Penser créer l'urbain

Cultural Mediation

Mobilize cultural mediation as a method of knowledge and action

The various public workshops of the Forum were designed, organized and facilitated by an interdisciplinary team (Sociology, Design, Art History) of UQAM and Université de Montréal researchers as well as social innovation organizations experienced in mediation techniques and connoisseurs of the surrounding neighbourhoods of the future MIL Campus (Exeko and Mise au jeu). These workshops were carried out in collaboration with the commissioner for cultural mediation of the City of Montreal. The main goal of this Forum was to develop over two days a creative community based on the knowledge of the citizens. It revived the already documented reflection on integrated urban campuses and enriched it with transformative actions (theater-forum, mediation workshops, commented walks in the neighbourhoods, vox pop, directed mapping, prospective co-design on scenarios of circular economy…).

The mediation workshops (theater forum, vox pop, ideation session) imagined by the collective MédiaAction – formed by various actors of the project (researchers, students, mediators) – allowed to experiment, through creative displacements promoting the staging of bodies and the resources of the game, the conditions and the potential of a dialogue between various local actors (from campuses as well as neighbourhoods) with the aim of making possible future joint projects. In addition, one of the proposals (the creation of a zine as a tool for cultural mediation) was developed, within the framework of the master’s and doctoral courses created for the project and entitled “Research methods in urban space”.

The collaborative and participatory research methodologies mobilizing creativity implemented during the Citizen Forum are presented here with their potential and limits by two of the professional mediators involved in the project, William-Jacomo Beauchemin and Luc Gaudet. Two organizations (Exeko and Mise au Jeu) have collaborated in this project, with three common goals: to test collaborative and participatory research methodologies mobilizing creativity; to carry out an open gathering of citizens’ knowledge allowing dialogue to be initiated; and to contribute to citizen mobilization.

Starting from the observation of the discussions held at the Forum and the anonymous evaluation sheets given by the participants, Ève Lamoureux proposes a “lukewarm analysis” of the arrival of the campus. Focusing on the collection of citizens’ knowledge allowing the instigation of a dialogue, she presents the issues identified by the inhabitants of the neighbourhoods encountered during the mediation activities or having participated in the Forum. She suggests possible solutions to counter the “perverse effects related to the arrival of the campus”.

Julie Bruneau and Philippe Doyle-Gosselin reflect on the strengths and limitations of the strategies adopted during the mediation workshops. They present their comments, taking into account the dual mandate they have adopted in this project: first as researchers, by documenting the research process while taking part in it, in the logic of participant observation; and as participants involved in the process of co-creation and implementation of mediation activities afterwards.

Based on the observation that citizens are not well informed about the future campus project, Véronica Gomez and Véronique Granger questioned how to update residents regarding the issue. Inspired by experiences of cultural mediation, the two students propose here a zine –created from interviews with Parc-Extension women and intended for them – as a new mediation tool at the crossroads of arts and citizen action.

Finally, Danièle Racine, commissioner of cultural mediation of the City of Montreal, also revisits this experience as a model of cultural action and inclusive philosophy. The mediation activities of the Citizen Forum are put into perspective within the framework of the projects implemented by the City of Montreal to promote access to culture through meetings and exchanges between citizens, researchers and creators, making the city a space for cultural dialogue and innovation; but also a “cross road” allowing “the design of new territories”.