June is usually an incredible month in Toronto when it comes to cultural events. There is Luminato and the Toronto Jazz Festival to Pride Toronto, North by Northeast and many more. These festivals bring millions of visitors to the city and come with a huge economic impact.
These festivals offer great opportunities for artists, create a slew of jobs and represent one of the many fantastic reasons people adore living in Toronto. Now, COVID-19 could put an end to all of it, and that is going to cause a lot of pain, both economically as well as in the soul of the city.
Today, the Luminato Festival, which was to run June 11-28, announced it is cancelling the entire festival this year. It’s a particularly meaningful move given Luminato was created to help the city come back from the SARS epidemic.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, with the health and well-being of our artists, staff and volunteers, and audiences above everything else in minds, it is with great sadness we announce the cancellation of Luminato Festival Toronto 2020.
— Luminato Festival Toronto (@Luminato) March 26, 2020
The Luminato statement, in part, reads:
“We have followed guidance from the City, Provincial and Federal governments very closely, and have been in contact with our colleagues in other cultural organizations, as well as with the artists and venue partners in our 2020 Festival. We have tried to make our best estimate of the practicality of going ahead with our 14th festival this June, but after all of that it is clear that Luminato 2020 is sadly not to be.”
A much larger economic hit may be coming if other June festivals such as Pride Toronto and the Toronto Jazz Festival shut down for the year.
In 2019, Pride saw 1.7 million visitors that created $374 million of economic activity. It is huge for the city for many reasons. Pride Month is set to begin June 1 but the actual Festival Weekend including the parade attended by more than a million people isn’t until the end of the month June 26-28.
Pride Toronto has not yet cancelled the festival, and are in a holding pattern as of the last update, waiting to get word on how best to proceed from public health authorities.
Pride Toronto COVID-19 Community Update; We will follow guidance from public health authorities on if and how to hold the Festival. Our primary concern is the safety of our community members, staff, volunteers, & the public. For a complete update, visit https://t.co/zEJd3jCe2v pic.twitter.com/5DeY00pyzM
— Pride Toronto (@PrideToronto) March 18, 2020
The Toronto Jazz Festival, which has not announced any cancellations yet, also has some incredible concerts on tap this year including headliners such as Smokey Robinson, Herbie Hancock, and Femi Kuti. The festival is slated to run June 18-28 in venues across the city with a large number of events taking place on outdoor and indoor stages in Yorkville.
An 80th birthday celebration! 🎂🎉🎁
— Toronto Jazz Fest (@TorontoJazzFest) March 10, 2020
North by Northeast is also scheduled to take place in downtown Toronto June 12-21, although no line-up has been announced.