Cirque du Soleil has aspired to be an agent of change since its inception, and the decision in the late 1990s to establish its International Headquarters in the Saint-Michel district of Montreal sprang from the desire to select a location where the company's presence could have the greatest possible positive influence. The choice of Saint-Michel, in the north of Montreal, one of the most sensitive neighborhoods in Canada, gave Cirque the opportunity to take actions that would have a meaningful impact in the local community.
La TOHU: a city of circus arts
The late 1990 marks the rise of a great project in Montreal: assembling a critical mass of circus arts creation, training, production and performance infrastructures. So in 1999 Cirque du Soleil took the initiative of involving its private and public partners in the creation of La TOHU. Founded in 2003 in association with the National Circus School and En Piste, the Circus Arts National Network, the non-profit organization (NPO) has a triple mission: to make Montreal a world capital of circus arts, to take an active part in the rehabilitation of the Saint-Michel Environmental Complex, one of the biggest urban waste disposal sites in North America and to contribute to the development of the Saint-Michel district in Montreal. Cirque du Soleil has supported La TOHU ever since, with monetary and non-monetary initiatives.
Arts Nomades: contributing to academic success and student retention
Created in 2006 by Cirque du Soleil, Montreal arts school l’École Buissonnière and the Saint-Michel community, the Arts Nomades program is dedicated to schoolchildren of the Saint-Michel neighborhood. Through arts and culture, Arts Nomades aims to contribute to the children’s personal and social development. Its pedagogical approach brings together artist-teachers and school teachers, working in close collaboration to facilitate dance, circus arts and plastic arts workshops, create shows and exhibits, and organize cultural outings.