Montreal Improv will not reopen as the COVID-19 pandemic hits live performance venues hard
MONTREAL -- The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a grave toll on live performance venues and one Montreal institution is closing its doors for good.
The owners of Montreal Improv say the theatre won't reopen, as the live arts community struggles to survive the health crisis.
"A lot of sadness, a lot of nostalgia for this place already. I mean, it's hard. Montreal Improv is like my second home. I feel I've been part of the furniture since I started here," said French education director Cadi Diop.
The theatre built a community teaching and showcasing improv.
"I was very nervous, but excited and I kind of quickly fell deeply in love with the community," said former student Matthew Chaim. "I went through the whole school."
The theatre hosted around a dozen events per week before the pandemic hit, including Just For Laughs and Fringe Festival shows.
"There are a lot of theatres, (and) there were coaches around town giving classes, but there wasn't a home for improv and that's what we wanted to create," said co-founder Bryan Walsh.
Ultimately, the temporary shutdown became permanent.
"Under the reopening conditions, we would be incredibly limited and we're not sure the public appetite is for doing that so it just seemed too steep a hill to climb," said co-founder and general manager Vinny Francois.
From improv to stand up to burlesque to live music venues, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit live performance arts hard.
Just For Laughs is looking to drive-in theatres, which are seeing a resurgence due to the virus.
"Every day we wake up we are thinking of new ways to bring comedy to comedy fans - online and in the case of the drive-in in a manner that's safe and first class," said Just For Laughs president Bruce Hills.
Performers, meanwhile, are looking to adapt as the industry struggles.
"I think improv has a big capacity to be transformative leisurely activity so now it's about saying "yes and" to what comes next," said Diop.