Resource (International): Adapting in Crisis – Case Studies of Resilience in the Arts

Adapting in Crisis: Case Studies of Resilience in the Arts

The Knight Foundation has just published a new set of case studies, focusing on four disparate arts groups that took part in the program Building the Capacity to Innovate and Adapt, designed and facilitated by EmcArts. Research and reporting by WolfBrown.

The work with EmcArts was started before COVID-19, but the profiles show how well it prepared the groups to tackle the complexities of the pandemic in new and productive ways, facilitating the resilience of the sector.

READ THE STUDY

News (National): Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses Seeks Extension of CEWS and CERS

A March 2021 survey released today on Parliament Hill reveals that 60% of Canada’s hardest hit businesses will not survive if the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) as well as the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) are not extended beyond the June 5th deadline to the end of the year. The survey with over 1,700 respondents from across Canada was conducted by the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses.

Based on the survey results, the Coalition is formally appealing to the Federal Government to provide certainty and announce an extension of the CEWS and CERS supports to the end of the year for the hardest hit sectors in the April budget.

Our businesses were the first hit by the pandemic, the hardest hit by closures, and will be the last to recover. With extended support, we can thrive and survive. Without it, Canada’s tourism, culture and hospitality industries will be devastated for a generation,” announced Beth Potter, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, hard hit businesses that make up the coalition employed more than 2 million Canadians – about 1 in every 10 jobs. The membership is primarily Canadian-owned small or medium-sized businesses providing significant employment while living in the local community. Our employees are predominantly women, young people, Indigenous and new Canadians – populations whose employment has been particularly impacted by the pandemic.

For businesses that find their recovery impaired by the lingering effects of mass gathering bans and other public health policies, the CEWS and CERS programs will be a lifeline. Their continuation would make the difference between a vibrant tourism and cultural industry in Canada, and a breakdown of the critical infrastructure that supports the travel and tourism sector,” said Susie Grynol, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada.

In the absence of any certainty, many festival and event organizers are nearing the point where they must decide whether to cancel their planned activities for this year or to go ahead with a smaller scale edition. Chances are, they are going to once again miss out on the opportunity to generate their revenues for the year. Other sectors of the economy may begin to recover as restrictions ease, but the events sector will not be in a position to do so and will require continued government support until a return to normal occurs,” added Martin Roy, Executive Director of Festivals and Major Events.

We hope that by the summer we will continue to see an easing of restrictions and a modest return of leisure travel. However, the decisions to cancel conventions for this fall have already been made and business travel will not recover in the short term. Where the recovery is quick these businesses will not qualify for government support. But if there are protracted restrictions from COVID, we will need to know this support is there,” concluded Potter.

The Coalition also stressed that efforts to safely stimulate domestic tourism, lower interprovincial travel barriers and reopen international borders are critically important. But such measures must be accompanied by critical support programs to ensure that highly affected sectors can bridge to the other side.

The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses is an industry-driven group of over 100 stakeholders representing a variety of sectors including tourism, travel, arts and culture, events and festivals, accommodation and hospitality.

To learn more about the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses, visit www.HardestHit.ca.

OUR ASK
Help Canada’s hardest hit businesses survive

Canada’s hardest hit businesses need to know that government will continue to provide support until necessary public health restrictions are lifted and normal travel and events can resume.

That the Budget on April 19, 2021 include:

  • An extension and enhancement of CEWS at 75% targeting hard hit industries until the end of 2021; and
  • An extension and enhancement of the CERS program for hard hit businesses, including deeper support for medium-sized businesses.

READ OUR LETTER TO MINISTER FREELAND

CREATE A LETTER TO YOUR MP

Resource (National): National Arts and Culture Impact Survey Results

Image of leaves - clipart image of survey. Text: National Arts and Culture Impact Survey

Theatre Alberta recently collaborated with national and provincial arts service organizations across a range of artistic disciplines on the National Arts and Culture Impact Survey (NACIS). The survey was designed to capture a snapshot in time of arts organizations, artists, and arts workers across Canada. It was open for responses from November 3 to 23, 2020.

The recently released results paint an overall picture of high stress levels endured by organizations and individuals, short-term economic and psychological fall-out, the value and reach of key government interventions, an impressive level of resourcefulness and creativity, and longer-term questions about the sustainability and appeal of careers in the sector after this seismic shock.

In total, 1,273 individuals and 728 organizations from across Canada completed the survey, for a total of 2,001 responses. The survey was designed to capture a snapshot in time of arts organizations, artists, and arts workers across Canada. PRA Inc., an independent research firm with offices in Winnipeg and Ottawa, was retained to administer and report on the survey.

Read The Reports

ENGLISH REPORTS: http://bit.ly/nacis-enrsc
FRENCH REPORTS: http://bit.ly/enrsc-nacis

Who is behind the NACIS?

