Stage Door News
London, ON: The Grand Theatre postpones its 2020/21 season
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Today, the Grand Theatre announced that the season scheduled to commence in October 2020 will be postponed until the fall of 2021. This announcement impacts not only the Grand’s programmed season of theatre on its two stages, but also the popular Jeans ‘n Classics concert series as well as the numerous community partners who use the Grand stages throughout the year. The postponement also impacts the planned cross-Canada tour of Cabaret.
“The timeline for a safe return to live performance events in the wake of COVID-19 continues to be pushed ahead. With a new prediction of January 2021, we believe that even this date will keep moving further into the future. The health of our staff, guest artists, patrons and volunteers remains our priority. Planning large productions such as ours against unknown timing is very difficult and financially too risky. For all of these reasons, we would rather be safe than sorry,” noted Dennis Garnhum, Artistic Director of the Grand.
Garnhum continued, “We understand the impact this decision will have on those that rely on the Grand for employment in the creative sector, including our own staff. It is heartbreaking to make the calls to the artists and designers that were contracted for the coming season and just as difficult to tell our staff who are passionate about their work at the Grand. Their collective grace and messages of support have been beautiful. Even in these darkest of times, their positivity and love for the Grand affirms for me why live theatre is so important and necessary in our community.”
The postponement of the season to the fall of 2021, what the theatre is calling A GRAND INTERMISSION, is also providing the Board and Leadership teams with an opportunity to listen, to learn and more importantly to take action toward the systemic racism that exists within Canadian theatre companies, including the Grand.
“Hearing the voices and consulting with the BIPOC communities both within and outside of the arts and culture construct, we will be examining the theatre through a different lens and making changes to all aspects of what we do at the Grand - from what we program on our stages, how we engage with BIPOC audiences, Board and Senior Leadership recruitment and more. We know that statements of support mean nothing without action and it is action to which we are committed,” said Garnhum.
This period of extended intermission, will also see the planned lobby renovations taking place, that had been postponed from this Spring due to COVID-19 restrictions. “There are specific funds that have been directed to the renovation that can only be used for this purpose. Until we are ready to produce and present on our stages and welcome our audiences back, we feel that this is the best possible use of the time,” stated Deb Harvey, Executive Director. The work is expected to take six months to complete.
Deb also noted, “We are acutely aware of the many businesses and services that benefit from having a full season of productions on our two stages, including the popular Jeans ‘n Classics series of concerts. The Grand is also used as rental venue for theatres, businesses and organizations throughout the year. We report each year at our Annual Meetings of the significant economic impact of the Grand for London. From hotel and dining partners to retail and building supply companies – we know that this decision is another blow to our local economy.”
A working group has been established to develop a plan to keep Londoners engaged and entertained through this period of intermission. An announcement of those plans will follow in coming weeks.
“We’ve pulled together a team of creative minds to help build this intermission programming. I am really excited about our initial online brainstorming sessions. I am not going to give any of our ideas away at this point, but I can tell you whatever we do will be innovative, inclusive, thought-provoking, and joyful,” said Garnhum.
Garnhum expressed sincere, cautiously optimistic and transparent hopes for the future of the Grand and live theatre in Canada.
“Both Deb and I have no doubt that the Grand Theatre can and will survive this pandemic period and in the end we will be a better theatre company as a result. I have personally lived an entire life believing and witnessing the power of live theatre. We will always need to gather and share stories. No matter how powerful and delightful binging and streaming shows can be it will never replace live theatre.
“The survival of the Grand will not be easy and will rely on the support of our community, our donors, our sponsors and our community partners. One of the things I certainly have come to love about the Grand audiences is their loyalty and ownership. The Grand belongs to all Londoners and now more now than ever, there are stories to tell. Using this time to grow our audiences and reach out beyond our current patron base is an opportunity of which we will take full advantage. We are confident that when Londoners can return safely, they will - because this theatre belongs to them.”
Patrons who had already subscribed to the 2020/21 season and the 2020/21 Jeans ‘n Classics series have been asked to consider donating the value of their tickets back to the theatre. Credits and full refunds will also be provided as an option.
About the Grand Theatre – World Curious. London Proud.
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum and Executive Director
Deb Harvey, the Grand is a leading cultural hub located in the heart of downtown London, Ontario. The Grand offers diverse, relevant, and original stories from around the globe through collaborations with national and international performing arts organizations and is committed to developing, producing, and premiering original stories through COMPASS New Play Development program. The Grand supports educational programming through initiatives like The High School Project, the only program of its kind in North America. The Grand’s season runs from September to May.
Illustratio:. Image for Annie. © 2019 Scott McKowen.