Lise Létourneau — Engaging with culture

Lise Létourneau — Engaging with culture

Lise Létourneau is the new Chair of Copibec’s Board of Directors. A visual artist and former chair of the Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec (RAAV), she tells us here about looking forward to the challenges in the arts and culture sector. [Her remarks were made as part of an interview.]


Unusual path

I’d like to start by saying how unexpected it is for me to be here as Chair of Copibec’s Board!

It’s a remarkable development because this is the first time this role hasn’t been filled by someone from the literary sector.

Previously, the role as chair alternated between an author and a publisher. That made sense because the two founding associations were the Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois (UNEQ) and the Association nationale des éditeurs de livres (ANEL).

Now I’m here, a visual artist representing the RAAV. I should point out that I know Copibec quite well: I’ve been on the Board since 2008.


Moving between two worlds

I’ve had two separate careers. On a parallel track with my involvement in the arts and culture sector, I was co-owner and manager of an information technology business.

You could say I was as involved in the business world as I was in the cultural sector. I’m able to see the issues from both sides.

I was on the boards of regional cultural councils such as the Conseil de la culture des Laurentides (I’m from the upper Laurentian region). I was there for nearly eight years.

I also managed the Conseil des arts textiles du Québec. At that time, the government was no longer interested in subsidizing anything other than painting, sculpture, etc. Textile arts were left behind.

We wanted to continue focusing on textile arts because we’d developed an entire network outside the country. We fought to keep going.

Eventually, I shut down the Conseil des arts textiles and opened the Diagonale centre for artists.

That was a point of no return for us. It was the only way to keep running an organization dedicated to fibre arts. I was involved with that for six years.

After that, I joined the RAAV.


Business world

I co-founded an IT business in the early 2000s, shortly after the dot-com bubble burst.

We developed a management software solution for hotels.

When you’re trying to convince people that you’re going to develop hotel management software, they’re thinking only about the IT side of it. But it was more complex than that.


Business meets culture

The arts and culture sector has helped me in the business world. And the business world also taught me how to manage the arts and culture sector in a way that could be considered much more pragmatic.

However, I don’t see myself as a pragmatic person at all.

A good entrepreneur is someone who has a vision and who feels it. They can tell whether it will work or not. It therefore takes intuition and a tremendous amount of perseverance.

I realized we have power in that type of governance role, whether we want it or not.

When you’re on a board of directors, you really have the power to make some changes.


Being able to laugh at yourself

For me, humour has always been my weapon of choice or my defence mechanism.

I appreciate simplicity and joy. Little jokes can sometimes make you feel better. You say something funny and the stress level goes down. Humour has served me very well.

Not just at Copibec, but everywhere. At a certain point, it’s helpful to take the drama down a notch by using some humour.


Imposter syndrome

When I was younger, I was afraid of being an imposter.

There were many authors and publishers at Copibec and for them, spelling and structure were very important. So much time could be spent on the minutes of meetings, correcting all the spelling mistakes, adding commas, etc.

I was very concerned about making all sorts of language errors. I didn’t know what to say! I felt very intimidated by those people who were so intellectually rigorous, which I’m not.

I like to live in the present and feel the passion. I’ve learned to live my life that way.

I didn’t even draft my first message as chair! I asked my partner Louis Philippe to write me a short text saying I was pleased to be chair.


User-centric future

I’m very pleased to be here at this point in Copibec’s history.

The current management team is very focused on users.

The think the best is yet to come, despite the huge black cloud of the Copyright Act update that hasn’t budged.