One of my pet peeves from my days sitting behind a lighting console was excruciatingly long standbys. Hovering my finger over the top of the go button, waiting to hear that 2 letter word, would drive me nuts making me want to press that button every time I heard any word come out of the Stage Manager’s mouth while in that standby.
Members of Local 58 have had that itchy “go button” finger now for over a year. They have been standing by patiently waiting for a return to meaningful work in the Live Performance Sector in the City of Toronto, as many have in this Sector across North America. We will continue to standby until we get through this, and really there are a few factors that need to happen before “go” is possible.
Companies across the city have been trying to find ways to remain in the public’s mind while not being able to have audiences in their spaces. Many have turned to live streaming of events or productions where while not much money is generated, it accesses the audience base and more importantly in my mind, has been employing at least a few people in the sector. The problem is every time these companies start building momentum, the Ontario Government shuts it down as cases rise. Let me be clear, We need to ensure that everyone working during this pandemic is safe and following all protocols. The last thing I want to see is anyone getting sick at work. But the problem with stopping the ability to stream is that most of these venues were following proper protocol and in the case where actors were involved, the film and television guidelines were being adhered to and everyone was subjected to asymptomatic testing, which is important. But this all got shutdown. If one of the streaming giants wants to film in a venue, they still can, but the live event producers streaming their own content cannot.
I just want to see our employers treated fairly. If there is one set of guidelines, and both a theatre company and a film company are following them, both companies should be able to continue to create content for their audience. Many from the Live Event Sector have written to the Ontario Government appealing for equitable treatment while navigating this pandemic including a coalition of Ontario IATSE Locals (you can read it here). Many of the companies are using streaming as a way to survive.
So we standby again. Waiting to hear that wonderful two letter word once again. More is going to be needed in the coming months to get our sector back up and running including mass vaccinations, but I’ll save that for my next post, or in other words… STANDBY!