The Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ont., has announced that it is pulling the plug on its 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Sadly, we are going to have to come to terms with the fact that we are going to have to put our glorious 2020 season on hold,” artistic director Antoni Cimolino said in a video posted to Twitter.
“We want to be back on our stages as soon as possible, but it’s clear we won’t be able to do that until we get a signal from government saying that we will be safe and that you will be safe and that practically means we are probably going to have to delay our 2020 offerings until 2021.”
The festival says it is open to putting something on stage in the fall or winter if the opportunity presents itself.
“If we do have the ability to perform something this coming fall or winter, we will certainly let you know,” Cimolino said. “Wouldn’t it be glorious to be back together in the fall and be able to see a play again?”
The festival, which has been in operation since 1953, was initially created to provide an economic boost to the area.
Cimolino says it now brings $135 million in economic activity to the area.
“It is a terrible irony: the Stratford Festival was started in 1953 to save the city of Stratford from economic disaster, and now its closure in the face of this pandemic poses its own economic devastation for the region,” Cimolino said in a statement.
“This is a crushing announcement, for which we at once feel terrible responsibility and yet is entirely beyond our control.”
A fourth theatre was to have opened this summer and is said to be 98 per cent complete.
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“Our disappointment at not being able to open the new theatre and dedicate it to our founder, Tom Patterson, on what would have been his 100th birthday, on June 11, is monumental, as is the loss of these 15 productions, which our artists were bringing to such beautiful fruition,” Cimolino said.
“Sadly, we have to come to terms with the fact that, as it relies on large public gatherings, theatre will be one of the last sectors to recover from this pandemic,” Cimolino said.
A spokesperson for the festival told Global News that the cancellation will create a $40-million shortfall in its budget.
It will be asking the government to fill half the void while also hoping donations will fill the rest.
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