In May 2011, young Cirque du Monde participants from Quebec travelled to Wemotaci, an Atikamekw community some five hours from Montreal, to take part in the program’s annual gathering, celebrating its 16 years in existence. These young people from all over Quebec received a warm welcome from the residents of Wemotaci, who were extremely pleased to be playing host to this merry troupe for three days! The event was organized by Cirque du Soleil and its local partner, the Wemotaci social services branch of the Conseil de la Nation Atikamekw. Several activities took place over the weekend, including a parade and the performance of a show—the highlight of a jam-packed year for young people from the communities involved in Cirque du Monde: Drummondville, Montreal, Quebec, Baie-Saint-Paul, Sherbrooke, Victoriaville, Wemotaci and Manawan, as well as the Inuit Cirqiniq program.
During the summer of 2011, Cirque du Soleil, the Fédération Équestre du Québec via its Équi-Qualité certified members and TOHU got together for an original initiative: EQUIFOLIA. This project allowed the children of the Saint-Michel neighbourhood in Montreal—among the most at-risk in Canada—to discover equestrian circus. Comprising a series of circus-themed equestrian games, EQUIFOLIA allowed the participants to learn while having fun. The project aimed, among other things, to achieve psychomotor, social and relational objectives via a safe, fun experience filled with humour, creativity and poetry. Respect, discipline, cooperation, attention, patience, self-confidence, the ability to be assertive but tactful, physical fitness and sense of responsibility are just some of the benefits to be gained by spending time with horses. 800 children registered in the Saint-Michel day camps were able to experience EQUIFOLIA through the month of July 2011.
Thanks to the annual school supply drive organized, Montreal employees were able to furnish the proper equipment to the children of 400 Saint-Michel families just in time for the beginning of the 2011 school year.
Organized in partnership with the Montreal Arts Council and La TOHU, the Prelude program was offered in 2011 to two groups of seven artists from the Saint-Michel neighbourhood, in a professionalization process in different performing arts disciplines. During a twelve-week period, these artists benefited from technical and professional resources, in order to help their creation projects progress, and to contribute to their professional development and management. The program aims to enrich their artistic approach by offering personalized accompaniment and access to rehearsal space while fostering contact with other creators and artistic disciplines.
Cirque du Soleil has also announced its participation in the establishment of the National Theatre School of Canada’s (NTS) Creation and Technology Fund by investing $ 1 million over 5 years. National Bank of Canada, CIBC, AGF Management and Industrial Alliance will also contribute, ensuring that it will continue to grow for years to come. The NTS is a large talent pool where Cirque finds some of its experts in creation and production. Today, several NTS alumni work with Cirque du Soleil in fields as varied as props, production management, design, stage management, project management, etc. With the Creation and Technology Fund, students and teachers of the NTS will have access to advanced technological resources. Cirque du Soleil wants to promote the development of a new generation of highly skilled professionals that will contribute to its longevity and help its long-term development. Through this partnership, Cirque wishes that all the cultural industry will benefit from developing high-level specialists who will participate in Quebec’s cultural effervescence in the performing arts field.
From an environmental standpoint, 2,911,000 liters of rainwater were collected at International Headquarters and used for sanitary equipment, landscaping maintenance and watering the vegetable gardens. 62% of non-hazardous waste generated at the International Headquarters was also recycled or composted. The printers used in offices were also replaced by less energy-consuming machines, some of which run on solid ink and generate 90% less waste than conventional laser equipment.