A summit took place last Thursday between industry leaders from across the arts and hospitality sector, laying out key principles for a recovery plan.
The attendees were from organisations including the Royal Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall, Society of London Theatre, UKHospitality, and Heart of London Business Alliance, as well as Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster.
All warned of the dire set of circumstances facing the industry – the Royal Albert Hall will only survive until April next year before being forced to fold, while the Royal Opera House’s reserves will not last beyond autumn.
The summit provided a number of key recovery solutions. A lot of these were to do with social distancing – how to make sure that any practical measures are both temporary and able to restore audience confidence. Looking abroad for practical solutions was vital, according to Aiken.
According to the summit, “the theatre industry is talking to government about a securing an urgent injection of money to keep it going.” An agreed-upon value of £300m for every three months that venues are closed would save the sector across the whole of the UK. One model, including the use of repayable arts bonds, was suggested.
The summit also urged the government to release some form of hypothetical timeline for the reopening of large venues. As noted, the time between autumn and Christmas is vital for theatre as it can provide massive profits that in turn help nearby pubs, bars and hotels. Guidance, according to Aiken and others, is needed by the beginning of July.
Earlier this year, Heritage Winnipeg held its 35th Annual Preservation Awards for exceptional heritage projects.
Because the awards were made a month before the mid-March government-mandated shutdowns, Heritage Winnipeg is one of the few Canadian industry associations to have been able to present its awards in this year’s winter/spring season.
Four buildings received a 2020 Conservation Award for Excellence: Fortune Building (230 Main St.); Westminster United Church (745 Westminster Ave.); Redeemed Christian Church of God (635 Sargent Ave.); and St. John’s Library (500 Salter St.).
Built in 1882, the Fortune Building is a historic commercial building that is well known to Winnipeggers.
It has the distinction of being the fifth oldest building in the city’s downtown. The oldest is the Winnipeg Hotel, built in 1872, and immediately south of the Fortune on Main Street.
In 1883, the Fortune was sold to Alexander Macdonald, who immediately built a near-identical addition, sometimes referred to as the Macdonald Building, on the south side of the structure.
Jilmark Construction Inc. won for managing the heritage construction project.
“The project had many challenges, because we had to recreate the original building before it had fallen into disrepair,” said Jilmark project manager David Regehr-Wiens.
The challenges included shoring up the adjacent Macdonald Building, which was leaning to one side; installing modern sprinkler and HVAC systems; replacing the old stairways with new ones; adding elevators; making everything wheelchair accessible; and adhering to the new Winnipeg Building Code.
Alpha Masonry Ltd. was recognized for its masonry work on the building’s exterior and for its “sympathetic undertaking” of the removal of paint, the restoration work of the exterior brick and the extensive repointing.
“We did the project out of passion,” said Konstantinos Kotoulas, president of Alpha Masonry Ltd. “It took a lot of work and a long time, a year-and-a-half, off and on.”
Alpha needed to be very careful to not damage the exterior.
“It required five coats of special paint,” said Kotoulas,
At Westminster United Church, Yarrow Sash and Door won for its role in restoring the church’s rose-coloured stained glass window.
Completed in 1912, the church was added to the City of Winnipeg’s List of Historical Resources in 1992.
Beginning in 2018, Westminster United rebuilt the crumbling front steps of the building.
Contractors used materials appropriate to its construction period, while making slight alterations to increase the functionality of the steps and meet modern building codes.
In 2019, work on the steps continued while conservation of the rose window began.
Parts of the wooden frame of the rose window had rotted, compromising its integrity. Westminster United hired Yarrow Sash and Door to repair and restore the window.
Work on the rose window involved stabilizing what was salvageable; replacing what was beyond repair; installing a new dual pane clear exterior window; and touching up the plaster and masonry surrounding the window.
“The window was in a serious state of deterioration after many years of neglect and needed structural and component restoration,” said Yarrow president Michael Neufeld.
