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Wednesday, April 15th, 2020
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A letter from our Executive Director, Katherine Carleton

Dear Members,

In the last four weeks a wave of cancellations has spread across the country in the wake of lockdown measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Every one of our approximately 130 member orchestras has been affected. It has been nothing short of inspirational to see the adaptability of Canadian orchestras who are now creating more online content than ever. Orchestras Canada has also increased our level of online activity to support our members going through these unprecedented challenges. We know that orchestras are stronger together than they are alone, and we have been expanding and adapting our four mission pillars to help orchestras respond to the current crisis.


Over the last month OC has convened online meetings with a number of stakeholder groups to exchange information, ideas and to design collective responses to the current shutdown. We have held meetings with orchestra CEOs, youth orchestra leaders, personnel managers, and with groups of marketing and education staff. We’re making plans to continue and expand these meetings. Let us know what you need.


Our advocacy committee has been hard at work assessing the best way to approach federal government decision-makers and make them aware of orchestras’ needs. We’ve written a letter to several government ministers, and are encouraging our members to share the letter with their local MPs. For obvious reasons, we’ve focused on emergency short term measures. We’ll continue this, even as we consult with you to develop re-launch and resilience strategies for Canadian orchestras.


We are issuing frequent updates to our members with news that directly affects the arts sector, as well as resources and tools to equip you to respond to the current situation. We’re also happy to share your initiatives and triumphs. You can read these updates on our COVID-19 page, or by signing up to our email list.


So far we have run two surveys that have measured the immediate impact of the COVID-19 shutdowns on our members, and have reported back with some initial insights from our statistician, Steve Smith. This data collection is an ongoing process: while we’re aware that you’re being approached we’ll be collecting and analyzing further data.

I encourage you to take a look at what we’ve been up to, and encourage you to get in touch with us to share resources, brainstorm ideas, or just to check in. Take care,

Katherine Carleton C.M.
Executive Director
Orchestras Canada/Orchestres Canada

Canada Emergency Response Benefit Update

Prime Minister Trudeau announced today more flexible rules for those claiming the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Seasonal workers and those who have recently run out of employment insurance will now also be eligible for CERB. People who make less than $1,000 a month due to reduced work hours will also qualify. More details to come.

Fundraising and Marketing in a Time of Crisis

With the doors temporarily closed at our concert halls, orchestras are working hard to meet our communities where they are - in their own homes. Staying in touch with and engaging patrons and donors is more important now than ever. We've assembled a panel of guests from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to share what they've been doing to keep up their activity during the shutdown, and to prepare for a successful and resilient re-launch once it's safe to do so. Join us and the Chicago Symphony's Jeff Alexander (President & CEO), Dale Hedding (VP Development) and Ryan Lewis (VP Marketing & Sales) next Friday, April 17th at 1:30pm Eastern Time.

Orchestras in Action

The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra has launched their online program, Re-JOYce, using audio recordings of past concerts with commentary from their music director and other guests.

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal has put together this moving tribute to Québec's essential workers.

The Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil has announced a new project designed to highlight the work of healthcare and front-line workers.

The Orchestre symphonique de Québec has launched a series of mini masterclasses with their musicians, calling for videos from musicians of all ages.

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