Stéphan La Roche
Collecting. Humans have always (since Neanderthal times, in fact) had the desire to surround themselves with beauty and meaningful objects, for both reflection and pleasure. From sheaves of papyrus to curiosity cabinets and classic collections of portraits or contemporary art, we want to live surrounded by “things that have meaning.”
This idea is obvious for an organization like the one I direct, whose mandate is to conserve and display collections representative of our civilization; but it is just as natural for everyone. Each of us, in fact, has a legitimate, even essential, need to better understand the slightly crazy world in which we live, and sometimes even the need to protect or distance ourselves from it for a while by turning to the subterfuge of art.
Art addresses both our intellect and our emotions, our senses and our intuitions. Art is the exclusive domain of humans, testifying to the evolution of society, and advancing the world. In the words of Fernand Dumont, “It is through culture that humanity extricates itself from the monotonous repetition to which the animal condition is devoted, that it becomes inscribed in a history through which its actions lead to an accumulation of artworks and an overview of the future.”
Esse magazine’s annual benefit auction once again gives us an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. By purchasing one of the artworks offered for our consideration, we fulfil our fundamental need, while supporting Les éditions esse, which plays the important role of presenting us with contemporary art in its relationship with the society from which it emerges.
How can we resist? Let art add a little more soul to our existence. Let it give more meaning to our lives.
A lawyer by training and a cultural manager, Stéphan La Roche is extremely knowledgeable about arts and literature and about issues related to their development and dissemination. In his various mandates, he has been involved with all cultural sectors. Before being appointed executive director of the Musées de la civilisation en 2015, he was CEO of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) from April 2013 to October 2015; since 2008, he had been director of music and dance within this Crown corporation, where he also acted as director of territorial activity from 2009 to 2011, coordinating all international activities and regional interventions. He had previously worked at CALQ as council secretary and director of planning and coordination from 1997 to 1998.
Previously, Mr. La Roche was executive director of the Québec City bureau of the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles du Québec (SODEC). He was associated with the relaunch of the Palais Montcalm de Québec first as project manager responsible for planning, development, and implementation of the maison de la musique concept, then as executive director of the new Palais Montcalm. He was also director of cultural services at the Délégation générale du Québec à Paris, from 2001 to 2004. As assistant chief of staff at the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, he coordinated development and writing of the policy for dissemination of theatre arts, Remettre l’art au monde, in 1996.