Due to a deficit of more than $160,000, the Biennale de Montréal has decided to scrap its upcoming edition. Board chair Cédric Bisson told Victoria Stapley-Brown of the Art Newspaper that despite artistic successes, the board had to cancel the event after it was given “inaccurate figures by the management team” during last year’s exhibition.
According to Bisson, former artistic director Sylvie Fortin allegedly contributed to the biennial’s financial difficulties. However, in an interview with La Presse, he said that the board was also responsible for its current situation. Commenting on Fortin and her team, he said, “General management was not their forte.” When asked to elaborate on the matter, Bisson said that three factors were to blame for the exhibition’s mounting debt: unsuccessful fund-raising campaigns, unforeseen costs, and management issues.
While the exhibition attempts to get out of the red, it is also facing criticism from local artists and vendors who claim that they still have not been paid by the biennial for participating in the 2016 iteration. The biennial has faced a number of challenges over the years, including its decision to sever ties with its founding institution, the Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal; frequent changes in leadership; and the postponement of its 2013 edition.
For Bisson, Fortin and her team did “fantastic work in terms of the artistic component.” He stressed that it is important to continue to hold the contemporary art event, but after discussions are held with its sponsors and other stakeholders, it might be held less frequently, becoming a triennial.