Born in Québec City, Bernard Gilbert has been working in the artistic and cultural fields for more than forty years. Starting out as a journalist, he collaborated on a regular basis with Radio-Canada’s radio network. After many years as a volunteer producer, he became the general manager of the community radio station CKRL FM (1985–87). In 1989, he took on the role of general manager of Théâtre Périscope before founding the Carrefour International de Théâtre de Québec in 1991—a major festival that he directed until 1998. Since then, he has been a noted contributor to several major events: Printemps du Québec in France (1999), Centennial of the Québec Symphony Orchestra (2003), programmer for the Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara (Mexico, 2003), Canadian Guest of Honor—Frankfurt Book Fair (2020). As a consultant, he has conducted many studies and mandates for arts organizations and institutions in Quebec and Canada.
From 2003 to 2006, first as a consultant and later as the director of Espace 400ième, he contributed significantly to the planning of Quebec City’s 400th anniversary. With Pôles Magnétiques, art et culture, he was the production manager for Ex Machina’s opera productions directed by Robert Lepage from 2004 until 2013, presenting works in major opera houses in Europe and North America, including the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden, London), Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie (Brussels), the Metropolitan Opera (New York), Teatro alla Scala (Milan), Festival Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence, Canadian Opera Company (Toronto), and Festival d’Opéra de Québec (Quebec City).
From 2013 to 2017, he worked for the Institut Canadien de Québec as Director for the Québec en Toutes Lettres Festival and the Maison de la Littérature. The latter—a new venue devoted to literature—opened to great acclaim in 2015. In 2017, he became the general manager of the Diamant, a project initiated by Robert Lepage. The Diamant, a performing arts presenter, will open in Quebec City in 2019.
Bernard Gilbert has published three novels, including his latest, Pygmalion tatoué (2016, Druide); two poetry collections; and two albums on Quebec City with photographer Claudel Huot. He has also published three documentary essays on the operas produced by Ex Machina, including Le Ring de Robert Lepage, une aventure scénique au Metropolitan Opera (2013, L’instant même). Chantiers d’écriture scénique, written with Patrick Caux, was translated into English and published under the title Creating for the Stage (2009, Talonbooks).
2016 – Laureate, François-Samson Cultural Development Award, awarded by the Conseil de la Culture de la Région de Québec et de Chaudière–Appalaches.
– Laureate of Quebec Le Soleil-Radio-Canada.
– Finalist, Prix Opus – Book of the Year, for Le Ring de Robert Lepage, une aventure scénique au Metropolitan Opera, documentary essay, L’Instant même.
2011 – Finalist, Arthur Ellis Award—Best Crime Novel Published in French in Canada, for Quand la mort s’invite à la première, novel, Éditions Québec Amérique.
2008 – Finalist, Quebec Library Subscribers Award, for Ex Machina, Chantiers d’écriture scénique, written with Patrick Caux, Éditions Septentrion/L’Instant scène.
1998 – Finalist, Cultural Development Award, awarded by the Conseil de la Culture de la Région de Québec et de Chaudière–Appalaches.
1995 – Finalist, Desjardins Literary Award—poetry, for Opéra, fiction, Éditions du Noroît.
Bernard owes his career in the arts to literature. He wrote his first poems in Cégep, and he studied French Literature at Laval University—all while working in bookstores. He spent his spare time reading multiple books a week, focusing on 20th-century Quebecois work (literature, poetry, surrealism, etc.). All the while, he was developing a passion for music of all types—classical and contemporary work, jazz, world music, French chansons, and opera.
Bernard discovered artistic administration almost by chance when CKRL, a local community radio station, was in urgent need of administrators. Administration has played a key role in his career ever since, even if he continues to write. After a few publications in the 1980s (poetry collections and an essay on Quebec), he came back to publishing with three books back to back in May 1994, including his first novel, CQFD, and the poetic story Opéra. After taking an almost-fifteen-year break, he started publishing again in 2007. Alternating between documentary essays on the work of Robert Lepage and novels, he has not stopped since and plans to publish his next work in 2019 or 2020.
Using his administrative talents while keeping his creativity flowing is the ideal artistic balance for Bernard Gilbert.