The NACIS was co-commissioned by a group of national and provincial arts service organizations representing a range of artistic disciplines across Canada:

Alberta Craft Council
Alberta Dance Alliance
Alberta Magazine Publishers Association
Alberta Media Arts Alliance Society
Alberta Media Production Industries Association
Alberta Music
Arts Touring Alliance of Alberta
Atlantic Presenters Association
Association des groupes en arts visuels francophones (AGAVF)
Book Publishers Association of Alberta
Canadian Dance Assembly (CDA)
Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA)
CAPACOA
CARFAC
Dance Ontario
Dance Umbrella of Ontario

 

Independent Media Arts Alliance (IMAA)
Fédération culturelle canadienne-française (FCCF)
Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance (GVPTA)
Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG)
Ontario Culture Days
Ontario Presents
The Association for Opera in Canada (formerly Opera.ca)
Orchestras Canada
Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT)
Playwrights Guild of Canada
Regroupement artistique francophone de l’Alberta (RAFA)
Theatre Alberta
Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA)
WorkInCulture
Writers’ Guild of Alberta

 

Who Are We Now? Essays from a New World – Jacquelyn Cardinal

Who Are We Now? Essays From A New World is an initiative from Theatre Alberta that brings you editorial perspectives from a variety of Albertan artists about the rapidly changing world we live and work in. We hope you’ll find them useful as you process your own evolving reality.


FROM THE DESK OF AN APOCALYPSE DOULA – Jacquelyn Cardinal | December 15, 2020

One of the clearest varieties of memory I have of my childhood were the nights when Hunter, my younger brother, and I were treated to myth-sharing by our Dad. Rather than reading the usual storybook chosen from our shared collection, he would tell us epic stories from our people, the nêhiyawak, brought to life with shadows cast by his hands on our bedroom walls. These stories almost always starred animals, spirits, and grand challenges met with courage, love, and sacrifice.
 
In a wash of unexpected nostalgia, a favourite of these stories returned to Hunter and me in March of this year as we watched the news of the pandemic unfolding around the world from our shared apartment in downtown Edmonton. On a long walk in the river valley after a particularly difficult news day, we retold in parts the story that we now recognize as one known by many cultures on Turtle Island as a remaking of the world story.
 
The version our Dad shared with us begins after a great flood had covered the earth in a shallow sea, upon which a vast turtle floated. Atop the turtle, a group of animals huddled together, waiting for the waters to recede. Among these animals were a rabbit, an otter, a beaver, a loon, and a muskrat.
 
One day, the Creator came down to the animals and told them that if they wanted new land to live on, they must retrieve some of the earth deep below the water and place it on the turtle’s back. Only then, the Creator said, would new land grow.
 
The hopes were highest for the strongest swimmers like the otter, but as each animal tried and failed, that hope soon turned to despair.
 
After agreeing amongst themselves that they should try, each of the animals took turns to dive down below the water. The hopes were highest for the strongest swimmers like the otter, but as each animal tried and failed, that hope soon turned to despair. Eventually, only the muskrat remained untested, but the other animals told the muskrat not to bother with an attempt himself and that the strong swimmers would keep trying. 
 
During the night, while the other animals slept off the fatigue of a day spent trying to reach the bottom of the sea, the muskrat lay awake on his back, looking at the stars. In his heart, he began to realize what needed to be done. With a splash that woke the other animals from their sleep, the muskrat dived down beneath the water. The other animals called for the muskrat and watched the swirling sea, waiting for him to surface. But as short moments stretched into long ones, they fell into silence.
 
It wasn’t until the sun was halfway across the sky that they saw something bobbing on the water in the distance. When the turtle had gotten close enough to recognize the shape of the muskrat, still and soundless, the other animals jumped into the water to pull the little body onto the turtle’s shell. As they began to mourn the muskrat, arranging the body in the centre of the shell in alignment with the path of the sun, they noticed that one of the muskrat’s paws was shut tight. Gently, the otter opened it and found a small bit of dark mud inside.
 
The animals began to celebrate, their joy mixed with many tears, as they turned the muskrat’s paw to drop the mud on to the turtle’s shell. The land that grew from that small bit of mud, clasped in the paw of the humble muskrat, lies beneath our feet today.
 
“I always wondered how the animals got there in the first place,” I remember saying to Hunter, crunching through the snow and ice that still stuck to the ground. “Did Dad ever tell you that part?”
 
“No, I don’t think so,” Hunter responded. 
 
I couldn’t recall either.

Many Indigenous scholars have said for years that we, as Indigenous peoples, are leading lives in our post-apocalypse. When I had first heard this idea, it immediately resonated, explaining (at least in part) why the myth of the remaking of the world struck a chord so deep within me, even as a kid. The fact that the ways of life that would be recognizable to our ancestors are gone, likely never to return, creates a strange form of grief that is difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t already know it in their blood and bones. 
 
…it’s always there—providing teachings about loss and loneliness that no one wants, but everyone needs.
 
