Revisioning Value


I pay. I go. I have an experience but I’m consuming.
I think that’s what it feels like. It feels like consumption. Am I having a dialogue in those moments? Am I having a connection?
I find those experiences…kind of empty.
-Micheline Chevrier, Artistic and Executive Director of Imago Theatre and founder of Imago’s Pay-What-You-Decide initiative

I sat down with award-winning Director and the Artistic and Executive Director Micheline Chevrier to talk about why it is important to revision the value=money equation.

“I just don’t like when people say, well if it’s free then is it worth anything? That  upsets me. Because some things that are free are worth a tremendous amount… using a financial evaluation to describe worth, that’s something that I wanted to get rid of…”

“I really struggle when I do grant reporting or grant requesting, when I’m talking to corporations or  to private donors….they’re always asking about the numbers…and that’s not the value we (Imago Theatre) have. This is the problem, having to quantify. Having to quantify what you we’re doing instead of being qualitative.”

Capitalism is a system that assigns a number and a dollar sign to almost every interaction we have in our lives. In a world where meaning is measured in assets and acquisitions, how do we begin to revision our definition of what it is to have a valuable exchange?

“What else can you give someone other than money or a thing?

…respect (respect of freedom, expression, context and point of view)
…a stake in what they’re participating in

Imago started the Pay-What-You-Decide initiative in 2015 as a way of increasing access to theatre. The idea with Pay-What-You-Decide was that every person, no matter their financial means, could experience art and participate in meaningful conversation and dialogue.

I think everyone should be able to access the necessities and that art should be counted as a  necessity…if we have this incredible need to share then we have to make that accessible because the whole point is to make sure that someone can participate and receive in the sharing..”

It is 2017 and Pay-What-You-Decide has become a huge part of our ethos at Imago.You can read more about it here. While it is not always easy to ensure the sustainability of this philosophy, we are working hard to keep the initiative going!

“Can you really equate the worth of the work to numbers? I don’t think you can.”

As Sophie and I were brainstorming on our Revision to Resist Blog Series we thought of many spheres of life that have been enhanced and empowered by women’s revisioning (cities, genres/archetypes, language, Canada, economics, literature, leadership… the list goes on). Throughout the month of October we will be reaching out to ask inspiring women about why it is important to revision systems, institutions, ideas, theories, histories and knowledge that exist in Montrealer and Canadians’ lives.

“Box office numbers are a guessing game…and so we want to remove the guessing and allow for whatever happens to happen. Counting on a fictional number feels like lunacy..can we link box office revenue back into an investment in the art, as opposed to counting on it and using it as a measure of success?”

Thank you to Micheline Chevrier for her insight on Revisioning Value.

Note: If you are wanting to support the Pay-What-You-Decide initiative you can purchase a ticket for the festival online here or by calling 514-288-3161 or you can Donate to Pay-What-You-Decide on Canada Helps here.

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