Performing arts groups throughout B.C. may be able to hold limited-audience events — including plays and live concerts — as soon as May or June, with a possibility of a greater return to normality by the fall and winter.
That was the take-away from a March 30 round table meeting between representatives of some 35 B.C. arts groups, tourism, arts, culture and sports minister Melanie Mark and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, according to Brenda Leadlay, executive director of the BC Alliance for Arts and Culture.
In her April report — issued to members and supporters of the alliance on March 31 — Leadley said there was some reason for cautious optimism from Henry’s remarks during the round table about a return of live events as COVID-19 cases subside.
She warned, however, that “none of this is written in stone, and depends on vaccinations, their efficacy and the continued rise of variants that may change everything.”
In her summary of the conversation, Leadlay said Henry was optimistic that the current phase of restrictions — coupled with the current pace of immunization — might make enough of a difference to permit a gradual reopening of performing arts venues.
This might include a gradual allowance for gatherings of up to 50 people by May or June, plus possible gatherings this summer for seated outdoor events.
A return to normal gatherings indoors could happen progressively during the fall, Leadlay added, with larger venues possibly returning to full capacity by the end of the year.
But presenting international touring acts would probably be the last category of performing arts to return to B.C., she said.
Leadlay said that while Henry had assured those at the round table that she is a “passionate supporter of the arts,” it’s evident her priority continues to be the threat of the COVID-19 virus.
She said that Bob D’Eith, caucus chair and parliamentary secretary for arts and film in the ministry, will continue to meet with the performing arts sector, while Brian Jonker of the BC Arts Council, and a consortium group of performing arts venues and arts service organizations who have been advocating collectively since the pandemic began, will continue to lobby the PHO to voice the needs of the sector.