I find this grief to be an omnipresent character in my storytelling. It’s rarely the main character, but it’s always there—providing teachings about loss and loneliness that no one wants, but everyone needs. My sense of duty to sit with this teacher, listen intently, and try to bring those teachings forward in my stories led me to jokingly coin a term that I honestly feel suits me better than playwright: Apocalypse Doula, one who sits in between the old world and the new.
 
As March turned to April, then slowly to May, something about the liminality of the pandemic (a port of call for Apocalypse Doulas such as myself) brought clearly to mind the story of the animals on the back of the turtle. “How did they do it?” I would wonder aloud to Hunter and anyone else who knew the story well, “How did the animals move from losing everything of the old world, that grief, and decide to try and create something new? Why is that part of the story untold?”
 
No one had answers. 
 
Actor in shadowy light facing the front of a stage. Purple and blue starry background.

Hunter Cardinal in Lake of Strangers. Photo by Ryan Parker.

 
So just as we had done when we created our play Lake of the Strangers, Hunter and I began to engage in a process that we call “myth architecture.” An extension of the teachings we’ve gained from our Elders, who have told us that storytellers tell stories for those who need them, myth architecture begins with a question that feels important but is without an answer and challenges us to craft a narrative that provides some sort of response. Often, this looks like “completing,” “expanding,” or “setting up” a pre-existing myth. With Lake of the Strangers, for example, we completed the myth of mista muskwa (The Big Bear) as we tried to answer the question: Why should we heal when there is so much darkness?
 
As we continued to imagine the image of the animals floating on the back of the vast turtle of legend, a concept emerged for the story that we began to work on in earnest this past summer: câpân. When complete, câpân will be the tale of how the animals got to the back of the turtle. Through the lens of a group of teenagers finding their way at the end of the last great ice age on Turtle Island, we will seek to answer the question, “What do we need to begin rebuilding the world once the old one has been swallowed up?”

Like most of us, I know I’m counting down the days until the end of 2020, despite understanding that once we emerge into a new year, we will still be in the process of being forever changed by a world that has ended and has not yet been reborn. 
 
Each and every one of our ancestors endured times such as these, and we will too.
 
Let’s not mince words: this is indeed a deeply sad and frightening time. We are separated from one another, have lost things that may never return in the same way, and we don’t know what the future holds. But, as Marcus Aurelius said during the time of plague during his reign in 165 CE, “All of this has happened before and will happen again—the same plot from beginning to end.” Each and every one of our ancestors endured times such as these, and we will too.
 
Inexperienced as I am, I do believe that any good Apocalypse Doula will say that while we have no choice but to exist in the in-between that is this shared journey through our apocalypse of sorts, we do have the opportunity to reach out for what is old and good so that it may take root and become solid beneath our feet once again. 
 
And it seems that English, though it fails me often, carries this teaching as well, for the origin of the word apocalypse is Greek, meaning “to uncover.” 
 
So may you uncover light, love, and hope until we can see each other once more on the other side.

Jacquelyn_Hunter_headshot


Jacquelyn is a sakāwithiniwak (Woodland Cree) playwright and producer hailing from Sucker Creek Cree First Nation who, in all aspects of her life, seeks to equip communities with the means to support themselves and each other while walking together on a shared path, a sentiment passed down to her through the generations.

 
 

Resource (Alberta): Pivot Online: A Toolkit for Artists and Non-Profit Organizations

Over the shoulder image of someone working on a computer. Website: alberta.ca/covid19

COVID-19 has changed the way artists, the arts sector, and nonprofit organizations are engaging with Albertans. There are many phenomenal examples and insights for how artists and nonprofit organizations can pivot their work online. Even before the pandemic, technology has been changing the way we do business. The pandemic has continued to highlight why it’s so important we learn and adapt to this new world.

The Pivot Online: A Toolkit for Artists and Nonprofit Organizations is available to help artists and nonprofits work remotely and extend your reach. The toolkit captures and shares the insights from artists and organizations who have pivoted their work online and provides information, resources, and inspirations to help artists and nonprofit organizations pivot some, or all, of their operations online. You can find the toolkit on the Alberta website at alberta.ca.

In addition to the toolkit, Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women will be hosting a series of Pivot Online: A Toolkit for Artists and Nonprofit Organizations webinars for artists, artist organizations and nonprofits, and sector capacity builders. Each webinar will demonstrate specific aspects of the Pivot Online Toolkit and feature peer success stories. The webinars will also be recorded live and posted on YouTube for Albertan’s use.

Webinar dates:

  • December 16, 2020 – 3:00 pm to 4:15 pm – Virtual Organization – Remote Operations (Sector Capacity Builder)
  • January 4, 2021 – 4:00 pm to 5:15 pm – Success in a Digital World – Social Media (Artists)
  • January 6, 2021 – 3:00 pm to 4:15 pm – Virtual Organization – Programs and Services Online (Arts & Non-profit Organizations)

Please go to albertacdu.eventbrite.com to register for one or all of these webinars.

