The Shaw Festival is cancelling all performances and public events until May 1.
It is also shutting down all “on-site non-essential business operations,” including rehearsals, and its box office, with the plan of resuming those operations on April 6.
Following “a very difficult few days,” talks on Monday, which included colleagues at other theatres and community partners, led to the difficult decision, says executive director Tim Jennings.
Dropping the first 33 performances from the season will have economic consequences not only on the festival, but the community. “For every $1 we don’t make,” Jennings says, the region loses $7 to $10.
Jennings likened the difficult decision to “juggling a hand grenade,” one that comes on the heels of an announcement of a successful 2019, with a 13 per cent increase in operating revenue, and a surplus of of more than $500,000.
Actors who would be in rehearsal now and the support staff who won’t be working will be paid until April 6, he said.
Jennings said the Shaw will “continue to monitor the situation to see if additional cancellations and closures are required, based on the recommendations of the public health units of the region, province and country.” The next decision will likely be made early in April.
“Your health and safety, and that of our community, our artists and our staff is our top priority. We feel that cancelling performances and drastically reducing business operations is the only responsible decision at this time,” says Monday’s press release from the Shaw.
Jennings says at this point he is not considering extending the regular season, with the holiday plays the Shaw is planning leaving little room for extra performances.
The three plays that have been affected are Charley’s Aunt, Gypsy and Prince Caspian.
Ticket-holders to the affected performances will have the choice of rescheduling, getting a refund, or considering the ticket cost a donation, says Jennings, adding “we’re really hoping they’ll come.”
Ticket-holders will be contacted by staff once the box office re-opens. For further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We have an incredible team here who have been cooking up some wonderful theatre. Of course it is frustrating to have to put that on hold, but if our aim is to create a more human, more connected theatre, then our first priority has to be keeping everyone safe,” says artists director Tim Carroll in the press release. “I know our amazing audience will understand and support us, and we send everyone our love and good thoughts. Please stay safe and well; we will get through this together.”
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