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Coronavirus pandemic forces cancellation of 2020 Saskatoon Fringe Festival

The executive director of 25th Street Theatre hopes construction won't affect the fringe festival location, but he says there will be a backup plan.
The executive director of the 25th Street Theatre says the 2020 Saskatoon Fringe Festival is cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. File / Global News

A summertime staple on Saskatoon’s Broadway Avenue will not take place this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The 25th Street Theatre board of directors announced on Tuesday that it had voted in favour of cancelling the 2020 Saskatoon Fringe Festival because of the impact of COVID-19.

The festival was scheduled to run from July 30 to Aug. 8.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Saskatoon playwright says empty theatres a chance to reflect on art’s future

The executive director of the festival, Anita Smith, said the decision was not made lightly. Other members of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals who have cancelled their scheduled festivals include Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Regina and Edmonton.

“With many other Fringe Festivals also cancelling their programming, and considering the unique nature of the Fringe Festival circuit requiring artists to travel across the country, the continent and the world, the board agreed that this was the responsible decision to make at this time,” she said in a press release.

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“We are aware of the impact that this cancellation will have not only on our community but on the theatre artists who rely on the festival to generate income.”

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All theatre artists and food vendors who were scheduled to participate this summer will be given the option to defer their space to the 2021 festival or receive a full refund of their registration fee.

Smith said the festival paid out roughly $125,000 in ticket sales to its theatre artists in 2019.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Early summer festivals in Saskatoon up in the air

The 25th Street Theatre said it hopes to continue engaging the community through art by connecting the community to local theatre artists through the creation of digital content and online programs.

It added that this type of programming will be dependent on the organization’s ability to qualify for the various wage subsidy programs that have been announced by the federal and provincial governments.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.