Resource (Alberta): Additional Information About Restrictions on Performance Activities

New public health measures were announced by the Governent of Alberta on December 8. The new measures include a ban on both indoor and outdoor social gatherings and mandatory mask use in public indoor settings across the province. Working from home is also mandatory except in cases where physical presence is required to maintain ‘operational effectiveness.’

The restrictions on performing arts activities announced on November 24 remain in place. Here’s a brief summary of those restrictions:

  • Live performances for an audience are prohibited
  • Indoor group rehearsals are not allowed
  • An individual may rehearse indoors
  • Outdoor rehearsals with a maximum of 10 people are allowed provided that physical distancing and other relevant guidelines are followed.

The process for applying for exemptions outlined below is still applicable. Exemptions that have already been granted remain valid.


Alberta Health has provided additional information, via Alberta Culture, Multiculturalism, and Status of Women’s Arts Branch, about mandatory restrictions on performance activities announced by Premier Jason Kenney on November 24, 2020. Information for all mandatory restrictions is published at www.alberta.ca/enhanced-public-health-measures.aspx.

Alberta Health defines performance activities to include dancing, singing, theatre and playing wind instruments. Mandatory restrictions are currently in effect for group performance activities in all enhanced (purple) areas of Alberta. You may view a map of all communities under enhanced status at www.alberta.ca/maps/covid-19-status-map.htm.

Restrictions

Under no circumstances will live performance for an audience be permitted in enhanced (purple) areas during this period.

Rehearsals and practices in outdoor settings are permitted up to a maximum of 10 participants. Physical distancing and other relevant guidelines must be followed.

Within indoor settings rehearsals, practices, and performances involving two or more people are not permitted. (Individual practice is permitted indoors.)

Exemptions

Alberta Health may provide exemptions for the following:

  • Group rehearsals or practice, or
  • Group performance for the purpose of live-stream broadcast or recordings.

How to apply for an exemption

Certain requirements must be demonstrated to be considered for an exemption. Detailed descriptions of performance activities are not required. An organization or ensemble must provide:

  • Evidence that they planned a performance to occur prior to January 15, 2021, and that they either:
  1. pre-sold tickets for this event, or
  2. prepared and publicized a performance.
  • Evidence that not proceeding with the activity will result in a significant negative economic impact to the artists or arts organization.
  • Information about type of activities that will be conducted and precautions being taken to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
  • The total number of people participating during the activity, both performers and other workers.
  • The venue required for the activity, and information about its protocols to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

Requests for exemption may be submitted to Alberta Health via Biz Connect at [email protected].

Resource (National): Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) question & answer sessions

The Government of Canada is taking targeted action to support Canadians and Canadian businesses, non-profits and charities that continue to face uncertainty and economic challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) provides direct commercial rent or property expense support to tenants and property owners of qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19.
 
The new rent subsidy supports businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop by providing support up to a maximum of 65% of eligible expenses. Qualifying organizations that are under a lockdown or have significantly limited activities due to a public health order will have access to Lockdown Support, a top-up subsidy of 25%, meaning that they could receive rent or property expenses support of up to 90%.
 
Applicants can claim the subsidy retroactively for the period that began on September 27 and ended on October 24, 2020.
 
The CRA has launched CERS webpages, an online CERS calculator, and CERS infographics (Take a look at the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy has got you covered, and We’re here to help) to assist organizations in preparing their applications.
 
To complement these resources, the CRA will host a series of interactive question and answer sessions for eligible organizations.
 
English CERS session
Date: Thursday, December 3, 2020 
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., EST 
Location: Teleconference
 
If you are interested in participating in this English language session, click here to register.
 
French CERS session
Date: Thursday, December 3, 2020 
Time: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m., EST
Location: Teleconference
 
If you are interested in participating in this French language session, click here to register.
 
We kindly ask that you register as soon as possible, as capacity is limited. We ask that each organization only have one participant register and participate in the session. The questions gathered during these sessions will be considered by the CRA in its ongoing communications efforts.
 
Please note: If the session you want to attend is full, you will be able to add your name to a waitlist and we will contact you if we organize future sessions.
 
The CRA also encourages organizations who haven’t already done so to sign up for My Business Account or Represent a Client, as well as for Direct deposit. Please also refer to Protect yourself against fraud, if you have any concerns.
 
Please visit the CERS webpages for updates.
 

Version française ***The English version precedes***

 
Le gouvernement du Canada prend des mesures ciblées pour appuyer les Canadiens, les entreprises, les organismes à but non lucratif et les organismes de bienfaisance du Canada qui continuent de faire face à l’incertitude et aux défis économiques liés à la pandémie de COVID-19.
 
La nouvelle Subvention d’urgence du Canada pour le loyer (SUCL) offre un soutien direct pour le loyer commercial ou les dépenses liées à la propriété, aux locataires et aux propriétaires d’organisations affectées par la COVID-19 qui se qualifient.
 
La nouvelle subvention pour le loyer appuie les entreprises, les organismes de bienfaisance et les organismes à but non lucratif qui ont subi des pertes de revenu, en fournissant un appui pouvant atteindre jusqu’à 65 % des dépenses admissibles.
 
