Monday, March 01, 2004

White night, my eye


First if you're an out-of-towner, you gotta understand that folk here go gaga over festivals, I could list 45 festivals that happen in Montr�al before I've had my first coffee, 85 or more, afterwards. One major problem with all the festivals is that they end up making like Wal-Mart for the very things that they are supposedly promoting. There are, what? Half-a-dozen jazz clubs in Montr�al?

All of this as a lead in to the "nuit blanche" which took place from Saturday until Sunday morning over the weekend. (for you out-of-towners, it translates into "all-nighter") It was part of the Hydro-Quebec Festival of Light [consumption]. Nothing like doing an all-nighter to promote the use of electricity, eh? And from a quick scan of the program, both Art Museums in town, and nine galleries in the Belgo building took part. In today's La Presse, Sylvain Poirier raves about the amount of people who straggled in to her gallery (she is quoted as saying "n'aurait jamais imagin� recevoir des dizaines de visiteurs dans sa galerie de l'�difice Belgo... en pleine nuit!" - from Babelfish: "would never have imagined to receive tens of visitors in her gallery of the Belgo Building... in middle of the night!") So one can reasonably imagine that there were more than 11, and less than 99 people who saw the paintings that she had on display by �ric Lamontagne and Mary Hayes. If there were an even 100, than that would translate into 12� per hour.

On a regular Saturday, I would imagine that every gallery in the Belgo does almost 10 times that amount. So why are they raving about the all-nighter? Well, could it be because suddenly the Art Galleries in the Belgo are getting wise to the idea of being open at times when regular people can actually go see the stuff on their walls? Or maybe Hydro-Quebec was throwing some cash their way. Whatever the reason was, I find it bizarre.

Wouldn't it be easier if say, galleries, and museums were regularly open until at least until 9 pm? Most people I know work in between 9 and 5, Monday through Friday. And I do get an awful lot of paperwork done during those hours. But invariably the people who walk in the door here come after 4 pm, and sometimes as late as 10 pm. Hence my vague and ill-defined opening hours. If somebody wants to see art at 10 pm why should I make it impossible for them?

If Mme. Poirier is raving about getting another 100 folk through the door, then perhaps she should think about opening when most people have the ability to go see art. If on the other hand, it is due the festival-itis that possessed the city over the weekend, then this is an even worse thing, because last I heard the budget for something like the Hydro-Qu�bec Festival of Light [consumption] was in the millions of dollars, if spending all that cash then only translates into about a hundred people going to see art, then Montrealer's behavior pretty much needs to be reprogrammed, and quickly. Or maybe they were all tourists and I'm barking up the wrong tree.

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