Speaking as director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Kingston, we were lucky that our programming, for the most part, fit into the September – April university school year timeframe. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 cancellation involved five concerts and one film screening and it was heartbreaking to cancel these.

As to the question of following through on cancelled concerts, we have paid the artists and provided refunds for tickets to those who wanted them, as our 2020/21 season was already programmed. We had set aside savings from previous seasons that has enabled us to deal with COVID-19 related financial issues. (We had also done this at Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra when I was managing director there, to enable the organization to keep on steady ground with a buffer in funds set aside for future opportunities and challenges, whatever they may be.)

 COVID-19 measures are necessary for our society’s physical health, but they are hitting arts organizations so hard. I am glad that the governments are helping the sector. After all, the arts and cultural industries are a $54 billion industry and major employer/engager in Canada.

The silver lining is that our technological expertise is skyrocketing, and more importantly, I believe the focus on core priorities and valuing the artists and audience as the arts’ core stakeholders can lead to healthy developments in the sector. Baumol’s cost disease (costs rising faster than revenues) was already causing substantial structural issues.  COVID-19 has brought forward the tipping point, hastening the creation of  new structures to support the creation and production of the arts in a different way than has been the case through the latter half of the 20th century to now. Strong developments and innovation arise in hard times as we focus on what matters, and there will always be a great sense of purpose and urgency in making music that will propel us forward. 

As an example, we delayed our Bader and Overton Canadian Cello Competition and have converted it online. It’s currently planned for June 24-27, 2020, but we are waiting to hear about potential conflicts with the semi-finalists’ schedules. All semi-final and final performances will be webcast on CBC. After much testing, we will be using OBN streaming software with VIMEO ingest. We have purchased an excellent stereo microphone kit for each competitor to ensure the full high fidelity sound at the source including a WARM stereo microphone kit and FOCUSRITE USB interface and microphone stands. Jury members will be receiving high fidelity Sennheisser headphones.   Our own technical director has 20 years of extensive recording experience, and for this, we are very grateful (as we are for the support of Bader Philanthropies and CBC throughout the metamorphosis of the competition). 

We are also in the process of creating a digital concert hall for high quality performance films and high-fidelity streaming, and an online summer festival with local musicians. The musicians will be paid, and will go away with a high definition film/audio with which to promote themselves.

To stay in touch, watch our website as announcements come up at www.queensu.ca/theisabel,  and email us at The Isabel box office (IBCPAboxoffice@queensu.ca). We will also be posting on facebook facebook.com/queensuisabel.

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