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Rebuilding Upon More Sustainable and Equitable Foundations

Chronicle of a pandemic and the performing arts

Ghost light at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre.
One of many civic theatres that were not eligible for CEWS throughout the pandemic, the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre’s ghost light will likely remain on for a while. Photo Credit: Ashley Foot.

Throughout the COVID crisis, many suggested that this is an opportunity for the arts sector to embrace new practices and policies. This is the underlying invitation behind the department of Canadian Heritage’s recovery framework consultation, for which CAPACOA prepared a written submission.

How can the live performance sector recover from the COVID crisis and at the same time, foster innovation, resilience, sustainability and equity? It seems like a pretty big order for a sector that was decimated by months of restrictions on live events. CAPACOA, with support from members of its advocacy committee, nonetheless attempted to provide bits of answers to these questions.

CAPACOA’s written submission takes a supply-and-demand lens to examine the business models for live and online presentation of the performing arts.

Whether online or in-the-flesh, the performing arts supply faces similar challenges in connecting with the demand – in being ‘discovered’ by the right audiences. In the era of algorithmic recommendation, this discoverability issue requires an additional paradigm shift. 

Touring will remain an effective means of enhancing productivity in the performing arts: a means of presenting more performances out of existing productions, and in more communities. Such touring activities require agents and managers, as well as presenting organizations and festivals rooted in their local community. These are the stakeholders whose primary role is to connect the supply with the demand.

The submission invites the sector to take stock of who is on our stages, in board rooms, and in higher management positions. Are Black, Indigenous people and People of Colour given a fair chance to participate in our sector?

CAPACOA’s submission, however, also invites the Department of Canadian to acknowledge the stark reality. The live performance sector has been devastated by restrictions on gatherings.

The GDP for the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sector in June 2020 was 59.0% lower in June than in February 2020. This is the sharpest drop of all sectors, even Accommodation and food services (-45,4%).

Statistics Canada, Table 36-10-0434-01 Gross domestic product (GDP) at basic prices, by industry, monthly (x 1,000,000).

What are your thoughts? Where should recovery efforts focus? And how can we rebuild upon more sustainable and equitable foundations?

Let us know. Post a comment. Or join our next town hall.

Read the written submission

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