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The Golden Ticket Project helping Local Performing Arts Community

It’s no secret that nearly every industry in Peterborough & the Kawarthas has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the arts, entertainment and recreation sector was the hardest hit nationally in 2020, on both indicators (employment numbers and actual hours worked), according to the Canadian Association for the Performing Arts.

Fortunately, the local performing arts community is as creative and resilient as they come.

A fundraising initiative from New Stages Theatre, called the Golden Ticket project, was launched to New Stages’ newsletter subscribers on Dec. 18th. They raised nearly $13,000 in 2 weeks, thanks to the support of the Peterborough Foundation and 77 generous individual donors. This allowed New Stages to give $670 to each of 19 local performing arts groups and venues to help them keep the lights on and survive the pandemic.

Mark Wallace, associate artistic director with New Stages, said what made the Golden Ticket project special is that the funds were given as “future ticket sales” for when it is safe to re-open. These future ticket sales were on the condition that those tickets must be given away for free to people in financial need or people who would not normally have the chance to attend their performances.

“Thanks to the success of this initiative, 513 people in Peterborough & the Kawarthas will have a chance to attend a live performance for free,” Wallace said. “The Golden Ticket offered the dual benefit of providing immediate cash stimulus to cash-strapped organizations, while providing opportunities for new audiences to engage with the performing arts.”

Wallace said while this has been the toughest year in memory for the people working in the performing arts, they won’t soon forget the generosity of so many people, organizations, foundations, and people in government who want to help keep the arts alive.

“On our end, we’re committed to making live performance happen again as soon as we can. Some arts groups are hosting innovative virtual events,” he explained. “Some will use the warmer summer months to host safe, small outdoor events. We need to keep supporting the indoor venues so that we’ll have still have somewhere to go when this all over. We’re doing all we can to hang in and come back strong, and we’re more determined than ever to bring high-quality arts events to the great community of Peterborough and the Kawarthas.”

Peterborough Performing Arts Recovery Alliance

The Canadian Association for the Performing Arts also reports that the arts, entertainment and recreation sector remains the furthest away from recovery, on both indicators.

To add to that reality is the fact that ‘Arts, Recreation & Information’ businesses face the highest risk of closing as a result of COVID-19. As many as 30% (10,800) were actively considering permanent closure in July.

In the summer of 2020, an informal alliance of 19 local performing arts organizations and venues (Peterborough Performing Arts Recovery Alliance) gathered to strategize how they could help one another survive the pandemic. Working closely with the Electric City Culture Council (EC3), they raised awareness about the severity of the situation with the community and advocated with the City of Peterborough, the Province, and the Federal government to provide support to help make it through those difficult months.

“As everyone knows, live music and performing arts events have been all but completely halted due to the pandemic with devastating financial impact on the local arts community, particularly on performing arts venues,” Wallace said.

“While a return to live performance remains out of reach, at least in the short term, it’s been wonderful to see the way our local community has stepped up to support the performing arts… and all the creative ways that arts groups are raising funds. From bottle drives for the Theatre on King, to the “All the World is not a Stage” video series led by Megan Murphy to support the Arts Alive Fund (a major EC3-Community Foundation initiative), we’re blessed with incredible support from the people of Peterborough & the Kawarthas, whom we know can’t wait until the day they can safely get back into a darkened venue to see some theatre, live music, or dance.”

Here are some other awesome events that the local performing arts community is creativity putting on through the pandemic:

  • Public Energy with Beau Dixon is doing the first event in Market Hall since March 2020, an exciting live-streamed theatre reading
  • The Verandah Society (Kate Suhr and Meg Murphy) were set to perform a St Patrick’s day play in-person at Showplace but they have gone virtual due to the city being in the red zone.

Further CAPACOA data on the national plight of the performing arts in 2020:

  1. Arts organizations that operate a facility are disproportionately impacted by the loss of revenue from ticket sales and rentals (45%) compared with organizations without a facility (24%). Only 13% of organizations with a facility believe they can survive more than 9 months in “maintenance” mode, compared to 38% for organizations without a facility.
  2. Two-thirds (65%) of festivals and events will not return next year or are uncertain whether they can return if there is not a bailout program created to wipeout deficits created by the impacts of COVID-19.

Want to read up more on what the local performing arts community is coming together through the pandemic? Here are some other articles on PPARA and Golden Ticket:


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