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Cole Foundation’s IC-CI program celebrating 15 years of crucial conversation | Arts

Twice a year the Cole Foundation’s Intercultural Conversations-Conversations Interculturelles (IC-CI) program disperses hundreds of thousands of dollars to support professional Montreal theatre companies to produce, commission and translate plays that show diversity on stage.

This encourages greater understanding of Montreal’s intercultural reality by having audiences both learn about and see their stories presented. For the recent fall competition, 13 companies were given instrumental grants for a total of $225,000 for the 2024-25 season, as well as added funding for post-show audience talkbacks to continue the conversation initiated in the production.

Over the past 15 years the Cole Foundation has cultivated and strengthened a catalogue of theatrical work incorporating themes of inclusion and dialogue. “It is a privilege to support the creation of work that features diverse cultures, including racial, ethnic and religious viewpoints,” said Cole Foundation President and Chairman, Barry Cole. “The IC-CI grant is founded on the idea that expansion of a community’s world view is an invaluable principle.”

An ever-growing creative and timely focus on diversity

The foundation was delighted to see that this round of grants received an increase in play submissions, including a number of newcomers to the competition, offering a widespread range of ideas, cultures and identities.

Many of the issues are topical and current, taking things from the news to the theatre. Anticipated works by both emerging and awarded playwrights range from intimate solo performances to stage-filled spectacles.

Cole Foundation’s IC-CI program celebrating 15 years of crucial conversation

Theatre de la Sentinelle, “M’appelle Mohammed Ali” by Dieudonné Niangouna.

Recipients of the latest competition

IC-CI grants encourage Montreal companies to offer diverse, cross-cultural shared experiences by telling impactful narratives.

“With this show, we offer an outstretched hand towards ‘the other’. The Cole Foundation instills in us the freedom and confidence to do so according to our convictions,” said Dany Boudreault, co-artistic director, La Messe Basse.

“The Cole Foundation’s IC-CI grant makes it possible for us to support new work by Black Canadian writers, and open up conversations for cultural exchange and understanding, while proudly contributing to the national theatre ecology in a meaningful way with longstanding impact,” said Dian Marie Bridge, Black Theatre Workshop Artistic Director.

“We have spent so many hours researching archives and interviewing family members and can now weave all this trove of information into a script that will be a precious tool in understanding who we are as Wendats. The Cole Foundation has proven to be an exceptional ally in allowing Indigenous dramaturgy and storytelling to grow in Tio-tia-ke,” said Productions Menuentakuan Artistic Director Charles Bender.

 “Since 2012, with the support of the Cole Foundation, we have tried to tell the story of Montreal in all its diversity, to reach out to all Montrealers regardless of their origins. The foundation is an invaluable and irreplaceable partner,” said Mani Soleymanlou, artistic director of Orange Noyée.

Commissioning grants are:

  • Geordie Productions — Nikanihk, by Todd Houseman;
  • Productions Menuentakuan — Yahndawa’; Ce que nous sommes, by Marie-Josée Bastien;
  • Système Kangourou — Paysages en filiation, by Claudine Robillard and Anne-Marie Guilmaine;
  • Théâtre UBU Inc. — Chronologies, by Stephie Mazunya.

Cole Foundation’s IC-CI program celebrating 15 years of crucial conversation

Festival TransAmériques, “Carte noire nommé désir”by Rebecca Chaillon.

Production grant awards go to:

  • Productions Onishka — Nigamon/Tunai, by Émilie Monnet and Waira Nina;
  • Black Theatre Workshop — Diggers, by Donna-Michelle St.Bernard, and Vierge by Rachel Mutombo;
  • Festival TransAmériques — Carte noire nommé désir, by Rebecca Chaillon;
  • La Messe Basse — Sur les traces, by Dany Boudreault and Gurshad Shaheman; Lara Kramer Danse — Rétrospective Lara Kramer Windigo + Them Voices; Orange Noyée — Il neige sur Abidjan, by Iannicko N’Doua;
  • Théâtre de la Sentinelle — M’appelle Mohammed Ali, by Dieudonné Niangouna; Théâtre de Quat’Sous — Fin de l’homme rouge, by Svetlana Alexievitch, adapted by Catherine de Léan.

Translation grant for:

  • Segal Centre for the Performing Arts — Josephine: A Musical Cabaret, by Tymisha Harris, Michael Marinaccio and Tod Kimbro.

There are two annual Intercultural Conversations- Conversations Interculturelles grants, in October and April. The deadline for the next competition of the award is Friday, March 29, 2024 at 5 p.m.

Theatre companies interested in applying for a grant can download the necessary application forms and information from the Cole Foundation’s web site at

— Cole Foundation

— AB