Les organismes admissibles qui ont été assujettis à un confinement ou limiter de façon considérable leurs activités en raison d’une ordonnance de santé publique peuvent être admissibles à un soutien supplémentaire en cas de confinement de 25 % des dépenses admissibles, ce qui signifie qu’ils pourraient recevoir du soutien pour le loyer ou les dépenses de propriété allant jusqu’à 90%.
 
Les demandeurs peuvent demander la subvention rétroactivement pour la période qui a commencé le 27 septembre et qui a pris fin le 24 octobre 2020.
 
 
En complément à ces ressources, l’Agence organisera des séances de questions et de réponses interactives à l’intention des organismes admissibles.
 
Séance en français sur la SUCL
Date : Le jeudi 3 décembre 2020 
Heure : de 15 h à 16 h HNE
Lieu : Téléconférence
 
Si vous souhaitez participer à cette séance en français, cliquez ici pour vous y inscrire.
 
Séance en anglais sur la SUCL
Date : Le jeudi 3 décembre 2020 
Heure : de 13 h à 14 h HNE
Lieu : Téléconférence
 
Si vous souhaitez participer à cette séance en anglais, cliquez ici pour vous y inscrire.
 
Nous vous prions de bien vouloir vous inscrire dès que possible, puisque les places sont limitées. En raison du nombre limité de places, nous demandons à chaque organisme de n’inscrire qu’un seul participant à la séance. Les questions recueillies au cours de cette séance à venir seront prises en considération par l’Agence dans le cadre de ses efforts constants en matière de communication.
 
Remarque: si la séance à laquelle vous souhaitez assister est complète, vous pouvez ajouter votre nom sur une liste d’attente. Nous communiquerons avec vous si nous organisons une autre séance.
 
L’Agence encourage également les organismes qui ne l’ont pas déjà fait à s’inscrire au service Mon dossier d’entreprise ou Représenter un client, ainsi qu’au dépôt direct. Veuillez également consulter la page Protégez-vous contre la fraude, si vous avez des préoccupations.
 
Veuillez consulter les pages Web de la SUCL pour les mises à jour.
 
 
 

Who Are We Now? Essays From A New World – Jenna Shummoogum

Who Are We Now? Essays From A New World is an initiative from Theatre Alberta that brings you editorial perspectives from a variety of Albertan artists about the rapidly changing world we live and work in. We hope you’ll find them useful as you process your own evolving reality.


TURNING TOWARDS – Jenna Shummoogum | November 25, 2020

 
As I look around at what appears to be the second wave, the highest numbers of COVID cases in Alberta ever, new restrictions looming and medical doctors sounding the alarm, all I can see is grief.
 
I’m pretty familiar with the messiness of loss. My best friend died six years ago, and I was swallowed by grief. The truth is that it isn’t just sorrow, and it would be so much easier if it was. Grief is rage and resentment as well as deep sorrow and loss.
 
I think it’s time we acknowledge that.
 
We are afraid of getting sick, we are tired and frustrated of restriction against an enemy that we can’t see, we fear losing those close to us or our loved ones getting sick because of decisions we made. It’s easier to rage at the government or deny the seriousness of the virus or complain that society is taking away our rights. In the face of these hard truths, it is easier to turn away than to turn towards.
 
Theatre made you turn towards.
 
Did you know that your brain produces oxytocin when you hear a good story with emotional pull?
 
Theatre is the perfect way to tell stories. The dark room, the quiet, the ability to experience a story in several different ways with other people, led by some of the best people to do the job.
 
The very first theatre performance that rocked me to the core was Ghost River Theatre’s production of One, pushing forward this idea moving forward by letting go.
 
I can remember theatre pieces that I experienced years ago, I remember performances that inspired me, I think about theatre that changed me. The very first theatre performance that rocked me to the core was Ghost River Theatre’s production of One, pushing forward this idea of moving forward by letting go. I still think of Quiptake and Pandemic Theatre’s production of Daughter in the High Performance Rodeo, a theatre piece that was a glimpse into toxic masculinity. The stories that came out of Theatre Calgary’s production of Da Kink in My Hair haunt me at times.
 
I carry all these experiences and stories, and they have changed the way I see the world.
 
It hasn’t been perfect by any means. There is the fact that as a woman of colour it took me seven years to see myself reflected on a Calgary stage. The fact that whiteness is central in storytelling and that other kinds of stories were few and far between.
 
Theatre has some work to do.
 
When I was running the Calgary Theatre Critic’s Awards in Calgary, I saw up to 70 shows a year, for five years. I have been writing about and reviewing theatre for a decade. I hold this bizarre space in the Calgary theatre community, as both a member of and a visitor to the community.
 
The loss of theatre this year has hit me so very hard.
 
This time is when we need theatre and artists the most. We are losing connection to each other. In our grief, it is so easy to stay within our own narrative, with us at the centre of the story.
 
