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Toronto arts agency lays off staff as live events 'ravaged' by pandemic

TORONTO — The Toronto agency that operates three prestigious arts venues says additional layoffs mean 115 full-time positions have now been affected by the pandemic.

TORONTO — The Toronto agency that operates three prestigious arts venues says additional layoffs mean 115 full-time positions have now been affected by the pandemic.

TO Live says this is in addition to the 480 unionized, part-time and casual staff who were already laid off or placed on temporary leave.

The non-profit charitable arts group says the most recent round of 32 layoffs follow an 85 per cent drop in revenue.

TO Live operates Meridian Hall, formerly the Sony Centre; St Lawrence Centre for the Arts; and the Meridian Arts Centre, formerly Toronto Centre for the Arts.

TO Live president Clyde Wagner says it's a difficult time for live events in the city.

He says they lost most of their income when the state of emergency was declared and shows were suspended due to COVID-19 precautions.

"The entire sector has been ravaged by COVID-19 and TO Live is no exception," Wagner said Wednesday in a release.

As an agency of the City of Toronto, TO Live does not qualify for federal government support programs during COVID-19.

Wagner said they worked hard to bring down expenses but ongoing fixed costs with the buildings "cannot be avoided."

TO Live said the remaining 30 staff will work towards long-term planning. They will be on a reduced work week of four days, with a 20 per cent reduction in pay.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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