Toronto Fringe Festival cancelled due to coronavirus

For the first time in its 32-year history, Ontario's biggest performance festival is not happening

The shows won’t go on.

For the first time in its 32-year history, Fringe Toronto has cancelled the 140-show, 12-day event because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ontario’s largest performing arts festival regularly brings in over 1,000 artists and issues 68,000 tickets in the middle of the summer. (This year’s dates were July 1 to 12.)

“It seems unbelievable that this staple of the Toronto arts community will not happen this summer,” said the Toronto Fringe’s executive director Lucy Eveleigh in a press release.

“The Fringe is a platform for so many, especially for those who do not always have access to present their work. It is so disappointing that these folks will not get to share their stories this year. We know we will be back to provide that platform again soon, along with many other festivals, events, and theatres that have had to pause. But for now we are going to be sad for a little bit, along with all of you.”

“The safety of our artists, staff, volunteers, and audience is our top priority as we navigate this difficult time, which is why the 2020 festival cannot move forward as planned,” read the release. “In addition, Toronto Public Health’s announcement on April 1 regarding a timeline of 12 weeks of continued social distancing makes it impossible for our artists to move forward with rehearsals, and for our staff to execute the logistics of the 2020 festival.”

Some of the shows and artists that have emerged from the Fringe include Kim’s Convenience, the basis for the hit CBC series, Tony Award-winning musical The Drowsy Chaperone, My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding (by the creators of Broadway sensation Come From Away), ‘Da Kink In My Hair, Morro and Jasp, Michael Healey and Crow’s Theatre’s artistic director Chris Abraham.

The 2020 festival was to have included a launch event at Yonge-Dundas Square, as well as free programming at POSTSCRIPT, the Fringe patio, and 140 shows from Canada and around the world.

Artists of the 2020 festival have been offered first right of refusal for slots in the 2021 Toronto Fringe Festival.

Some Fringe events will still be going on in some capacity. The TENT emerging artist training program will continue and convert to an online format, running July 1-12, 2020. Applications for TENT are now open on the Fringe’s website.

Artists can also look forward to an upcoming call for applications for the 2021 Next Stage Theatre Festival in the coming weeks, which will take place next January.


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