But in a time where it is so dangerous to gather, theatre cannot happen in the same way.
 
Since March, I’ve seen and experienced a variety of different ways that theatre has adapted. Podcasts, radio plays, theatre productions that are on demand or streamed at a certain time.
 
I haven’t been able to turn towards.
 
I’m still working through my loss. My heartbreak for my community, with no light at the end of the tunnel. The loss of not really being able to immerse myself in a story that changes how I see the world. And with things getting worse, not better, it’s hard to hold onto optimism.
 
But sometimes, as Bruce Cockburn once wrote, you’ve “got to kick at the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight.”
 
This is a great opportunity to start to address some of the problems.
 
Theatre has always survived and has always come back. Shakespeare survived various plagues and hunkered down and wrote some of his most brilliant work. This is a great opportunity to start to address some of the problems. Recently, the Canadian Theatre Critics’ Association hosted an anti-oppression workshop, facilitated by Edmonton-based artist Makram Ayache.
 
Storybook Theatre, Theatre Calgary, Vertigo Theatre, Alberta Theatre Projects, in Calgary along with the Citadel Theatre, Theatre Yes, Workshop West and Northern Light in Edmonton all are offering theatre performances of some sort, and it’s a way to plug in to connection with performance and community.
 
Theatre will come back, in its original in-person form, and it might have even more tricks up its sleeve when it does. But here’s hoping that it also comes back ready to take on the diversity, equity and accessibility challenges too.
 
I, for one, cannot wait for its return.


Jenna Shummoogum headshot


Jenna Shummoogum is a communications and marketing coordinator by day and a theatre and dance critic by night. She has been a theatre critic for a decade and has contributed work to LiveWire Calgary, getdown.ca, the Calgary Herald and Avenue Magazine online. She was a member and lead organizer of the Calgary Theatre Critics’ awards (The Critters) for 2 years and is a member of the Canadian Theatre Critics’ Association.

 
 

Survey (National): The National Arts and Culture Impact Survey (NACIS)

Image of leaves - clipart image of survey. Text: National Arts and Culture Impact Survey

Theatre Alberta has joined forces with 30 national and provincial arts service organizations across a range of artistic disciplines to develop the National Arts and Culture Impact Survey (NACIS). All arts organizations, artists, and arts workers across Canada are encouraged to participate in the survey by Monday, November 23, 2020. The more responses we receive, the better the data will be.

The NACIS was designed to capture a snapshot in time. Contributions to this survey will help paint a clearer picture of the current state of the arts and culture sector in Canada and shape arts advocacy efforts across our sector in the months to come. Questions revolve around the impact COVID-19 has had and will have on your work, finances, and plans. You will not be asked for any identifying information other than the first three digits of your postal code and the arts service organization(s) with which you or your organization are affiliated.

To complete the survey visit: https://survey.pra.ca/SE/1/NACIS/

There are two paths through the NACIS: you may choose to fill it out as an individual artist or arts worker, or on behalf of an organization, group, or collective. The survey will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete. If you’d like to represent both perspectives, you may choose to complete the survey twice.

Aggregate data will be shared with and reported on by the arts service organizations who commissioned the study. You will also have the opportunity to consent to sharing your survey responses with Theatre Alberta and any other arts service organization(s) you select for the purposes of sector- and region-specific reporting.

Who is behind the NACIS?

The NACIS was co-commissioned by a group of national and provincial arts service organizations representing a range of artistic disciplines across Canada:

Alberta Craft Council
Alberta Dance Alliance
Alberta Magazine Publishers Association
Alberta Media Arts Alliance Society
Alberta Media Production Industries Association
Alberta Music
Arts Touring Alliance of Alberta
Atlantic Presenters Association
Association des groupes en arts visuels francophones (AGAVF)
Book Publishers Association of Alberta
Canadian Dance Assembly (CDA)
Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA)
CAPACOA
CARFAC
Dance Ontario
Dance Umbrella of Ontario

 

Independent Media Arts Alliance (IMAA)
Fédération culturelle canadienne-française (FCCF)
Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance (GVPTA)
Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG)
Ontario Culture Days
Ontario Presents
The Association for Opera in Canada (formerly Opera.ca)
Orchestras Canada
Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT)
Playwrights Guild of Canada
Regroupement artistique francophone de l’Alberta (RAFA)
Theatre Alberta
Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA)
WorkInCulture
Writers’ Guild of Alberta

The contributing arts service organizations have retained PRA Inc., a national marketing research firm based in Winnipeg, to administer the survey.

Event (Online): Mental Wellness for Artists in a Pandemic

Ghostlight Studio Sessions - Menatl Wellness for Artists in a Pandemic

Studio Sessions: Mental Wellness for Artists in a Pandemic
October 29th *NEW TIME* 7PM (EST)
Watch it LIVE on Facebook

Join Host and Curator Charlotte Gowdy in a discussion with Kelly Straughan (Executive Artistic Director at Workman Arts), Kevin Chiao (theatre artist and mental health worker), and Steve Ross (theatre artist and mental health advocate).

