New boost to bilateral relations between Quebec and the Basque Country

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  • Bingen Zupiria and Marian Elorza, accompanied by the directors of Foreign Relations and the Etxepare Euskal Institutua/Basque Institute, held an online meeting with the Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications

  • The meeting helped give new impetus to the new Saison Quebec Pays Basque cultural exchange meeting

The Minister of Culture and Language Policy, Bingen Zupiria, the Basque Government General Secretariat for External Affairs, Marian Elorza, the Director of External Affairs Myriam Larroulet, and the director from the Etxepare Euskal Institutua/Basque Institute, Irene Larraza, met online this afternoon with the Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications and Member of Parliament for Montarville, Nathalie Roy. The minister was accompanied by Isabelle Dessureault, Director of the Québec Office in Barcelona.

As highlighted by the Minister of Culture and Language Policy, the meeting helped reactivate the relations maintained by the Directorate of Foreign Affairs and Etxepare Euskal Institutua, with the Quebec cultural administration with the aim of giving a new impetus to bilateral relations and to culminate in the organisation of a cultural exchange meeting. Therefore, during the second half of this year 2021 and throughout 2022, the Saison Québec-Pays Basque exchange project will showcase contemporary Basque culture and creation in Québec, while the work of Quebec creators will be on display in the Basque Country with the aim of strengthening the relationship between both countries through language, culture and art.

According to the minister, “the institutional and cultural relations between Quebec and the Basque Country already have a consolidated tradition that was reflected in the 2017 Protocole d'entente [MOU], signed between both administrations for the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions promoted by the UNESCO Convention, for the exchange of good practices in matters of common interest for their respective linguistic policies and mutual support in economic matters, in relations with international consortia and in the exchange of knowledge on environmental issues”.

Zupiria also stressed that today's meeting served to “establish an initial contact” with the Minister of Quebec and, above all, to “give a definitive boost from our political and administrative areas of responsibility” to the organisation of the 2020-2021 Quebec-Euskadi cultural cooperation programme. The minister added that the pandemic forced the programme’s “inevitable” postponement to 2021-2022 but stressed the “great importance” of "ensuring the cultural exchange” between Basque and Quebec creators.

Season Québec-Pays Basque

The ultimate purpose of the Basque Government and Etxepare Euskal Institutua is to recover the pace of relations and bilateral collaboration that was already underway to allow the definitive launch of various actions and activities from the second half of this year in areas such as literature, dance, theatre, audiovisual production, music and the visual arts with the participation of institutions, agents and artists from both communities.

Today's meeting helped give new impetus to the new Saison Quebec - Pays Basque Programme. This cultural and artistic programme taking place in the major cities of Quebec and the Basque Country has two main lines of work: firstly, the exchange of content from different cultural agents and the definition of schedules for events, festivals and fairs; as well as the collaboration between agents and participation in international projects

Cultural collaborations

In 2019, the Etxepare Basque Institute began creating a framework for cultural collaboration with the priority territories of the Euskadi Basque Country strategy and the development of a cultural programme. The first result was the Scotland Goes Basque 2019 initiative, a cultural programme promoting the Basque language and Basque culture in Scotland throughout 2019.

The 2020 target was Quebec, following the MOU Protocole d'entente signed in 2017 by the Basque Government and the Québec government Quebec, just like Scotland, is one of the territories considered strategic by the General Secretariat for External Affairs.

The project, promoted by the Etxepare Institute, aims to promote collaboration between cultural agents and creators. In fact, there are more than 30 Basque and Quebecois agents collaborating in the different events. The Basque ones include EIZIE, Mintzola, Bertsozale Elkartea, Azkuna Zentroa, Euskal PEN Kluba, Euskal Kultur Erakundea (EKE), Dantzagunea, Dantzaz Konpainia, Tabakalera, the Basque Film Library, Musikagileak and Bitamine Faktoria.

The following projects are some that will be launched in the next few months through the Saison Québec-Pays Basque programme: “Itzultzaile Berriak - Nouveaux Traducteurs”, the seminar “La voix des autres - Besteen ahotsa” at the Université LAVAL, the dance creation residency at the Ecole de Danse Montreal. Some of these will be live if the current situation allows, while others will take place online.

In March this year, a film series - Saison Québec-Pays Basque - was held at the Tabakalera cultural centre, attended by the Director of the Québec office in Barcelona, Isabelle Dessureault.

Promoted by the Basque Government Secretariat for External Affairs, there have also been two calls for grants for technical cooperation projects with the Québec Region within the framework and the more general aim of consolidating and strengthening bilateral relations with the Network of Strategic Regions for the Basque Country.

However, while the Saison Québec-Pays Basque programme was to take place in 2020, most of the initiatives are still in place and will take place in the second half of 2021 and in 2022.