Yarrow did a thorough job on the rose window as they repositioned the window and strengthened it with internal reinforcements; removed all the exterior glass stops and replaced them with new stops; removed and restored all the stained glass; removed all the single pane exterior plate glass and changed it with energy-efficient dual pane glazing; and painted the exterior of the refurbished window.
Not every renovation project in Winnipeg is as successful as the 2020 Heritage Winnipeg award winners.
For example, when renovations to the Thomas Scott Memorial Orange Hall at 216 Princess St. were being made, the 110-year-old building started to collapse.
In February 2020, the City of Winnipeg authorized the demolition of the historic building, which was named after a man who was executed by Louis Riel in 1870.
Previous Heritage Winnipeg Preservation Award winners include the Bank of Hamilton, the Pantages Theatre, the Bank of Montreal on Portage and Main, the Walker Theatre, the Hotel Fort Garry and Young United Church.
Heritage Winnipeg executive director Cindy Tugwell said the city has many old buildings that are still in good structural shape and worth restoring to their original condition.
“Winnipeg has a larger store of old buildings than other cities in Western Canada,” said Tugwell. “Before the Panama Canal was completed in 1914, many warehouses were built here when Winnipeg was a major east-west transportation hub and the city had ambitions of becoming the Chicago of the North.”
The city’s Exchange District, located just outside the central business district, has more than 130 heritage buildings in 20 square city blocks.
The recent national arts awards Il-Premju għall-Arti recognised cultural and creative operators for their contributions to the arts. In this third article of the series, The Sunday Times of Malta interviews the winners working in the performing arts. We ask how COVID-19 has impacted their work and what they think the future holds, both for theatre and the wider arts sector.
Since COVID-19 hit, those working in Arts have had to quickly adapt, and theatre producers are no exception.
Arts Council Malta’s award winners were asked what it meant to be recognised for the quality of their work, how COVID-19 is affecting this work, and how the situation might impact the quality and range of artistic production in the sector as a whole.
Both winners involved in theatre received two awards each. Here’s what they said.
Sean Buhagiar, artistic director of Teatru Malta, winner in the categories of Best Work for Young Audiences and the Award for Innovation.
The award is what it is, an award. I believe the greatest attribute of such a national award is posterity; in terms of historical and academic research. To me, the artistic validity of art is never really measured by awards, though admittedly it does help to sell the art.
The online ceremony obviously lacked the panache of the live experience, however it was an endearing feeling to know that the sector was coming together for an online experience. It definitely felt strange to attend an award ceremony in jammies.
We are still discovering how it will change and still experiencing the impact. We can’t skin a bear before we catch it. Theatre does not happen in a vacuum, it happens inside an economy, within social constructs and the state of wellbeing of people who make it and experience it. Simon McBurney, a contemporary theatre director recently stated that it is clear, above everything else, that we need to begin again, and I tend to agree. We are at the beginning, and in many ways we have to start again. For theatre, this can also be a reflection period and not necessarily an ‘in development’ period. I can also state the obvious: the impact is gargantuan.
Trikki Trakki Youth Theatre Festival by Teatru Malta, winner in the category of Best Work for Young Audiences.
I recently read a letter which Eugenio Barba, an old and wise theatre-maker and scholar whom I have worked with, wrote to a friend during lockdown. He asked whether this pandemic is meant to evolve theatre or bring it back to its roots. Evolution also means that the weakest do not survive, but his argument was that the strongest are the ones that make theatre because of the savage necessity to do so. He compared this current period to the derangement photography brought to painters, what film did to theatre-makers.
GawGaw, A Panto in the Dark by Teatru Malta, winner of the Award for Innovation.
I feel that these thoughts, like thoughts of other theatre-makers, are very profound and merit more thought than I can answer here. In short, yes I am sure that it will affect both the quality and the quantity. I don’t know how, but I am sure of one thing: theatre will survive, and that after this, the arts will be even more necessary.
Nominations for Premju għall-Arti 2021 are now open at www.premju.mt.
