toronto venues

This is how live music and entertainment venues could safely reopen in Toronto

Concerts, plays, and everything in between seem to sadly be a thing of the past as venues and theatres remain closed and the spread of COVID-19 continues. 

However, an initiative called #Lights-on: Recovery and Reboot in Entertainment has recently put forth an online guide of how live music and entertainment venues could safely reopen in Toronto when the time is right.

According to a press release, "the #Lights-on Venue Reopening Guide is a collaborative effort of live entertainment organizations and individuals that reviewed existing published materials and best practices to build a digital resource that venues, and venue organizers can use to safely reopen."

First off, the guide suggests having a COVID-19 coordinator who "will need to have detailed knowledge of all public and occupational health and safety requirements, and a deep understanding of all company-related COVID-19 plans and processes in all areas of the workplace."

They also reccomend that venues do extensive contact tracing by collecting information from all workers and patrons and not relying on ticketing systems.

Besides this, the guide stresses workplace screening, staff COVID training, PPE (if deemed necessary), face coverings, and having a plan if someone does contract the virus. 

While keeping patrons safe is important, so is keeping artists safe. 

To do this, organizers suggest properly maintaining the wardrobe and makeup area, including limiting the number of people in the area and limiting wardrobe changes

They also say that casting and table reads should be done virtually and reccommend not sharing microphones or instruments.

The guide goes on to help venues learn how to deal with dressing rooms and rehearsal halls, patron communication, kitchen and food prep areas, and more.

The Lights-On initiative includes a series of outreach activities organized by Ryerson's School of Creative Industries, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Foundation, with support from the City of Toronto, Mass Culture, TO Live, Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, SOCAN, and the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts to help the live entertainment sector in its recovery process. 

Part of this is offering venues of 4,000 seats or less a guideline of how to safely reopen during COVID-19. 

Although Toronto is currently in the Red-Control level of the province's COVID-19 framework, the guide will help venues prepare for reopening once we move out of the red zone.

"It updates as changes happen," Christopher Gibbs, chair of Creative Indsutries at Ryerson Unversity told blogTO, noting that the guide is not a stagnant PDF.

"The rules on this probably have significantly changed four or five times in the three or four months since we've started working on this."

Ultimately, though, Gibbs said the guide will show that there is a safe way for these venues to open.

"It's really important that hopefully decision makers in the public policy realize that theatres and public performance facilities, when we they do get a chance to open, can open safely," Gibbs said.

"What's kind of tragic is that all the types of business that are able to open - things like churches can have 30 per cent of their capacity - but theatres and performing arts venues, which follow procedures like we're outlining here, aren't able to open."

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim


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