Radio-Canada costume department gets new lease on life with creation of Le Grand Costumier social enterprise

December 14, 2015, Montreal

Radio-Canada’s costume department will get a new lease on life in the form of a social enterprise called Le Grand Costumier, created at the initiative of two non-profit organizations, the CDEC Centre-Sud / Plateau Mont-Royal (now known as PME MTL Centre-Ville) and Culture Montréal, as well as a group of independent producers (KOTV, Fair-Play, Salvail et Co). Supported by the Quebec government and City of Montreal, the Grand Costumier will work to maintain and expand the existing costume collection donated free of charge by Radio-Canada, while managing it on behalf of the local creative community.

“My government is pleased to contribute to the long-term survival of this priceless collection of costumes and accessories. As a result, a large part of Quebec’s homegrown costume production and design talent will be showcased and continue to benefit the artistic community,” said Hélène David, Quebec’s Minister of Culture and Communications and the Minister responsible for the Protection and Promotion of the French Language.

“The Grand Costumier is a big plus in helping develop and promote Montreal as a cultural metropolis. Our government is proud to support this strategic initiative, which allows the city to strengthen a key economic sector – Quebec’s TV, film and theatre production industry,” said Robert Poëti, Minister of Transport and Minister responsible for the Montreal region.

“With its 70,000 costumes, 20,000 accessories and countless cultural artifacts, the Radio-Canada costume department is one of the largest of its kind in North America,” said Luc Rabouin, director of social economy and employability at PME Montréal Centre-Ville. “We decided to leverage the incredible wealth of this collection and developed a social business model to meet the cultural industry’s needs. The Grand Costumier will rent out costumes, continue to build the collection, and promote the work done by costume designers, wardrobe keepers and dressers. It will be a financially viable operation that gives back to the community – a shining example of what the social economy is all about.”

“Following the agreement reached in spring 2015 with Musées de la civilisation de Québec, which allowed Radio-Canada to achieve its goal of preserving and showcasing 143 heritage costumes, today’s agreement with the Grand Costumier allows us to achieve our other goal for the costume department,” said Louis Lalande, executive vice-president of CBC/Radio-Canada French Services. “We can now ensure the long-term preservation of the thousands of costumes and accessories that Radio-Canada will transfer at no charge to the new social enterprise. I’m confident that the Grand Costumier will breathe new life into this impressive collection amassed over the past 60 years, for the benefit of the entire creative industry.”

“The Grand Costumier will serve all local TV, film and theatre productions,” added Ginette Petit, chair of the Grand Costumier’s board of directors. “We intend to do more than simply maintain the Radio-Canada costume department’s existing collection. We also want to build on it and develop new market niches that will support the organization’s financial viability and promote the city of Montreal. Among other things, we’ll be exploring opportunities in the burgeoning international film location industry.”

Key support from the City of Montreal and government of Quebec
The Grand Costumier will be located in the Gaston-Miron building, a heritage site and cultural hub. The City of Montreal played a key role by helping the Grand Costumer with its move, paying to retrofit the historic building, and charging the organization a preferential rent. “The Gaston-Miron building is the ideal place to house the Grand Costumier,” said Manon Gauthier, a member of the City of Montreal’s Executive Committee. “Strategically located in the downtown core, it already houses the Conseil des arts de Montréal and the Conseil du patrimoine, in addition to renting out a number of rehearsal studios. The space had been vacant for seven years, following the closing of the central library. We’re delighted to give this outstanding architectural site a new lease on life and support the mission of an organization that promotes the assets of one of North America’s largest costume collections.”

The Grand Costumier also receives valuable assistance from the Quebec government. The Ministère de la Culture et des Communications contributed $100,000, as part of the digital component of the Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal, to label the collection and produce an interactive catalogue needed to administer and promote it. The Secrétariat à la région métropolitaine also provided $100,000 in seed funding to the new organization from the Fonds d’initiative et de rayonnement de la métropole (FIRM).

With Radio-Canada’s support, the collection will be moved into the new facility over the winter, with the official opening scheduled for April 2016.

About PME MTL Centre-Ville
PME MTL was created following the restructuring of the business support network previously run by Montreal’s CLDs and CDECs. The PME MTL network offers a full range of professional services for private-sector and social economy entrepreneurs on the Island of Montreal. From startup to growth, PME MTL professionals are there to advise and support project initiators and project managers at every step along the way. PME MTL Centre-Ville is one of the six organizations that make up the PME MTL network and serves the Plateau-Mont-Royal, Ville-Marie, Côte-des-Neiges/Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Outremont and City of Westmount boroughs.


Valérie Gonzalo, Annexe Communications, Tel. 514-626-6976

Ingrid Foster, Annexe Communications, Tel. 514-844-8864, ext. 115

Sources: PME MTL Centre-Ville

Philip Proulx
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Culture and
Communications and Minister responsible for the Protection and Promotion of the French Language
Telephone: 418 380-2310

Anne-Catherine Couture
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Transport and Minister responsible for the Montreal region
Telephone: 418-643-6980

Andrée-Anne Toussaint
Press Secretary
Office of the Mayor and Executive Committee
Telephone: 514-243-1268

Marc Pichette
Director, Public Relations, Promotions and Partnerships
Telephone: 514-597-4342

About CBC/Radio-Canada

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