Last Monday, if you’d told me that we’d be postponing concerts by the end of the week, I wouldn’t have believed you. It felt like the pandemic was something happening elsewhere, not here. It didn’t really seem real for us.
But as the week progressed, each hour brought new news. First the JUNOs (heartbreaking as the SSO was going to be playing with Jann Arden!). Then we had to postpone our Accent with the SSO concert because we weren’t able to get all six of the groups members here. Then the last few shows of our SaskTel Symphony in Schools Tour was cancelled. Then we postponed our Mozart Reimagined project with Saskatoon Opera and FreeFlow Dance. And our Music Talk at McNally for March 31st has been cancelled. And I’m sure more is on the way.
As of this morning, we are still taking things hour by hour. We’re looking ahead to the programming planned for the next few weeks and realizing that there are more postponements and cancellations in sight.
Some of these events will have to be cancelled, but the goal for us is to reschedule some of the events for a future date. I have no idea when, but I do know that we want to keep sharing music – and I have two reasons why I feel strongly we need to reschedule.
Firstly, our musicians. We are all grateful to be able to do our part in social distancing to try and slow the spread of COVID-19, but these measures will be devastating to our local musicians. They already have been. It highlights how exceptionally fragile working in the arts is. We all love to reap the benefits of having artists in our communities, but we have yet to find a way to ensure their stability as members of our communities. It’s something that we have to work on going forward, but more importantly, its something that we’re starring in the face right now. Most musicians in our community do not qualify for EI, and many of them will see a reduction or total loss of work.
On top of that, the financial risk this poses to the SSO, and all arts organizations, is drastic. My administrative team is working non-stop on trying to figure out what we can do. How do we support our musicians and remain afloat? Can we find ways to soften the blow? And how do we even keep our doors open if the remainder of the season is shuttered?
The second reason I have for wanting to reschedule is that when the time comes for us to end social distancing, the need for us all to come together to participate in the act of making music will be key to finding our identity as a community again. We will need to be social, and a concert is one of the most joyous ways to come together and be part of something again. It will help us all rebuild emotionally and mentally after these strange days.
All of the tickets held to a postponed event will be honoured – we want to have you there when we get music back on its feet in Saskatoon. If you want you can ask for a refund as well, or you can choose to donate your purchased ticket to the SSO. We’ve had a number of people do this already, and it means the world to us – it helps us continue to operate in this very difficult time and let’s us give you a tax receipt for your support.
The last few days have been very difficult, but I have been overwhelmed by supporters of the SSO reaching out wanting to help. I can not tell you how wonderful it feels to know that people are thinking of their orchestra at this time. I’ve been humbled by the people phoning in to make donations. I’ve been touched to see the care and respect our community has for its music makers.
Please keep subscribing to our 90th season – this fall will be an even bigger celebration than we could have expected, so we want to share that with you! Your subscription helps the SSO stay stable moving beyond this fiscal year.
And the most meaningful help is making a donation. This time of year is our largest in terms of the donations we receive – if donations drop off on top of losing ticket revenues, it will spell disaster for your SSO.
None of us ever imagined this kind of global scenario would play out – and all of us are feeling the impact. Social distancing and self-isolation are needed right now. But a time will come when we will need the communion of being together again to make music, and those will be such wonderful events.
Please support your local symphony – we all need you more than ever.
Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra