Montreal 2023

22 – 26 May | Co-hosted by Partenariat du Quartier des spectacles


GCDN is meeting from 22 to 26 May, 2023. The ninth edition of the convening is an invitation to return to Montreal – where we held one of the very first meetings of the network. Hosted by GCDN members Partenariat du Quartier des spectacles, the convening builds upon our understanding of the multi-layered and far-reaching value of cultural districts to explore their potential as civic sites dedicated to arts, culture and creativity for transformational change in urban life. There is a lot to discuss following our meeting in Lugano and we have expanded the event to provide members and guests even more opportunities to learn from each other and from expert counsel. Themes and sessions include:

  • New trends of globalization
  • Equitable leadership in the arts and culture
  • Cultural tourism in the 2020’s
  • Centering the Indigenous experience
  • Public art and the identity of place
  • Impact measurement and reporting strategies
  • Safety and security in public spaces
  • Governance and business models for cultural districts
  • The future of downtown
  • And more… 

The program also includes workshops and focus sessions to allow members and guests to discover valuable tools and models, as well as to learn from each other’s practices. The convening also features social events, site visits, and is bookended by an opening evening reception and a day of optional tours to allow for comfortable arrival/departure and more time to explore Montreal.

The Montreal 2023 convening supports GCDN’s commitment to make an authentic contribution to addressing the most challenging issues of the day. We are still living in a time of social, economic, environmental, and political flux. The state of the world makes it ever more important to go beyond the rhetoric and refine our understanding of the resources and appetite required to achieve meaningful change; and for cultural districts to contribute to the transition to a greener, more inclusive, and more resilient tomorrow. 

GCDN is an initiative of AEA Consulting. Find out more about GCDN here and please contact us if you have any questions.

All information on this webpage is subject to change – last updated on 21 March 2023.


GCDN Membership provides free registration to the convening for two representatives – and a 25% discount on any additional registration. Please contact us if you require the code to book your complimentary/discounted tickets as members of the network.

If your organisation is a not-for-profit, you may acquire a discounted registration.


Confirmed speakers include:

Ilana Altman, Co-Executive Director, The Bentway – Toronto, Canada

Manal Ataya, Director General, Sharjah Museums Authority – Sharjah, UAE

Tairone Bastien, Curator – A Feral Commons, Alserkal – Toronto, Canada

Rami Bebawi, Partner and cofounder, KANVA – Montreal, Canada

Chenine Bhathena, former Creative Director, Coventry City of Culture Trust – Coventry, UK

Simon Brault, President, Canada Council for the Arts – Ottawa, Canada

Jason Bruges, Artist, Jason Bruges Studio – London, UK

Christos Carras, Founding Director, Carras Consulting – Athens, Greece

Owen Craven, Managing Principal, Senior Curator, UAP – Brisbane, Australia

Rosie Dow, Programmes and Engagement Manager, Social Biobehavioural Research Group, UCL – London, UK

André Dudemaine, Directeur Artistique, Présence autochtone – Montreal, Canada

Adrian Ellis, Chair, GCDN & Director, AEA Consulting – Doglio, Italy

Betty Fung, CEO, West Kowloon Cultural Districts Authority – Hong Kong

Laia Gasch, Director, World Cities Culture Forum – London, UK

Gilbert Guaring, Global Head of Marketing, Sustainability and Engagement, UAP – New York City, USA

Linda C. Harrison, Director & CEO, Newark Museum of Art – Newark, USA

Kendra Ingram, CEO, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust – Pittsburgh, USA

Daniel Iregui, Artist, Studio Iregular – Montreal, Canada

Vilma Jurkute, Director, Alserkal – Dubai, UAE

Helen Kearney, Researcher – London, UK

Hilary Knight, Senior Consultant, AEA Consulting – London, UK

Anne Lagacé, Artist – Montreal, Canada

Jia-Ping Lee, Director, Pollin8 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Linda Soklich, Director, Strategy & Planning Management, Arts Centre Melbourne – Melbourne, Australia

Marcus Tebogo Desando, Director, Prince Claus Fund – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Angelita Teo, Director, Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage – Lausanne, Switzerland

Mark Thorman, Director of the Landscape Workshop, WHY – New York City, USA

Ana Traverso-Krejcarek, Managing Director, High Line Network – New York City, USA

Catherine Vallières-Roland, Deputy Mayor, City of Quebec – Quebec City, Canada

Natalia Vartapetova, Senior Consultant, AEA Consulting – London, UK

Maria Wong, Managing Director, HKWalls – Hong Kong

Shelley Worrell, Founder, Little Caribbean – New York City, USA

Kady Yellow, Senior Director of Placemaking, Jacksonville – Jacksonville, USA


And even more speakers confirmed soon!

Venues and map

These are the main convening venues. Please refer to the map below for additional places of interest and directions.

Double Tree by Hilton: Days 1 & 2 + Hosted Dinner venue
Société des Arts Technologiques: Day 0 venue
Place des Arts: Day 3 venue

Structure & Timetable

The GCDN Annual Convening – Montreal 2023 has the following structure:

  • Mon, May 22: Arrival day & opening reception
  • Tue, May 23: Convening
  • Wed, May 24: Convening
  • Thu, May 25: Convening: bonus day open to local stakeholders
  • Fri, May 26: Departure day & optional tours

Please find a visual timetable with session titles below.


To avoid printing, the programme of the GCDN 2022 convening is hosted on the platform Sched. Click on the button below to access the full programme.

Only registered attendees can access the full program. You should receive information to create your account on Sched after registering.

We encourage registered attendees to create a profile on Sched to access the full programme, sign up for break out sessions, and interact with other participants before, during and after the event.

The convening programme is also available on the Sched app for iPhone and Android. Use the buttons below to download the app for your smartphone.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any question about the schedule or if you encounter any issue navigating Sched on your browser or phone.

You may also watch these tutorial videos to familiarize yourself with Sched’s features:



Event Sponsor


Registered convening attendees have access to special rates (CA$250/night) at:

: DoubleTree by Hilton Montreal

The DoubleTree by Hilton is also where the convening program on 23-24 May will take place – and is under 10min walk away from all the other venues.

You will receive a special link to book your stay with the registration confirmation email. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding accommodation.


Recommended travel dates: to enjoy the experience of the convening to the fullest, GCDN recommends planning to arrive in Montreal by mid-afternoon on 22 May and leave in the evening of 25 May or on 26 May.

Recommended itinerary (air travel): land at Montreal Trudeau International Airport (YUL) and then take a taxi to the hotel.

Visas: Please visit this webpage to check entry requirements for your country of origin. If your country of origin requires a visa to enter Canada, we recommend starting the process as soon as possible. For attendees coming from visa-free countries, you will have to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to board a flight to Canada.

Covid-19: please refer to this official local government webpage for current information on the situation in Montreal and any Covid-19 related entry requirements/restrictions.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for advice on travel plans.