André Agius, Audience’s Choice winner and Young Artist of the Year
In terms of my personal award, of course it is an achievement to be recognised, following last year’s nomination. It was a crucial year in my development, particularly in terms of the fact that I moved to another country to read for a master’s degree in an area which for the Maltese theatre sector is ‘new’, in terms of those who are actually trained and specialised within it. So this award has affirmed the decision taken.
In terms of 2.0 Watts in the Dark, it is the utmost satisfaction to see your name next to an original created work. This is a production which involved a six-month process of working together with an enthusiastic group, through researching, conceiving and devising, premiering, re-devising and then performing to sold-out houses at the Notte Bianca festival. Its subject matter is close to my heart, and seeing as it won the Audience Choice Award, it must have been close to the heart of those who voted as well.
That being said, I would say this is an encouragement to keep improving and further fuel the impulse to continue on this development track, through creating work which I am passionate about; side by side with my holistic growth as an artist.
The UK National Theatre artistic director compared it to the post-plague boom, known as the restoration period – but we cannot yet predict that history will repeat itself– André Agius
I would say the main impact COVID-19 has had on me professionally, is that it has made what I thought was going to be a straightforward year developing in directing, within my master’s in Edinburgh, into something else. Thankfully it has only affected the final third of my first year, but with regard to my second year it is still unknown how things will develop and change.
2.0 Watts in the Dark by André Agius, winner of the Audience’s Choice award
I would say that I’m thankful that my lecturers have been able to adapt so we are able to complete the first year online. I think more than anything I feel that it’s disrupted the full potential of what was meant to be a year-long development, not only in terms of the master’s, but also in being exposed to a new and exciting theatre sector; including the opportunity to watch new and innovative work, meet new people and gain further perspectives.
On the other hand, having been proactive while in Edinburgh has opened up the opportunity to keep working with two theatre companies: one based in Edinburgh and another in Dumfries, remotely. This way, I can still feel like my development hasn’t been hindered as much.
I think it is a bit early to understand and predict the full extent that COVID-19 will have on the Arts in general, it is only after a long period of time has passed that we will be able to look back and reflect on the full extent and its result.
The UK National Theatre artistic director compared it to the post-plague boom, known as the restoration period – but we cannot yet predict that history will repeat itself. I think more than anything this has made clear the importance of two elements: high-quality documentation and a strong community outreach.
It became clear that those companies and productions that had prioritised both of these had an edge over others, where the moment that people moved online, the audience was already aware of the quality they would be getting when companies started pushing their online productions; thus they didn’t have to build a new audience. A case in point are the weekly number of viewers that tune in to the UK’s National Theatre at home initiative, which is modelled on the NTLive, but suited for your living room.
Although this could be the answer that not many are expecting, I think for the local theatre scene this woeful situation could be of benefit. I think it is a time to reflect, re-evaluate and refocus our future visions and choices in programming.
Given that audiences (and safety restrictions from the authorities) might hinder the gathering of an audience in a theatre space for some time, we need to be prepared that when the time comes, there is a rebuilding in gaining the confidence of our audiences; and this can only be done with the right product – both artistic and economical.
The reality is that audiences have also felt the economical strain this period has brought with it; and when the time comes, the theatre needs to respect that reluctance for audiences to spend money on live entertainment week-in, week-out.
This, in turn, will, of course, have a domino effect on our theatre budgets, where audience quotas will not be as predictable – but I invite theatre companies, artistic directors and programme managers to look back to the foundation of theatre and take this as a chance to restore the local theatre scene, to focus on attracting audiences, not through elaborate visuals and designs, but through the narrative and the message of the piece, as this should be the real attraction.
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Driven to penury, in the aftermath of the lockdown, backstage artistes appeal to PMC to reopen theatres. Commissioner mulls plans with 50 per cent capacity
Performing artistes may have found a means of survival during the lockdown in the over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms and burgeoning number of entertainment-oriented broadcast channels, but the locked theatres has robbed the livelihood of all those involved in backstage support. Hapless, these backstage artistes have now approached the Pune municipal commissioner, pleading that a few theatres be reopened to restore their incomes to some extent.
