My name is Margot Chambon and I am ending my third year at McGill University. I am majoring in Art History and I have a double minor in Communication Studies and World Cinema. Before the start of my internship, I had been working at the Redpath museum as an educator for almost a year. I would like to pursue my studies in Museum studies, as I wish to work either as a curator in a museum or in art non-profits organizations.
My objectives during this internship were to familiarize myself with cultural management and understand what curating cultural events entails (production, budget, communication, marketing, etc.). My host organization is called Artch, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on professionalizing young Montrealer artists. 20 artists are selected each year, are given an award and have access to trainings around art entrepreneurship. This then leads to an exhibition that usually takes place in September in the Dorchester Square. The goal of this project is also to democratize art by organizing workshops that help the public understand how the Canadian art market works or how to invest in art. Indeed, Artch wants to make art accessible to a wide public and not only to connoisseurs or actors in the artistic world.
As an intern, my responsibilities included the promotion of the event by handling the social media aspect of communications. I also organized the activities (panels, workshops with community centres, online activities on social media with the artists) and found cultural partners to finance the activities. I also had administrative tasks like creating an online form or writing about the artists. I was also in charge communicating with artists and create activities for them. Due to COVID-19, all the trainings and exchanges with the artists were online which made it hard to create an interactive and dynamic environment. One of my goals was to find ways to organize remote team-building for the artists and keep them informed of all the opportunities for artists in Montreal more generally. I also helped in the conception of the virtual exhibition that will take place in parallel to the physical one as well as the virtual opening.
One of the highlights of my internship was to organize the panels. Conceiving panels gave me a lot of freedom to create debate themes around the art world in Montreal. One of my favorite topics was a discussion on the future of the art market, artists, galleries, and museums in Montreal post-COVID-19 and understanding how the sanitary crisis impacted the cultural economy. I had the opportunity to interact with curators, collectors and artists that had incredible insight on the topic.
I would say that the main challenge I encountered was starting my internship remotely. The lack of physical interaction with my co-workers and learning how to do tasks without always being able to ask questions right away was a bit difficult. Although we had weekly Zoom meetings and we used online platforms to communicate, working from home without seeing anyone for two whole months was challenging. On the bright side, I learnt how to use many online tools (Excel, Airtable, Trello, Slack), how to organize online meetings, organize a virtual exhibition and online activities which are skills that will serve me in the future as art is becoming more and more virtual.
I will receive credit for this class (ARTH490), but I have not yet been attributed a supervisor. I am thinking of writing my thesis on the necessity to transform the art world into a more inclusive space (which is what Artch is doing). Exhibiting in public spaces has its own challenges but it makes art more accessible to a public that does not necessarily go to museums or galleries. It allows Artch to reach out to a more diverse audience which may be a very interesting topic to work on.
This internship encouraged me to pursue my studies in Museum Studies as I am sure now that curating exhibitions and organizing cultural events is what I want to do. It also allowed me to put into practice all the theory that I have learnt at McGill. I think the internship gave me tools that are complementary to my studies at McGill, giving me a more complete training in my field overall.
I would like to think the merit and need-based funding for giving me this award. Without it, I would not have been able to pay my rent and living expenses in Montreal during the summer. With COVID-19, it was nearly impossible to find a job, and being based in Montreal for an internship anyway, I could not go back home. The award was a great opportunity to stay in Montreal and get an amazing internship experience.