Discussion points we would like to cover:

  • the mental toll of being an out-of-work / underemployed artist
  • what is “pandemic brain”?
  • what does grief have to do with it?
  • effects of social isolation
  • hot tips to stay mentally fit

Have a question for our panel? Send them ahead of broadcast to: www.ghostlight.ca/studio-sessions

Or join us LIVE and chat with our guests during the broadcast.

News (Alberta): Updated Guidance on Performing Arts Activities

Alberta logo

On September 11, 2020, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced the province will allow limited band practices, indoor singing and concerts involving wind instruments. The following guidance documents on Alberta.ca have been updated to reflect these changes:
The above guidance documents replace the guidance for live music, dance and theatre document, which has been archived. Please note that General relaunch guidance has also been updated as of September 11.
 
All guidance documents published on Alberta.ca include a date (in parentheses) that indicates when it was last updated. If there is an inconsistency in policy between two documents, the document with the most recent update supersedes all others for the section(s) that conflicts. 
 

Relevant guidance documents for the arts sector

 
The following relaunch guidance documents (listed below in order of most recently updated) may be of interest to arts organizations and the wider arts community: 
Guidance documents in languages other than English are also available on Alberta.ca.
 

Flexibility for cohort groups

 
Cohort groups are small groups of people whose members do not always keep two metres apart. Performing arts groups may be interested to know:
  • Performers can have a cohort of up to 50 people (cast members or performers)
  • People can be part of a sports/performing cohort and a household cohort at the same time
Learn more by reviewing the guidance for Cohort groups
 
 

Announcement (International): Remote Performance Rights Now Available for Select Titles – Music Theatre International

 

Introducing Remote Performance Rights. Image of computer screens with people in online meetings.

Because of the ongoing nature of the pandemic, many customers have realized that gathering on stage for a live production may not be possible. If getting together in-person is not an option, consider licensing the rights to perform an MTI musical remotely.

For select titles, MTI is now offering Remote Performance Rights – the ability to produce the show with cast members performing individually from remote locations rather than live on stage.

Remote Performance Rights give you the ability to use video conferencing technology (e.g. Zoom) or other recording methods to create and capture a “Remote Performance” of your musical to be shown on the showtix4u.com streaming platform.

We are extremely excited to help provide new ways for your shows to go on, and we are working hard to provide Remote Performance Rights for as many MTI shows as possible. The list of available shows will grow over time so please visit the MTI website to learn when new titles are added and for information about licensing.

CLICK HERE to learn more.

Who Are We Now? Essays From A New World – Helen Knight

COVID has undoubtedly marked our work indelibly, both in terms of practice and philosophy.  This new, short-term initiative from Theatre Alberta brings you editorial perspectives from within this change written by a variety of artists from our province.  We hope you’ll find them useful in your own processing of this new reality.  

 
Our next essay was written by actor, writer, and nurse Helen Knight.


OVATIONS OF A COVID KIND – Helen Knight | June 10, 2020

I read once that clapping is like a high five you give yourself for someone else’s accomplishment. And although this cynicism gives me a chuckle, in these physically distant times, a self high-five is perhaps our safest bet. 
 
The idea of applause is a complicated one. I both miss it, and mistrust it. It is both a boisterous non-verbal expression of approval, and also just an instinctual response to having collectively experienced something together. In other words, we don’t always clap when we want to, but simply because we’re social beings in a group. I myself know that I have, maybe once or twice, applauded shows that have been – and please forgive my cold unfeeling heart here – less than brilliant (don’t worry, it wasn’t yours). And heaven help us before we get into the mess of the standing ovation. Does it even mean anything if my mom was the first to stand? Do we all have to stand now? Everyone else is standing, and I didn’t love the show, but now I’m an ass if I’m the only one seated. Or, I did love the show, but now I don’t want to stand now because I am an artist, damnit, not a lemming! 

Or perhaps it’s just my overactive neuroses making all the noise. 
 
I hadn’t been on a stage in months, but I had just gotten home from a long shift at the hospital.
 
A few weeks ago, just after 7pm, a good friend of mine sent me a video she’d taken on her phone. It was a pretty uneventful shot from her apartment downtown, slowly panning back and forth between the seemingly empty apartment doorways and balconies under a relatively grey sky. But the din echoing down the brick lined urban hallway was unmistakable: applause. Whoops, and cheers, and someone somewhere was even banging a pot. “And that,” she remarked matter of factly, “is for you”. I hadn’t been on a stage in months, but I had just gotten home from a long shift at the hospital. I felt exhausted, anxious. And though the “for You” was an overstatement, I found myself overwhelmed by the persistent, warm, percussive wave arching through the air, saying to me and my colleagues, ‘We see you. Thank you. We’ve got your back’.
 
