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Jun. 18, 2021 | Friday
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Shaw urges supporters to lobby politicians to reopen live theatre
File photo/Shaw Festival

Stephanie Beattie
Special to The Lake Report

The Shaw Festival has joined an aggressive provincewide campaign that is asking the public to demand the reopening of live theatre in Ontario.

As part of the #FairnessForArtsON campaign, a statement this week from the Shaw urges people to send letters to the premier, government ministers, MPPs, municipal leaders and other representatives.

“The decisions and changes made in the next few days will determine the fate of our stages for the next year,” the Niagara-on-the-Lake theatre company said.

“If we are treated with parity to equivalent peer sectors, we can look forward to a summer of outdoor performance and a robust theatre season next year,” the statement said.

The Canadian Live Music Association, which is spearheading the campaign, said it is “asking for fairness and action in supporting the live performing arts.”

The Shaw also encourages people to amplify their support on social media with the #FairnessForArtsON hashtag and to tag politicians so they will see it.

“If we are denied equitable reopening, our stages will remain dark and our artists will remain out of work for many months to come,” the theatre said in its message to subscribers and supporters.

“We are not asking for special treatment – only to be afforded the same reopening terms that equivalent peer industries have been given already,” the statement said.

Shaw Festival executive director Tim Jennings was not available for comment.

The campaign began on Monday in response to Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen plan.

The Ontario government announced its three-step plan for reopening on May 20, leaving performing arts communities at risk of more cancellations.

“The government’s recently announced Roadmap to Reopening only offers a dead-end to the performing arts at a time when we are perhaps needed most,” the Shaw statement said.

Last year, the festival cancelled most of its shows due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The festival’s 2020 annual report said the Shaw gave 65 live performances with 2,460 attendees and eight digital performances with 76,671 viewers.

The Shaw has already cancelled shows up to July, when it hopes to stage some outdoor performances. In February, it cancelled the 2021 production of “Gypsy: A Musical Fable” due to pandemic restrictions.