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THE SCOOP | Shock As Theatre Ontario Announces Pending Closure After 48 Years Of Supporting Theatrical Community

By Anya Wassenberg on October 4, 2019

Theatre Ontario's Next Generation Showcase, 2017
Theatre Ontario’s Next Generation Showcase in happier times, 2017 (Photo : Courtesy Theatre Ontario Facebook)

Ontario’s theatre community is in shock after the sudden news that Theatre Ontario will shut down in the near future, pending a vote by members. The organization posted the announcement October 3 on social media.

According to the announcement, the organization’s financial situation was already in a precarious state after several years of diminishing support. The recent cutbacks to the Ontario Arts Council, which resulted in an 8 percent decrease in operational funding, as well as the outright cancellation of funding for their Professional Theatre Training Program, and the Youth Theatre Training Program, appear to be the final nail in the coffin.

Along with the program cancellations, any programs currently in progress will be under review, which includes Next Generation Showcase 2020, Festival 2020, and Adjudicator Professional Development, among others.

The announcement took Ontario’s tightly knit theatre community by surprise, and many expressed their shock and sadness on the organization’s Facebook page, and on other social media. Organizers of the 2020 Theatre Ontario Festival in Sault Ste Marie were left not knowing whether their event would go forward, and those who expressed their dismay went far beyond Ontario’s borders. Impromptu Improv of Florida called the news “a travesty”.

Theatre Ontario has been working to support the theatrical community in the province for 48 years. The closure will mean the permanent layoff of two full-time staff, who the announcement notes, “are Theatre Ontario’s backbone and heart and who have gone above and beyond to make the organization function at a high level.”

The organization works with theatre companies and professionals at all levels, including amateur, professional, and educational, with advocacy, education, and training, and has run many programs to that ending, including the Talent Bank, and Summer Theatre Intensive.

A special member’s meeting will be held on October 26, with instructions to be distributed to voting members by October 16.


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