Arts & Culture: The Gateway to International Business Development

All the stars lined up.

For many years the Festival has been a leading presenter in the U.S. of Quebec’s most outstanding performing artists, especially in the world of new circus, which has become a signature of Montreal’s cultural sector. Add to that a much anticipated new development in downtown New Haven at the former Coliseum site from the Montreal-based developer Live Work Learn Play and a little bit of money available for upgrades and restoration of the New Haven Green and Mayor Harp said “Road trip”! Well, she didn’t say that exactly--- but it was clear that a visit to our inspiring colleagues to the North made great sense.

It also helped that two major international in-roads have become part of the Festival’s portfolio of networks and relationships. In January, I am proud to say, that I was elected by my global peers to be the Chair of the Board of ISPA, the International Society of Performing Arts. And as it happens ISPA will host its 100th global Congress in Montreal in May 2017. Also this year, the Festival was invited to be a founding member of the newly established Global Cultural District Network. The Network was founded in collaboration the Quartier des Spectacles, Montreal’s major arts and entertainment district, ranked among the top 10 districts of its kind in the world. Festival staff were already planning a trip for a New England meeting of that group during Montreal’s famous winter festival Nuit Blanche.

And so, as I said, all the stars lined up!

The dynamic, progressive Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and his team generously hosted us, organizing a great day of meetings that built on New Haven and Montreal common aspirations. In addition to the Quartier des Spectacle leadership, the Mayor, Ginny Kozlowski, head of New Haven’s Economic Development Corporation, and Andy Wolf, New Haven’s director of Cultural Affairs met with the innovation and entrepreneurial sector at the Notman House; talked Smart City’s and the attributes of our own New Haven-based See Click Fix with Harout Chitilian, Vice Chair of Montreal Smart City Initiatives; had an interesting visit to the Society of Arts & Technology; and shared notes with Montreal’s biotech cluster. Again perfectly timed as the Mayor would be heading home to cut the ribbon on the new global headquarters of Alexion Pharmaceuticals here in New Haven.

mayors.jpegIt all wrapped up with an extremely collegial meeting between Mayor Denis Coderre and Mayor Toni Harp with pledges to look for substantive opportunities to collaborate in the future. And so everyone went home with a shopping bag of opportunities and ideas to follow up on.

But with all the excitement in seeing a city built on its commitment to culture, creativity and education, the big takeaway for me was that everyone, regardless of the sector, from the Mayor to the tech team at the Quartier, EVERYONE, talked about trust as the key element to working together to make great things possible for EVERYONE. Trust and equity. Montreal’s secret sauce. Inspiring!

Photo at top is of us gathered at the Notman House, Montreal’s incubator for start-up ecosystem and one of 9 North American tech hubs in the Google Network for Entrepreneurs (left to right):
Chad Herzog, IFAI Director of Programming, Toni N. Harp, Mayor of New Haven, Mr. Harout Chitilian, Vice-Chair, Executive Committee, Responsable of Smart City and IT, Ms. Béatrice Couture, General Manager, Innocité Montréal, Andy Wolf, Director of New Haven’s Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism, Ginny Kozlowski, Executive Director of Economic Development Corporation of New Haven, Mary Lou Aleskie, IFAI Executive Director.

Inset photo: Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre with New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp. (c) Sylvain Légaré, photographer for the City of Montréal.