Most Innovative Meetings 2019: #3 C2 Montréal

The conference’s new venue inspired some clever formatting changes.

One of the first C2 Village experiences guests encountered was goat yoga.
One of the first C2 Village experiences guests encountered was goat yoga.
Photo: Agnieszka Stalkoper

The Barometer lab invited attendees to literally take a stand on business, social, and cultural issues by discussing topics on a screen that corresponded to the color block where they stood.The Barometer lab invited attendees to literally take a stand on business, social, and cultural issues by discussing topics on a screen that corresponded to the color block where they stood.Photo: Agnieszka StalkoperC2 Montréal is in a state of reinvention. For the eighth edition of the international business conference, which drew 7,000 people in May, this was most apparent with the introduction of a new main venue.

C2 2019 was held at Grandé Studios, a 200,000-square-foot studio space that was once Canada’s largest train repair shop. The new home provided double the space of its former location and featured 60-foot ceilings, an abundance of natural light, and a variety of layouts for three speaker stages and multiple brainstorming and networking experiences.

The new venue also set the tone for the conference’s 2019 theme of “Tomorrow.” C2 chief creative officer Genifere Legrand wanted the theme to serve as a call to action, stressing the fact that “tomorrow is right now”—and that people can make an impact on the future by taking action today.

For off-stage experiences, the new venue provided an opportunity for the conference to deliver new and reinterpreted labs—the conference’s signature brainstorming environments—as well as reworked networking areas and creative, Instagram-worthy meeting spaces. “The size of the venue influenced the way we built the program,” said Legrand. “But we always play with the same elements that are part of C2’s DNA. It’s all interlinked.”The Agora space provided one of the event’s main stages: a hexagonal, 360-degree stage covered in sand, a nod to the conference’s commitment to sustainability.The Agora space provided one of the event’s main stages: a hexagonal, 360-degree stage covered in sand, a nod to the conference’s commitment to sustainability.Photo: Agnieszka Stalkoper

The site plan allowed for Legrand and her team to plan for one main stage (Forum-Solotech), a smaller, more intimate stage (Cabaret-Quebec), and a stage that also doubled as a public space for connection, called the Agora. The Agora not only held talks and performances, but provided a more open environment for attendees to have “braindates,” the networking platform created by technology company E180.

Performance troupe the Spirits appeared from the ceiling dressed in 19th-century industrial attire.Performance troupe the Spirits appeared from the ceiling dressed in 19th-century industrial attire.Photo: Agnieszka StalkoperGrandé Studios also allowed for attendees to experience the C2 Village, the conference’s outdoor plaza, as soon as they entered. The casual atmosphere offered everything from notebook-making and local food trucks to a pop-up Nespresso café and goat yoga. The plaza also featured the returning Cabana bar, serving as a central point for attendees looking to mix and mingle.

One of the most theatrical moments, however, came from the ceiling. To pay homage to the venue’s history, the conference tapped a group of aerial artists to perform acrobatics and music while wearing 19th-century-inspired industrial costumes. Legrand said the idea was for the artists to represent spirits who lived in the venue.

C2, which stands for commerce and creativity, was launched by creative agency Sid Lee in collaboration with founding partner Cirque du Soleil.

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