Nova Scotia

Tough times for theatre: Neptune cancels 2020-21 season

Neptune Theatre in Halifax has cancelled its 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which could threaten a large number of jobs.

Halifax theatre looking for ways to make up revenue shortfall

Neptune Theatre in Halifax has cancelled its 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Patrick Callaghan/CBC)

COVID-19 continues to take a toll on Nova Scotia entertainment as Neptune Theatre in Halifax cancels its 2020/21 season.

The company had already cut its season short in March when measures to contain the pandemic were introduced. 

Neptune's general manager Lisa Bugden said the decision was made this week after consultations with the board and public health officials.

"We see ourselves as part of the downtown entertainment district. [COVID-19] has had a tremendous impact across the board," she said.

While it will be a disappointment to theatre-goers, Bugden said it also threatens a large number of jobs.

Neptune has a staff of 64 contract, part-time and hourly employees, with theatre educators and administrative staff accounting for another 82. 

Lisa Bugden, the general manager of the Neptune Theatre Foundation, says Neptune is looking at a three-year recovery plan. (Elizabeth McMillan/CBC)

Over the course of a year, productions also provide employment opportunities for 200 to 300 artists, directors and designers. 

"So many people derive their livelihood from Neptune," said Bugden.

She said the theatre is doing all it can to find new revenue streams to make up for the box-office shortfall. 

Neptune has been looking at developing digital content for patrons and subscribers and has been allowing sponsors to use their digital billboard on Argyle Street as compensation. 

To make up for the temporary closure of the Neptune Theatre School, Bugden said they're looking at digital programming for young people. 

This, she said, would allow young people across the province access to their education programs. 

Neptune Theatre in Halifax is looking for ways to make up for a box-office shortfall. (Pam Berman/CBC)

Other fundraising ventures include a 50/50 raffle and a telethon on Sept. 24.

Bugden said Neptune Theatre is looking at a three-year recovery plan.

She anticipates that even when measures are eased, people will still have some fear about attending theatre productions.

But she said she's not worried about the theatre's future.

"Not if we have anything to do about it," she said. "Our plan is to be stronger and more vibrant than ever."