Concert halls closed as Ontario’s COVID-19 rules ban live broadcasts – Red Deer Advocate
TORONTO – Ontario concert hall owners are demanding more transparency from the provincial government after the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions banned live-streaming shows with little notice.
For the second time this year, club owners say they remained frustrated and confused as the province told them to put virtual shows aside while other industries operate on less strict precautions.
“The government chooses winners and losers without any logic,” said Jeff Cohen, owner of Horseshoe Tavern, a downtown Toronto venue that was teeming with crowds before the pandemic but turned to live broadcasts. over the past year to stay in business.
“The moment we try to do something proactive… we just get hit on the head with a rubber mallet.”
Doug Ford’s “emergency brake” plan, presented Thursday, bans virtual shows in empty concert halls for the next four weeks. It has frustrated some in the live music industry, pointing out that shoppers are still allowed to walk through malls while TV and film productions continue to roll into movie studios.
For the past year, Cohen has been looking for ways to keep the lights on at the Horseshoe while supporting Canadian musicians.
Last August, he launched the Horseshoe Hootenanny, a live streaming concert series that died out when Ontario leaders unveiled stricter health guidelines late last year, which made it illegal to maintain the series.
After tapping into government funding, Cohen recently revived the live broadcast series shortly before the Ford government tightened restrictions again as COVID-19 cases increased.
The virtual Horseshoe concerts originally scheduled for April have all been pushed back to May, including dates for the Trews, Terra Lightfoot and Hawksley Workman.
All of this would make sense to Cohen if he didn’t see the province making special exceptions for other industries.
“I’m a careful guy, so I’m like ‘OK, we can’t broadcast live.’ But you can line up at a non-essential retail store to buy a skirt? ”Cohen says.
“Like, that doesn’t… sense at all.”
Journalist and artistic presenter Garvia Bailey faced similar confusion on Tuesday when she learned that a music education event she was scheduled to host at Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto had been postponed.
The children’s show “Making Waves” on Wednesday promised 45 schools a “virtual excursion” featuring both music and fish reflections.
Bailey says they spent days reviewing provincial rules and the safety plans included face masks and Plexiglas dividers between the performers, which included 11 musicians.
“It’s so disheartening when you do all the work that I know these guys and I (are doing to) make the kids really fun,” Bailey said.
“It’s so twisted and at a time when we’re all so hungry for clarity – like give us some clarity, give us some direction, like give us some leadership.”
While the co-owner of Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theater has said she supports the government’s health measures, she doesn’t understand why live music seems to be overlooked.
Lisa Zbitnew pointed to the advancing film and television shoots and wondered how a production crew in an empty concert hall was different from a studio shoot.
“It’s upsetting that for some reason the music industry is being treated a bit like an outcast,” she said.
“We’re not suggesting that we can do something that others can’t. We always seem to be at the end of the line.
David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said the distinction is that film and television producers have been “very strict about their investment in tests and protocols” while virtual streaming events haven’t haven’t made the “same type of protective investments, which won’t cost money.
“It’s an ongoing effort whereas in the virtual arts it’s sometimes very elaborate at this point,” Williams said at a press conference.
Williams also pointed out the limitations of actor and crew activities, while virtual concerts can have “a number of people on stage at the same time, sometimes very close”.
Erin Benjamin, executive director of the Canadian Live Music Association’s advocacy organization, said suffering another short-notice shutdown added to an emotionally and financially draining year for the music industry.