As a Quebec leader in the entertainment industry for over 40 years, I have always had a down-to-earth, optimistic view of showbusiness, and wanted to speak up on what we are currently experiencing.
For the past several weeks, not a single day has gone by without an entrepreneur commenting the dark, uncertain times we are facing. Obviously, the manufacturing and entertainment industries are both heavily impacted, our activity level is at its lowest, and will likely remain so for months. But what about post-crisis?
This week, during a press conference, the Minister of Canadian Heritage mentioned there would be no “back to normal until 2021”. In counterparts, we can only commend the salary support the Canadian government is providing to many organizations, including the manufacturing and entertainment industries. However, to make sure the curtain does not fall for good on some of our promising manufacturers, this government support will need to extend much longer than the planned June deadline. When considering our clients, partners and all the world class productions and festivals that are now cancelled, we have to face the truth: this intermission could be a long one. It is very likely this situation will endure until a vaccine is available, in 12 to 18 months. In just days, the majority of our income—70% of which comes from foreign productions—has completely vanished.
This is what led us to host a discussion between several manufacturers, exchanging ideas regarding these challenges but mostly, to find tangible solutions despite a pandemic that keeps pushing us back to the drawing board. Many have answered the call: Stage Line, Unisson Structures, Scène Éthique, Therio Innovation, Artotech Integration, FlyPatt and Show Canada Industries. Our manufacturers’ immense talent is a key part of an industry which, before the crisis, was in its prime. These entrepreneurs have started from scratch, like many Quebecers, and have always found ways to innovate and reinvent themselves. They build the stages used by thousands of festivals, the structures of countless theatres, the mechanical pieces, the rigging for concerts by local artists as well as stars from around the globe. We work with the biggest names like the Olympic Games, Live Nation, Moment Factory, Solotech, Lune Rouge, Cirque du Soleil, hundreds of cities and townships throughout the world and most of your favourite festivals. These organizations represent 2,000 direct jobs and over 10,000 indirect jobs in Quebec. We hope a government support will help protect an important part of our industry and all the innovation it is made of. It took us decades to find the talent that makes Quebec shine everywhere in the world. We are a key part of the cultural industry and hope to remain so.
We, major industry players, are willing to stand together and do whatever it takes to go back to work as quickly as possible. We want to continue to promote our artists, to export our talent abroad and to bring the profits back home in Quebec. We want to keep the momentum going, to fast-track innovation projects, to continue creating intellectual property, to protect our valuable, local talents who, being in a vulnerable position, could end up acquired by American interests.
Now is the time to think about the support we will need to remain standing, even once the funds dry up in June. Dear parliamentarians: we officially invite you to sit at our table so that we may, together, elaborate a viable action plan for an industry that has never been so committed.
We want this crisis to make us stronger, and hope with all our hearts that the show will go on. We are at our strongest together.
The show must go on.
Co-signers — Yvan Miron (Stageline), Martin Ouellet and Hélène Demers (Scène Éthique), Pierre Jobin and Olivier Jobin (Unisson Structures), Bernard Thériault (Therio Innovation), Marc Bonin (Artotech Integration), Patrice Thivierge (FlyPatt) and Jean Labadie (Show Canada Industries).