Rather than championing culture only for an elite group of professionals – and asking for money just for the huge institutions – Culture Montreal was better received by city and provincial governments, says Brault. Their goals were less arrogant: to increase cultural access for Montrealers, and to include culture as part of the solution to any civic problems. They achieved this, Brault says, by making everyone feel as though culture was a daily part of everyone’s life, not something for a sophisticated few. “There is definitely room for starchitects, but it’s always better to tap into local culture rather than buy it from outside. You can’t do culture in a city without involving citizens,” he said.
So, which is the better way for cities – bottom-up cultural movements or big-ticket splashes? “Of course, there will always be top-down decisions,” Brault said. “The key is to look for a middle ground.”