New report cites digital strategy as vital to survival of theatre in
TORONTO, Jan. 31, 2012 /CNW/ - A new report, entitled Beyond the Curtain: How Digital Media Is Reshaping Theatre, warns that performing arts companies in Canada will struggle to
compete with foreign content unless they embrace digital technology as
a means of finding new audiences for theatrical productions.
"The remarkable achievement of this report is that it has brought
together unions, performing arts producers and content creators to
discuss what is becoming a very serious issue affecting Canadian
theatre," says veteran Canadian television producer Craig Thompson,
author of the report.
According to the report, Canadian live theatre is facing stiffer
competition for entertainment dollars from the proliferation of new
digital platforms. In an environment in which funding for the arts is
declining and broadcasters are turning away from traditional performing
arts programming, capturing live performance for digital distribution
has become more important than ever as a source of revenue. The report
argues that the re-purposing of live theatre for cinema screens and the
Internet offers an exciting opportunity to reach a broader audience and
generate additional revenue.
"We want to ensure that Canadian audiences have access to Canadian
performing arts productions wherever and whenever they choose to view
it," says Arden Ryshpan, Executive Director of Canadian Actors' Equity
Association, which represents stage performers and is one of the
partners in the report. "We don't want the only thing available to be a
foreign opera, ballet or theatre company."
The Canadian theatre industry is finding it challenging to keep pace
with the number of foreign productions on cinema screens, such as The Met: Live in HD and National Theatre Live, both of which are attracting large audiences. The report warns that
Canada will fall behind unless new funding models are made available to
re-purpose homegrown theatrical content for digital platforms — with or
without broadcaster involvement.
"Our industry is well aware of the need to embrace the digital reality
and make the arts more accessible on different platforms," says Jacoba
Knaapen, Executive Director of the Toronto Alliance for the Performing
Arts, which represents 187 theatre, dance and opera companies in the
Greater Toronto Area. "This report highlights this need in the
strongest possible way and is an important step in moving our industry
forward in that direction."
The study also recommends theatre producers and unions accelerate the
pace of discussions and negotiations to ensure barriers to rapid
adoption of content re-purposing and digital media applications are
removed. It further calls for the availability of innovation funding to
allow theatre companies to experiment with all facets of digital media
The study was led by Ballinran Entertainment with funding from the OMDC
Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund. Other partners
in the study included Digital Wizards, Canadian Actors' Equity
Association and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. The study included
an on-line survey and interviews with the theatre and performing arts
community in Canada and abroad.
The report is available at: www.stagescene.ca
For further information:
Mary Powers, MPowers Communications +1 416 767 8692 firstname.lastname@example.org