Since 1972, Jean-Claude Poitras has been creating a remarkable work. As a Canadian fashion leader and an ambassador recognised worldwide, he has presented his collections on the greatest international catwalks. He has won national and international recognition, from Moda del Amo Awards in California to Fil d’or in Monte-Carlo, and from ARC Award in Toronto to La Griffe d’or in Montreal. He has received the National Order of Quebec and the Order of Canada. Throughout his career, his communication skills have led him to have a high media profile. As a speaker and columnist, he acts as an art of living guide and shares his love of beauty with a large audience. In view of his prolific career, he says that he now has « a story to tell, a heritage to bequeath, and a work to carry on ». On his own, he embodies the diversity and proliferation of the arts that are represented by La Virée des Ateliers.
Board of directors
From left to right:
- Julia Hall - (VÆNTRAL / Grover), Secretary
- Matisse Makwanda - (VÆNTRAL / Grover), President
- France Parenteau - (Kollontaï / Grover), Director and Coordinator
- Isabelle Desjardins - (Coop Lezarts), Director
- Pierrette Comeau - (Chat des artistes), Treasury Assistant
- François Hudon - (Atalante Artiste / Grover), Treasurer
- Claudine Khelil - (Voies culturelles des faubourgs / Supporting Member), Supporting Member and Director
- Michel Boisvert - (Supporting Member), Archivist and Director
- Vito Papasodaro - (Supporting Member), Grover Owner and Director
The Grover building was built in 1923, north of the Pied-du-Courant prison and close to the Stade De Lorimier. Back then, the area was a working-class neighbourhood full of shops where craftsmen brought their work to the factories.
Anticipating an increase in its activity, the Knit-to-Fit textile factory built a second wing in 1941. In the 1950s, the factory was hiring more than 500 people in the clothing industry. In 1970, Marvin Grover (the founder’s son) and his wife gave a second life to the factory by making women’s clothing. However, in 1993, because of the increasingly competitive international market, the factory was closed.
Starting in 1994, the building was transformed into rental spaces for small companies. Its new occupants (self-employed workers and small cultural or industrial enterprises) found at the Grover building high, illuminated rooms with large windows, and solid “mil run” floors for their equipment. They have given the building a new lease on life while carrying on the tradition of creating and maintaining jobs in a district devastated by the closure of factories and the hollowing out of enterprises.
When the project of transforming the Grover factory into a residential complex was announced in 2004, a group of artists gathered together during the two years that lasted the procedures in order to purchase the building and protect its cultural vocation. Despite their efforts, in 2006, the Grover factory became the property of a private developer, Les Immeubles Grover S.E.C. Nevertheless, the building has kept its creative vocation, among other reasons because of the City’s intervention through zoning, which established the street as an employment area. The Grover’s case received considerable attention, thus helping the authorities and numerous citizens becoming aware of both the ateliers’ importance for Montreal’s cultural vitality and the positive impact creators have on the districts in which they settle.
The Grover building is located between the Grande Bibliothèque and the Maison de la culture Frontenac. With more than 200,000 square feet, La Grover is the building with the largest number of ateliers and workshops within the Faubourgs’ cultural creation hub. The building also hosts architects, computer graphics designers, theatre companies, film producers, publishers, related service businesses, and community groups that are very much involved in the borough of Ville-Marie. All these occupants make the Grover building a vast hive of activity. It is the diversity of cultural workers and artists that makes this type of places real “cultural hubs” in Montreal.
The first project of Ateliers créatifs Montréal, Chat des Artistes, is a building dedicated to creation for artists, artisans, and cultural organizations. This building, which was a textile factory in the 1960s, was inaugurated on December 4th, 2008 as the Chat des artistes. It has now become a unique place of creative synergy. Spread over three floors and 30,000 square feet, 46 ateliers and more than 65 artists, artisans, and cultural organizations have settled in the building. To date, about a hundred contractual and regular jobs have been created in more than 25 artistic practices.
Ateliers créatifs Montréal is a non-profit organization that was established to counter the artists’ exodus from Montreal’s central districts. Its mission is to support creation by developing and ensuring the continued existence of places that are dedicated to creation. The organization reaches its goals by offering artists, artisans, and cultural organizations workspaces that are appropriate at affordable rents and free of real estate speculation risks. ACM advocates the importance of keeping artists in the districts that they have helped revitalize.
The Coopérative d'habitation Lézarts is a pool of visual and media artists. It has given a second life to a textile factory in the Centre-Sud borough, transforming it into 33 affordable housings. The Coopérative now serves as a dwelling, a creative centre, a place of production, and a venue, thus supporting the artistic career development of its residents. Since its foundation, the cooperative has met the housing needs of more than 50 artists.
It is the Manhattan Children’s Wear, an old children’s clothing factory, that was converted into housings, each of which is unique. The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) rents one of the apartments to host an international artist; 17 apartments are public housings. The spaces’ configuration allows a few artists to integrate a place of production in their apartments.
The building also counts a venue, called La Chaufferie, where the artists who are part of the cooperative can show their work. In parallel with the cooperative, “La Chaufferie” is the name of an organization whose mission is to broadcast the work of the cooperative’s artists and boost the effervescence of artistic projects in the neighbourhood.