Montreal, April 1 2020 — Like other arts organizations operating in an interdependent ecosystem, we face a major upheaval in our plans for the next few months. As a touring dance company, we are very much hindered by the current situation. Our performances, residencies, workshops, and other activities are officially cancelled until May 21st. Luckily for RUBBERBAND, our dancers, our staff and our audience, the majority of our performances for this season already took place before March 14.
The health protection measures announced by the governments of Canada and Quebec and by other provinces and countries oblige us to adapt in order to ensure everyone’s safety. Therefore, for the health and well-being of our dancers, we advised them on March 16 to stay at home, paying them for the two following weeks with the aim of mitigating the financial stress caused by COVID-19 in the arts milieu.
Since then, financial measures to bridge the gap for artists and arts organizations have been announced. Our executive director, Fannie Bellefeuille, is studying the details to ensure that our whole team will be supported; our members, like those of many dance companies, have varied situations, working either with regular salaries, on a contractual basis, or with work visas.
A word from Fannie Bellefeuille
Executive Director, RUBBERBAND, Treasurer, Board of Directors, Regroupement québécois de la danse and President, National Council, Canadian Dance Assembly
“In this difficult period, Victor Quijada and I have chosen to place our artists at the centre of our concerns. We are responsible for several artists who are away from their families and may be anxious regarding the challenges brought by the pandemic. We are also responsible for our local dancers, who have given us their time and talent for a number of years. We are doing everything in our power to make possible, for all our collaborators, a safe and healthy transition to this new reality.
We are proud of being one of the few companies who have continued to pay their artists in a time of crisis. We have taken initiatives to make sure we keep in touch with our team and will be able to take action in cases of distress. We hope by this to set an example for colleagues and contribute to the improvement of the working conditions of artists in Quebec.
We strongly encourage you to respect the rules established by your local government, and we are eager to see you again at a performance as soon as this is possible.”
We are presently on hold regarding our activities after May 21st. We face a range of eventualities as our partners evaluate the situation, borders are closed, quarantine periods are required when returning home, and rehearsing is impossible under an order not to gather.
If the behaviour we must adopt now is obvious (following the health and social distancing recommendations), what should our attitude be concerning the coming months?
Further disturbances in our residency and performance calendar are difficult to foresee at this moment. We are doubling our efforts to minimize the repercussions and respect our engagements towards our artists and presenters.
A note from Victor Quijada
Founder, Artictic Director and Choreographer, RUBBERBAND
”Spring 2020 was going to be a very busy time for RUBBERBAND! However, the corona virus crisis has hit, and while we at RUBBERBAND are all, thankfully, healthy and safe, our company activities have ground to a halt.
Between March 12 and May 21, 10 performances of Ever So Slightly have been cancelled in 6 cities (Vancouver, Paris, Purchase, Dallas, Bremen, Potsdam); and 6 performances of our repertory show Vic’s Mix have also been cancelled in 4 cities (Saint-Hyacinthe, Seattle, Worcester, Gatineau). Our creation residency at Jacob’s Pillow and our technical residency at SUNY Purchase to work on the new production Trenzado have been cancelled as well.
RUBBERBAND regularly offers outreach activities and workshops to the communities we tour to, but the 15 workshops & masterclasses that we were scheduled to teach in six cities have (obviously) been cancelled, too. Our 2-week artist-in-residency Remount Project at Boston Conservatory at Berklee has been rescheduled to 2021.
These are the RUBBERBAND activities in a 10-week window that have been affected, and we expect more cancellations in the weeks ahead.
All of North America is hoping for the best, while bracing for the worst. In these unprecedented times, it has been wonderful to see the international performing arts community band together in solidarity during the duties of isolation.
It is inspiring.
Our small company employees – about 20, including dancers, musicians, artistic collaborators, technicians, and office personnel – have continued connecting via phone, emails, texts, and video with each other and our loved ones, to keep ourselves intact as family. We are following all guidelines and staying home, social distancing, and being responsible for our collective health. We hope that you are also doing your part to minimize the propagation of COVID-19.
I am looking forward to being back in the studio with my crew of amazing dancers and collaborators. And I hope that our steps will soon resonate on a stage near you in a brighter future…
Stay safe and be well’’
The dissemination of our productions involves, more than anything else, coming together to work on developments for the future. And this future is unknown! Let’s be responsible but confident: isn’t the unknown the raw material of artists?
Beyond the losses, we can think of what has been gained: this situation will bring all of us to realize the importance and the benefits of the arts in our lives. The many creative initiatives achieved up to now have clearly demonstrated the solidarity of the arts milieu with the community – the main reason for its existence.