Musagetes was founded by Michael Barnstijn and Louise MacCallum as a manifestation of their belief in the transformative potential of the arts. Michael, a former Research in Motion executive, and Louise, a former RIM software engineer, involved four other founders in defining their vision for Musagetes: Joy Roberts, Doug McMullen, Yeti Agnew and Valerie Hall.

Musagetes was launched in Montreal in January 2007 with the release of our Manifesto. Since then our International Advisory Council, Board of Directors and staff have been hosting cafés, building networks and developing programs. Now, in 2011, we are reflecting on what we have learned and setting our course for the next five years. We overwhelmingly agree that the Manifesto continues to be the touchstone for Musagetes’ development — a touchstone that both captures an historical moment and requires from us intermittent supplementary statements, like this one.

The Manifesto had an immediate impact in Montreal, not just on those who were directly involved, but on many others who encountered it online, via social media and by word-of-mouth. Some discovered it at a moment when inspiration and enrichment were most needed. For others it touched a chord in their search for meaning in a confusing world.

With the financial crisis of 2008 and the questioning of contemporary global capitalism, the Manifesto has only become more meaningful. There is now more malaise—and more opportunity—than ever, moving individuals and organizations to search for measurements of success beyond the GDP.  When the faultlines of society threaten an already precarious world, when the political landscape on so many continents abounds with cynicism, at such times of personal alienation and global malaise we believe that art answers and liberates. There is a greater need than ever for the joy, the delight, the surprise and the power of the arts to lead in radically transforming society.