I’ve been a nurse for 16 years, an actor for about 10, which means I’ve had more than a decade feeling conflicted about what career I’m pursuing and how. I’ve known what I’ve wanted to be doing since I was a kid, but bills gotta be paid, and a girl’s gotta find her own way. I finally cut ties to my nursing line a little more than a year ago, choosing to go “casual” so I could actually commit to becoming a full time theater artist instead. It was a thrilling and challenging year.
 
You ever held a limbo pose for more than 6 seconds? It’ll break your back…
 
Was. Because that was in The Before Times. We are now in the … not the After Times, but definitely in the Midst Times? Or, more plainly, just in the midst of the shit, really. I mean, sure my neighbour is making focaccia, and I have time to actually water my plants, but I also can’t hug my nephew. Across the board the 2020 season was cut short and the applause stopped: auditions were cancelled, contracts held, and the promise of a new performance year seems to be in indefinite limbo. You ever held a limbo pose for more than 6 seconds? It’ll break your back, or give you a hernia or, at the very least, you start grunting awkwardly and your face turns red. Point being, it’s ugly, uncomfortable, and nobody was built to maintain it for very long.
 
So what do we do in the meantime? Well, I for one became a nurse. Again. For the first time in a long time the tension between my careers has just disappeared. There is no tension if one half of the rope you’re holding on to suddenly releases. So I found myself swinging very directly and quickly in the only direction left for me to go. And I feel engulfed by it. I am lucky to have a Joe Job to return to, I know it. I also get to leave my home several times a week and, by necessity, spend most of my working hours very much within the intimate 2 meter bubble, touching strangers. And maybe even more crucially, this job gives me a sense of purpose, especially now, when so much is uncertain and chaotic.  
 
Aside from the obvious new COVID protocols, not much has foundationally changed in my day to day nursing activities. I will hold a hand, hold a basin, wash a back and wipe a tear, change a dressing, change a diaper, change a bag, lose a pen and use a stethoscope, sound an alarm, ignore the bells, phone a family, write an entry, titrate and bolus, listen, redirect, and try to relieve pain. I will not go more than 30 seconds without being interrupted and will easily clock 14 thousand steps in my eight hours on the floor. On a good day, I will be able to work like a machine without actually becoming one. 
 
I don’t know if I’ve ever felt less like an artist than I do right now. 
 
My world, like many people’s, has gotten very small. Very practical. My needs are simple: food, shelter, health, family. I am craving the tangible because there is so much that remains ephemeral. Maybe that’s why bread baking has become so popular. And home improvement. And gardening. And even doing non-arts work that we’ve traditionally resented. Extra free time notwithstanding, it is a comfort to have warm bread, and flowers, and new paint on your walls. And work to do. 
 
There is artistry simply in being; in getting through.
 
Some people are riding this wave, with their eyes still on the horizon, seeing possibilities and making meaning out of a confusing time. Some have their eyes on the ground, just watching one foot fall in front of the other, wondering how in the world they’ll ever learn to walk again. Many of us are somewhere in between. And, you know, all of it is okay. Wherever you are right now, whatever you’re doing – or not doing – it’s enough. You’re enough. There is artistry simply in being; in getting through. That is our collective experience. And for that may we all, without reservation or cynicism, fuckin’ self high-five. 

HELEN KNIGHT is a Calgary based actor, writer, battle-axe nurse, and amateur container garden enthusiast – though not necessarily in that order. In the After, she’s looking forward to espressos in bougie cafes, crowded festivals and theatres, and long drawn out hugs with friends.

Survey (Edmonton): Participate In The Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre Audience Survey!

 

What are you most certain about in this uncertain time?

Below you’ll find a link to the WWPT (Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre) audience survey about the factors which might determine your attendance at theatre events after ‘re-opening’. Your feedback is invaluable.

We invite you to share your responses to some quick questions to help the theatre community become more certain of what 2020-21 may look like.

Resource (Alberta): The New Experience Economy

 

Organizations in the arts, culture, sports, recreation, tourism and hospitality sectors, all whom rely on live group experiences, are grappling with a new reality. Uncertainty is the only thing that is certain right now and organizations need to be prepared for a change in audience behaviour. The question is what that will look like.
 
If you are in the business of bringing people together for any reason, you need good information to help you make decisions about the viability of future events, strategies for bringing people back and hard facts about how people are going to feel as restrictions are slowly lifted and new economic realities set in.
 
Stone-Olafson, in collaboration with community partners, is conducting a longitudinal study with Alberta audiences to deliver reliable and relevant data about how Albertans are reacting to what’s happening around us.
 
The first wave of research will be launching in May with results reading for subscribers in June.
 
Any organization that signs up will receive free access to the detailed reports and invitations to participation in information sharing workshops, presentations and discussions about the data.
 
Visit the link below for more information and sign up to subscribe.
 
This is initiative is being funded by leaders who see an opportunity to support organizations which bring remarkable experiences to life in communities across Alberta. Thanks to their generous support, there will be free access to research outcomes, workshops and sharing events to help you put the research to work for your teams.