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Live theatre, concerts organizations urge clarity from Ontario on reopening

Click to play video: 'Peterborough arts venues staying afloat as they wait to welcome back guests' Peterborough arts venues staying afloat as they wait to welcome back guests
WATCH ABOVE: Peterborough arts venues staying afloat as they wait to welcome back guests. Katrina Squazzin reports. – Jun 16, 2021

TORONTO —  Advocates for Ontario’s live music and performing arts industries say a lack of transparency around reopening the province is putting their futures at risk.

Provincial and municipal leaders, including Toronto Mayor John Tory, met virtually with lobbyists for the arts and culture sector to hear their concerns over an unclear roadmap for reopening in the third step of the pandemic recovery and beyond.

The resounding message was that arts industries that hope to welcome live audiences back into venues need more than a week’s notice from health authorities as they struggle to book musical acts and plan live stage shows.

Read more: Here’s what Step 2 of Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening road map means for outdoor live events, films

On Thursday, the province dropped details on moving into Step 2 six days before it takes effect.

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“Come From Away” actor Ali Momen, speaking on behalf of the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, says such short notice is “crippling our hard-hit sector further by crushing our ability to prudently plan.”

He says theatre companies “have received little indication” of what reopening may look like in Ontario later this year.

Jesse Kumagai, chair of the Canadian Live Music Association, told leaders that reaching full capacity at concert venues after Step 3 is “something we believe we can and should be able to do” if taking the lead from other regions that are “more advanced” in the return to live events.

Read more: Ontario to officially move into Step 2 of reopening plan on June 30

The second stage of reopening was originally slated to begin July 2, but the province moved the plan forward two days, saying COVID-19 vaccination targets have been met.

More than 76 per cent of adults in Ontario have received one vaccine dose, while 29 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses, meaning the province has already met further targets to enter the third step of its reopening plan.

However, provincial health officials say they don’t intend to move into the next stage until “approximately 21 days” after the start of the second step.

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