Canada’s biggest and longest-running industry conference, now in its 38th year, had already been postponed from May 19–23 when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March and was rescheduled for Sept. 9–11 at the Sheraton Centre and various venues.
But as of May 3, Toronto had 6,278 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 449 deaths. Residents have been asked to stay home as much as possible and all non-essential businesses are closed. As the rate of infection begins to slow, some seasonal businesses have now been allowed to reopen with safety protocols but all bars and restaurants remain closed.
A press release from CMW states, “After extensive consultation with industry partners, it has become apparent that – at this point in the public health emergency – September represented too many unavoidable obstacles. Not least of these would be the participation of international artists and delegates, many of whom might not be free to travel at that point, and some of whom have already declined to attend.
“Even in a best-case fall scenario, wherein the spread of COVID-19 has been mitigated and limited public gatherings allowed, high-attendance events such as concerts, sports and conferences will likely be the last public activities to resume. The fallout is huge, for events like ours and for the entire music industry.”
CMW is hopeful that the conference and festival will go ahead in 2021, but the organization isn’t rushing to find a new date yet. “We will not make any final decisions until such time that events surrounding COVID-19 and the subsequent government directives are known. We will continue follow protocols and assess our best options going forward.”
All ticketed concerts are either in the process of being refunded or have been refunded. CMW 2020 badges and wristbands will be honoured on the new dates.
“This has been a heartbreaking turn of events for so many reasons that has affected everyone,” the CMW statement concludes. “But beyond the dire and tragic statistics, what can’t be measured is the frustration of hard work, ambition and creativity going unseen and unheard. To that end, we are investigating some virtual options for mounting a digital extension of Canadian Music Week, including a series of webinars and conference livestreams.”