Quebec artists ‘implore’ premier to reopen theatres, other venues after cinemas get green light

In Quebec, those who work at theatres or other venues are hoping the government will consider reopening the arts and cultural sector after cinemas were given the green light to reopen for spring break. Getty Images

In Quebec, associations of artists, creators and musicians are demanding the reopening of theatres and other halls after it was revealed the public health department recommended doing so in written opinions to the provincial government about COVID-19 restrictions.

“Now that it is clear that public health is in favour of opening of theatres, the curfew should not be a brake on production or artistic distribution,” the statement reads. “The community really needs a clear signal from the government and we implore Mr. (François) Legault to quickly express his intentions regarding the reopening of theatres.”

The performing arts and performing arts sector — which describes itself as “the most affected by the pandemic after being closed to the public for nearly a year” — explains that the longer the reopening is delayed, “the more difficult it will be to meet it.”

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The message is jointly signed by the Fédération Nationale des Communications et de la Culture (FNCC-CSN), the Union des Artistes (UDA), la Guilde des Musiciens et des Musiciennes du Québec (GMMQ) and the Association des Professionnels des Arts de la Scène du Québec (APASQ), among other organizations.

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“The public also has a real need to reconnect with the performing arts and to be able to leave their bubble from time to time,” said Shérane Figaro, co-spokesperson for TRACE, which represents workers in the arts, culture and events sector in Quebec.

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“With the curfew and the ban on indoor gatherings, the population should be encouraged to go to controlled and safe public places such as cultural venues. It’s good for everyone’s morale.”

The president of the UDA, Sophie Prégent, for her part, wonders if “without closing the complete sector, (it would be) possible to open the places and to close them to the room if an outbreak were to occur, like this is the case in most other work or school settings.”

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Popcorn problem: Quebec movie theatres not allowed to sell food and drink – Feb 17, 2021

Last week, Legault justified his decision to reopen cinemas and not theatres by explaining that he wanted to limit lifting restrictions. He said cinemas will keep children busy during the spring break.

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Legault also said that a 10-day period to prepare for reopening was insufficient to allow theatres in designated red zones to resume operations.

“The performing arts community is very diverse,” said Marie-Eve Gagnon, general director of AQAD.

“While some major productions are not yet ready to take place, there are a host of other types of performances that could adapt and be ready for the public quickly.”

The demand comes after previously written recommendations from public health were made public last week. Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of Quebec public health, recommended keeping some theatres and cinemas open in September 2020.

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