My name is [Jesse Kumagai], I am the [President and CEO] of [Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall] a [charitable non-profit organization] and I want to tell you about [last night].
[Last evening], [2,500 thrilled Torontonians] gathered in the [Allan Slaight Auditorium] – a space that has brought us together for [more than 127 years.]
Getting to this milestone moment has been a long and challenging journey. When we closed our doors [in the summer of 2018], nobody could have predicted [what fate had in store.]
Because in March of 2020, the world changed.
The pandemic had a significant impact on our [project], stopping [construction] for an extended period of time, then making it so much more challenging when we resumed. It increased [the cost], interrupted our [fundraising], and delayed [our completion] – all while [Roy Thomson Hall sat dark, our business halted in its tracks]. The fact we [opened last night] is something of a minor miracle.
Truthfully, there are a few elements that [are not quite finished], and under the circumstances, we could have [postponed our reopening]. But the pandemic also made us all appreciate just how important [cultural events like this] are to the fabric of our society. And as we [return to the life we once knew], this moment has taken on an entirely new significance. Nothing was going to deter us from [welcoming you back] and who better than [legendary Gordon Lightfoot] to [perform at Massey Hall’s reopening.]
So I hope you’ll [forgive our imperfections], and know that in due course, [every last detail will be brought up to the standard Massey Hall deserves]. And in the coming months, we will be [opening more performance venues], and [spaces for music education, community groups, and of course, artists], to realize the promise of [Allied Music Centre.]
But for now, I want to thank [you all]. I want to thank you for being part of our journey, and our community. You make it all worthwhile.
Let’s make some [new memories at Massey!]
Here’s the thing. I hope you get a bit of a chuckle, or a smile anyway, out of the adjacent treatment of Jesse Kumagai’s heartfelt words, via email, on the occasion of the recent re-opening of Massey Hall. But I hope just as hard that the chuckle isn’t cynical. Because that’s not where I am coming from. It’s hard for me to find anything to be spiteful about here.
What’s not to like, for example, about main floor seating which can be slid under the stage transforming bums-in-plush-seats conventional concert attendance for those who desire it, into standing room for those audiences who cannot imagine being comfortable not moving to the music?
As Marianne McKenna principal architect of the loving and visionary restoration/renovation put it during a sneak peek guided tour for EXCLAIM! the day before the reopening: “[It’s] what “everybody” wants, but the other part of the everybody, they want to sit down. So we can do both. We’ve introduced adaptability, flexibility. This really is a hall for the 21st century.”
And what’s not to like about the transformation of a great hall into a great hub, as Kumagai described it, full of “spaces for music education, community groups, and of course, artists”?
Think about it. If the largest among us in the arts ecosystem can opt for visionary transformation – from concert hall to hub for community arts – then maybe we are truly emerging into a time where support for that ideal will, for once, filter all the way down. Can you imagine some version of Kumagai’s message being delivered when some not-to-distant big day dawns for an arts organization or cause that in every way you are invested in?
I sure can!
David Perlman can be reached, for now anyway, at email@example.com.