September 21, 2020  

Today marks the official start of autumn 2020, and if the COVID-19 pandemic had not pressed pause on human activities six months ago, this would have been the week in which Toronto’s illustrious and vibrant theatre, dance and opera companies would have collectively launched the 2020-21 season. And what a season it would have been: hundreds of plays, musicals, dances and operas playing to millions of audience members. 

Today the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA), an association that represents all the professional performing arts companies in our city, released some interesting statistics: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to Toronto’s theatre community to date is 25,000 cancelled or postponed public performances. That equates to $500 million in lost ticket sales and 20 million lost audience members. 

But theatre people are creative and resilient. They will find a way of bringing back the city’s robust and exciting theatre scene, but only when the time is right.

To support this community, TAPA also launched today an initiative to celebrate artists and audiences. I Miss Live Theatre TO — #iMissLiveTheatreTO — is an online campaign that encourages audience members to declare their love of the city’s performing arts by sharing some of their favourite Toronto theatre moments of the past. 

Here’s how you can participate:

  • Everyone has unforgettable live performing arts experiences. Recalling these magical moments will evoke joy and generate hope and excitement for the triumphant return of the performing arts. 
  • Use a cellphone to record a brief video message of YOUR FAVOURITE TORONTO THEATRE MOMENT...
  • Begin your recording with the word “When” and then recall a favourite show, a specific moment in a show (such as a performance or design element — anything that stood out for you), or a specific tradition surrounding going to the theatre (e.g. the moment when the lights go down). Make sure the message captures the feeling that the moment brought you.
  • Upload your message (YouTube video link) to mirvish.com/i-miss-live-theatre-to. It’s easy to do, just follow the instructions.
  • The most original and creative video messages will be shared in Meanwhile #23, which will be published on Tuesday, September 29. Each person whose video is chosen will receive a $100 Mirvish Gift Card, which can be used for the purchase of tickets to future shows.

This local initiative is related to another one that is national.  On Tuesday, September 22 all public venues across the country — theatres, concert halls, attractions, convention centres, banquet halls, event spaces, anywhere and everywhere where people gather for special events — will paint Canada red.  #LightUpLive is the name of this campaign. All participating venues will turn their marquee lights and other illuminated signs red, beginning one hour after sundown. The idea is to create a ribbon of red that will stretch across the country, hour by hour as the earth spins east and darkness falls, beginning in St. John’s, NL and ending in Victoria, BC.

In Toronto, the CN Tower, the Rogers Centre, Roy Thomson Hall, the Mirvish theatres and many other venues will be a festive red. It promises to be quite a sight. More information and resources can be found at lightuplive.ca/ and liveeventcommunity.org/.

While we all miss live theatre, at Mirvish we especially miss you, our audience. We look forward to welcoming you back to our theatres when the time is right. Stay tuned for more updates soon.