Theaters, concert halls cautiously optimistic about reopening scenarios
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This article has been published 3/18/2021 (198 days ago), the information it contains may therefore no longer be up to date.
News that the province plans to allow indoor theaters and concert halls at limited capacity over the next three weeks came like music to the ears of the general manager of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
“These days, one little piece of good news goes a long way,” Trudy Schroeder said Thursday, hours after the province announced it was seeking public comment on the potential change, as well as a host of other relaxation of public health restrictions.
Royal Winnipeg Ballet artistic director Andre Lewis called the potential move “a step in the right direction.”
For performance organizations like the RWB or the WSO, this is an indication that performances, which have been confined to digital productions since the province went code red in the fall, may soon have an element that Schroeder says. , sorely lacking: an audience.
The last time a number of spectators watched a symphonic performance in person was on October 2, 2020.
After several months of restrictions and closures, the symphony finally got the green light for a live performance, and 427 people sat in the 2,300-seat Centennial concert hall to listen to Bach and Beethoven standards with practices. improved sanitation and distancing in place.
It was great to be back for Bach, Schroeder said, but the elation was short-lived: With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing, the province soon again restricted live performances. – a break still in effect six months later.
If concert halls and indoor theaters could open with limited capacity, Schroeder said, some math will have to be done to ensure that a concert is achievable not only from a safety and personnel perspective, but also from a financial point of view.
Ultimately, whether any shows take place will be determined in large part by whether the venues are interested in operating without any assurance that any profit will result, she said.
The CEO of Manitoba Centennial Center Corp., which owns and operates the Winnipeg concert hall, said this was a concession that will have to be made if consumer confidence is to be restored.
“For us, that means we can start building confidence with the live audience that they can come back safely,” said Robert Olson, who said of the 2,300 seats in the hall, only 250 would likely be available to viewers.
Operating at this level would require significant costs, including personnel and maintenance, but Olson said it will be worth it as the world of performance rebuilds itself. “We envision a cost incurred to build confidence on the road.”
A spokesperson for True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd., which owns and operates Bell MTS Place and the Burton Cummings Theater, told the Free press the organization has “the capacity, experience and resources to open the arena and (the theater) when it is safe to do so, but no timeline has been discussed”.
Olson said there were still things to be resolved, assuming the province would soon give the green light to theaters and concert halls for limited capacity. However, if this is the case, the venue will cope with the situation as it unfolds.
“It’s really up to the animators,” he said. “The concert hall will be available as soon as the artists are ready.”