The Toronto Fringe performing arts festival is cancelling this year’s event due to COVID-19. The 32-year-old festival issued a statement this morning.
“It seems unbelievable that this staple of the Toronto arts community will not happen this summer,” says Lucy Eveleigh, executive director of the Toronto Fringe. “The Fringe is a platform for so many, especially for those who do not always have access to present their work. It is so disappointing that these folks will not get to share their stories this year. We know we will be back to provide that platform again, along with many other festivals, events, and theatres that have had to pause. But for now, we are going to be sad for a little bit, along with all of you.”
This will be the first time the festival, which brings together over 1,100 artists and 140 shows, has been cancelled in 32 years.
The press released states that the “safety of our artists, staff, volunteers, and audience is our top priority as we navigate this difficult time, which is why the 2020 festival cannot move forward as planned.”
When Toronto Public Health announced on April 1 that there would be 12 more weeks of social distancing and that all public events in the city were cancelled, the writing was on the wall, even if the July dates of the festival were beyond that period. They would be unable to hold rehearsals or prepare in any meaningful way.
“We take the health and safety of festival participants and patrons very seriously, and know that this decision is in everyone’s best interest,” says Jason Murray, board chair of Toronto Fringe. “At this time, among other things, let’s focus on health and wellbeing. Let’s also hold on to the possibility that goodwill can come from this difficult time—more meaningful connections; world governments putting the needs of people first; and broader acceptance that education, research, and healthcare, as well as learning and experiencing through the arts, are all central to enhancing life.”
The financial impact of the cancellation is described as “devastating.”
“You will be hearing more from us in the coming weeks about programs and services we will set up for members of our community, particularly the artists affected by the cancellation of the festival.”
The organization said, it is regrouping and creating a new set of goals for 2020 and moving forward. It asks that Fringe lovers should “keep the original dates of July 1 -12 in planners – we will have some kind of Fringe spirit to share with you this summer, so stay tuned.”
To make a donation to the Toronto Fringe go here.