What Canadian theatre companies need to survive until re-opening night in 2021 – and beyond

By J Kelly Nestruck

“The federal fall economic update included $181.5-million for the Department of Canadian Heritage and Canada Council to support planning and presentation of COVID-safe events – but there have been no clues yet as to how that money might be broken down or distributed.

Even a now-established program such as the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) needs more clarity – while it has been extended until June, theatres are waiting to hear full details so they can properly plan. “We hope that the government will keep it at 75 per cent for the hardest-hit sectors, including arts and culture,” says Ashlie Corcoran, artistic director of Vancouver’s Arts Club, the largest theatre company in Western Canada.

“We need certainty regarding the continuance of CEWS,” agrees Neptune Theatre general manager Lisa Bugden, who hopes the program might continue in some cases into 2022.

Indeed, all theatre companies want policymakers and private donors to understand the performing arts sector is on a long path to recovery – and that support won’t be needed just until audiences are allowed to return, but until they choose to come back in full force.

“We see a chasm ahead where CEWS and other supports diminish and we are expected to be back to a high level of production and activity, but there continues to be audience restrictions or general hesitancy about attending events,” says Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre executive director Camilla Holland. “This potentially could result in greater financial hardships than we have experienced so far.”

Source: The Globe and Mail