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COVID-19 state of emergency taking 'big hit' on Sudbury arts and culture sector

It's safe to assume most Greater Sudbury arts events planned for the near future are cancelled or postponed
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Sudbury Symphony Orchestra is one of many local arts organizations that are cancelling performances due to COVID-19. (Supplied)

With a state of emergency declared in the province of Ontario Tuesday morning due to COVID-19, it's safe to assume most Greater Sudbury arts events planned for the near future are cancelled or postponed.

Among the Ontario establishments legally required to close as of March 17 are all theatres, concert venues and movie cinemas. All organized public events of more than 50 people are also prohibited.

These orders are in place until March 31, at which point they will be reassessed.

Many arts organizations in Greater Sudbury have now announced COVID-19-related performance and rehearsal cancellations and postponements, including Sudbury Theatre Centre, Theatre Cambrian, Sudbury Symphony Orchestra and Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario.

Check out Sudbury.com's running list of cancellations and closures due to COVID-19 online here.

While cancelling or postponing performances is the responsible thing to do — as well as now being mandated by law — Sudbury Arts Council president Linda Cartier said the situation is definitely disruptive for arts organizations.

Some events may be able to be held at a later date, but in some cases that might be impossible, which will have a financial impact on arts organizations.

Cartier suggests anyone who has a ticket to an upcoming event call the organization putting it on to see about refunds or whether the event will be held at a later date.

And if you want to help out your favourite local arts organization, Cartier suggests you consider not asking for a refund on cancelled performances, instead making the price of the tickets a donation.

Sudbury Symphony Orchestra has cancelled its “Mostly Mozart” concert that was to take place at Laurentian University's Fraser Auditorium March 28.

SSO said it will make a decision about its April 25 “Beethoven's Legacy” concert as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

Reached Tuesday morning, the symphony's music director, Mélanie Léonard, said cancelling a concert has “a big impact on our finances and our relationship with the community.”

This situation comes two years after Sudbury Symphony Orchestra received a bailout from the City of Greater Sudbury because of financial problems, one of a few arts organizations asking the city for funds around that time.

“We overcame a big challenge two years ago already,” Léonard said. “We demonstrated that we are a resilient organization and focused on building a future. We overcame that challenge.

“And so now to face another challenge so soon after we overcame the other one obviously is difficult, but we will again. We will make music again. We will be resilient again.”

Léonard said people can get a refund on their tickets for the March 28 performance if they phone the SSO office.

But “we ask kindly those people that bought a ticket that are able to sustain this financially, that they consider not getting a refund and support us in this difficult time,” she said.

Sudbury Indie Cinema announced Monday — one day ahead of the Ontario directive shuttering all movie theatres — it was closing to the public until further notice due to COVID-19.

Although Sudbury Indie Cinema is a small, one-theatre venue, managing director Beth Mairs said Monday afternoon that given the cinema is a non-essential service, closing seemed the socially responsible thing to do.

“Financially, it's horrible,” she said. “I think that in the arts and culture sector, things are run on a very tight budget.

“It's definitely a sector where there will be an impact, not unlike a lot of other small businesses.

“I'm thinking about us here and our operation, but I'm also thinking about all of the other places that will also choose to close or be forced to close because they don't have the flow of traffic that they're accustomed to.

“It's going to be a big hit.”
 




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