Isabelle GOUDOU, University of Quebec at Montreal, Canada
In October 2020, the report of a survey by the Société des musées du Québec (SMQ) indicates a 43% drop in jobs compared to 2019, underlines a 65% drop in attendance and confirms a loss of 34M$ from April to September 2020 for 120 of the 262 member institutions of its network. On March 22, 2020, when François Legault - Premier of Quebec - announced the shutdown of non-essential businesses and services, the measure was greeted with as much concern as relief in the face of the galloping spread of the virus. The COVID-19 health crisis marked a breakthrough by imposing social distancing as a new standard and an almost exclusively virtual mode of communication. On social media where the true and the false coexist in cacophony, the valorization of a spiritualist and existentialist thought, as well as that of experiential approaches, encourage a relativistic reading of the facts under the guise of the supposed exercise of the critical mind, sometimes leading to rejection of rationality and the scientific method. For managers of online museum communities, the multiplication of audiences, associated with the plurivocality of opinions and the political commitment conducive to these spaces have challenged them to interact with new audiences. In museums, practitioners are mobilizing to rethink mediation practices with audiences, because confinement shifts the traditional channels of cultural transmission outside the walls and the recent reckoning on race forces a rethinking of content and practices. Timing is right for digital experimentation to stimulate public engagement and develop new partnerships. June 1, 2020, as the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto participates in #BlackoutTuesday in an Instagram post - where it commits to deepen its efforts to end institutional racism and strengthen accessibility, equity, diversity and inclusion - the publication receives more than 150 comments, among which former staff members denounce the discriminatory practices of the institution towards them. The same week, on the same media, James Young - CEO of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) - also committed to collaborate with black, indigenous and colored people and recognized his responsibility to ensure an anti-racist climate within its institution. As of January 2021, the impact of these identity claims is enforced at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) in Ottawa, which communicates on Instagram the appointment of Tania Lafrenière as Senior Vice-President of People, Culture and Belonging; and Angela Cassie as vice president of strategic transformation and inclusion. On April 7, 2021, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MBAM) announces on its website that Eunice Bélidor - 34, the first black woman in the museum's 161-year history to obtain a decision-making position - will become the curator of the contemporary Quebec and Canadian art.