported project participants, in turn, become the trainers for subsequent programs. Engrenage Noir / LEVIER works on ethics and group dynamics, with the outcome of developing stronger and healthier communities.

Engrenage Noir / LEVIER is really good at “meeting people where they are” and is known for their “flexibility and commitment to the critical conversation around community art and activism as a cultural force.” They are recognized also for their ethical engagement.

In September this year, Engrenage Noir/ LEVIER is publishing a book in collaboration with Lux Éditeur: Affirming Collaboration: 69 Community and Activists Art Projects in Québec and Beyond / Célébrer la collaboration : 69 projets d’art communautaire et activiste au Québec et au-delà.

Engrenage Noir / LEVIER will be presenting at the Common Weal Community Arts Inc. conference this May. Two participants from the LEVIER-supported project “Raising Mom,” will be presenting their experiences. The project was created for and by young women who were participants in The Head and Hands Community Centre who decided to work through their issues as young moms living in poverty through art.

The resource’s catchment area is primarily Québec, however their work extends beyond provincial boundaries. They are very committed to international exchange programs as well. The languages of service are French and English. They have directly worked with about 38 community organizations/projects implicating many individuals who self-identify as artists and many others who do not. The arts disciplines supported are everything from street performance, spoken word, sound and visual arts.

LEVIER’s challenges this year are to be cautious of over commitment, keeping the work bilingual, assuring circulation, and continuing to stimulate critical thinking about community and activist art in the struggle against the systemic forces that lead to poverty.

ArtBridges interview with Devora Neumark March 4, 2010.

Please see ArtBridges’ Google Map for contact information.


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2 responses

27 05 2010
Morgan Lord

If only more people would read about this..

26 06 2010
Diane28mtl

I am glad to have found and read this and want to know more… I would like to contact LEVIER for support on a project: http://www.leaf.ca/youth

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