Some live theatre resumes in Vancouver, but music venues continue to struggle

Tuesday’s performance of Trionfi Amore at the Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver is sold out –- but only to 30 people.

"It will feel like you're sitting in the living room, but it's really big," said the centre’s Donna Spencer.

It will be the first show with a live audience at the Firehall since mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic ended its performance season early.

“We have to get back to work, people are out of work and it is creating a real crisis," Spencer said.

She explained during the Dancing on the Edge Festival guests will have to purchase their tickets online. Guests will be given masks and made to sit in special spaced-out seats. The theatre will also install Plexiglas at its bar.

Meanwhile, other venues in Vancouver like the Rickshaw Theatre, which stages live music concerts, continue to be miles away from reopening.

“Right now when you have zero revenue but you still have operating cost you are just hemorrhaging cash,” said Mo Tarmohamed.

The owner and operator of the Rickshaw explained that because of the style of performances his venue puts on, the theatre will not be able to open despite the latest phase of reopening.

According to the province, music concerts fall under Phase 4 of its restart plan, when it says there must be either a vaccine or a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases around the world.

“At some point we won't have the means to support ourselves without funding,” Tarmohamed said. “There are venues that are shutting down."

He and other music venues owners are encouraging people to write to their local MPs and to Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault asking for federal emergency funding.

A statement from BC Tourism minster Lisa Beare on Saturday said the provincial government is advancing more than $15-million to organizations throughout B.C.

“Art and culture bring people together and have the ability to help us heal. Our government is committed to supporting artists through the pandemic and to help them come back strong,” Beare added.