Today is the beginning of “MainFest”, a 3 day “street fair” on St. Laurent Boulevard, or “The Main” Historic site. The boulevard will be completely closed to traffic and is expected to receive an estimated 300 000 visitors. According to The Société de développement du boulevard Saint-Laurent (SDBSL), organizers of “MainFest” and other “street fairs”:
“With summer on the way, everyone’s invited to come to Saint-Laurent Boulevard and check out the action. MainFest is the perfect occasion for the public to enjoy Saint-Laurent Boulevard‘s great terrasses and discover the hot new summer trends in fashion, decor and music. It’s time to put those tuques and boots away for the season and revel in the warm weather! MainFest will be serving up a fabulous cocktail of beauty, fitness, sports, and music sessions that will appeal to all our visitors.”
Known for its capitalist approach and corporate connections, the SDBSL even promotes “guerrilla marketing” in the historic site where, according to the Canadian government at least, “intrusive elements must be minimal“. In the past the SDBSL has sold out the historic site to corporate interests on many occasions, including to unethical sponsors such as PartyPoker.Net, which prompted local citizens, heritage activists and culture-jammers to launch a campaign to Reclaim The Main!
Culture wars on the street are starting to heat up, and as the “MainFest” sets up shop, signs of corporate interference are already all over the place.
This beer company/sponsor, which has a mobile “DJ Booth” has co-opted anarchist colours (black and red) and revolutionary imagery to sell its brand of suds. Furthermore, a security force including private guards and police officers is enforcing “rules” in the corporate zone, while not actually following them themselves. For example, cycling is apparently prohibited.
However, this regulation did not stop police officers from zipping through the crowd on their bikes, even blowing red lights, all the while warning others to dismount their bikes or face a ticket.
Faced with such hipocrisy, on the other side of the equation activists are working with culture-jammers on a movie documenting the corporate takeover of the historic site. Guerrilla Video Productions, Optative Theatrical Laboratories, and others are demanding change and inviting resisters to participate and Reclaim the Main. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
The next street “event” organized by the SDBSL is called “Club Main”, and runs June 18â€“21, 2009:
“We can’t bring Saint-Laurent to the beach, so we’re bringing the beach to Saint-Laurent! Everyone is invited to join the fun at Club Main, Montreal‘s one-of-a-kind urban beach, where partying is the name of the game. No need to travel halfway round the world to soak up that holiday atmosphere. It will all be right here! Visitors will be able to stroll around, laze in the sun or underneath a palm tree, enjoy beach sports, volleyball, and Wake dans’rue, watch the performers, and in the evening, party under the stars!”
While corporate sponsorship deals have not been announced yet, the closure of “The Main” coincides with the opening of the Montreal infringement festival.
One act that is sure to participate in culture-jamming the corporate spam is the ninth edition of Montreal‘s “longest-running theatre experiment”, Car Stories. Optative Theatrical Laboratories is seeking volunteers to participate and get involved. The show runs from June 19 â€“ 21 during the street closure, and is open to all interested players. Interested players will bring it to the fifth annual Buffalo infringement festival in late July. The next meeting is Tuesday June 2 at 6pm at the Bifteck (3702 St. Laurent). All are welcome!
So get on down to “The Main” and witness the corporate SDBSL events theatrically clashing with heritage activism, concerned citizens, culture-jammers, and those demanding the protection of the historic site. Better yet, join in the action and help usher in a new era where people take precedence over corporations!