Pune, as the cultural capital of Maharashtra, has had a thriving theatre movement and other performing arts scene, musical concerts being a major draw. Many an actor, director and playwright rose to national reckoning from the city’s illustrious auditoriums. While they did not share the spotlight, the backstage artistes have played a critical role in building the city’s theatre culture. But with the stage bereft of any act, their creativity has no outlet and the loss of their vocation has broken their back, financially.
Ranjeet Sonavale, who’s made a living from building props for the stage, is the sole breadwinner for his family of four. “Summer vacation is a peak season for theatres. My monthly income during this season ranged around Rs 20,000. But this year, I’ve not made a penny due to the lockdown,” he cried.
Backstage players such as Ranjeet Sonavale (below) who used to make Rs 20,000 per month in the past, have not earned a single penny over the last few months. Civic body considers the next best option in everyone’s interest
Surviving on his savings for now, he is not sure how long he can pull on. “Unlike the actors and directors, we do not have huge bank balance to fall back on. Our paltry savings have seen us through the past two months, but it cannot sustain for long. Even moneylenders have begun seeking repayment,” the artiste pointed out.
Make-up artiste Karan Thatte is also ruing the passing of the peak season without any assignments. This is the time he would be flitting between theatres and sets of movies and serials. But this year, he’s been sitting idle since March. “I have an equated monthly instalment (EMI) on my house to take care of, besides other unavoidable financial commitments. In the absence of any income I am at a loss. Some friends have helped out with some ration kits and other support but how long can I live on such charity. I ardently pray for the lockdown to end so I can earn some money to survive rest of the year,” he told Mirror.
A few of the city’s theatre groups met municipal commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad on Friday to draw his attention to the plight of these backstage artistes, requesting him to initiate some efforts to help them out. “We urged him to open the theatres in the next phase of the lockdown. We are ready to follow all guidelines issued by the administration, but the show must go on,” pleaded Sunil Mahajan, president of Kothrud Natya Parishad.
Confirming the briefing he got, Gaikwad indicated that he was considering the proposition with a positive approach. “I am aware of the financial crisis the backstage artistes have been thrown into by the lockdown. To help them out, we are looking at opening some of the auditoriums with certain restrictions in place. Maybe they can start operating at 50 per cent seating capacity with audience taking alternate seats to ensure physical distancing,” he told Mirror.
He added that they are also looking at the option of staging plays in open space such as public gardens. “We could open some of our gardens to host these plays. We are trying to hook up with some sponsors to hold these plays and help the backstage artistes earn some money,” the commissioner explained.
(Carson City, NV)- Carson City Health and Human Services (CCHHS) is reporting five new positive cases and four additional recoveries of COVID-19 in the Quad-County region. This brings the total number of cases to 187 with 138 recoveries and five deaths, 44 cases remain active.
The new cases are: • A female Carson City resident in her 50’s
• A female Lyon County resident in her 50’s • A male Lyon County resident in his 50’s • A male Lyon County resident under the age of 18 • A male Lyon County resident under the age of 18
Carson City Health and Human Services is working to identify close risk contacts to prevent further spread of the disease. Due to medical privacy requirements and to protect their identity, no further information about the cases will be released.
Carson City -95 Total -26 Active -65 Recovered -4 Deaths
Douglas County -30 Total -5 Active -25 Recovered
Lyon County -61 Total -13 Active -47 Recovered – 1 Death
Storey County -1 Total -0 Active -1 Recovery
TOTAL -187 Total Cases -44 Active -138 Recovered -5 Deaths -3 Hospitalizations
For those who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have questions, call the Quad-County COVID-19 Hotline Monday through Saturday, 8 am to 5 pm. Spanish speakers are available. The phone number is (775) 283-4789.