Opinion: An open letter to Francois Legault from a dance studio owner
In March 2020, we did what you asked. We closed our doors. We pivoted. We innovated. We went online.
We did what we could with whatever assistance the government had to offer.
Then we watched the mental health of dancers decline. We watched our teachers become discouraged. We watched our beautiful artistic community begin to crumble.
We did everything you asked and we barely survived.
That was round one.
In August 2020, we did what you asked. We opened with a slew of restrictions.
We reorganized for social distancing. We added time for sanitizing and cleaning. We added manpower for contact tracing. We added masks for safety.
We spent money we didn’t have because that’s how important dancing in person was for us.
We couldn’t pay our teachers. We couldn’t pay our rent. But we did what we could with whatever assistance the government had to offer.
We did everything you asked and we barely survived.
That was round two.
In October 2020, just as we were starting to gain momentum, we did what you asked.
We closed our doors for a second time, a harder time. We went back online but “Zoom fatigue" was kicking in.
We offered classes, workshops and training, but dancers all over the province were starting to give up. Give up on their dreams. Give up on their optimism. Give up on our future.
Dance studios across the province were forced to close not for COVID-19, but for good.
Owners lost so much more than their businesses. Teachers lost so much more than their jobs. Dancers lost so much more than their outlets.
All this, despite whatever assistance the government had to offer.
We did everything you asked and we barely survived.
That was round three.
In September 2021, we did what you asked.
We did not take for granted that we were still operating in a pandemic. We remained at reduced capacity. We continued to wear masks. We scanned passports. We lost a lot of our clientele.
There was no more assistance that the government had to offer.
We did everything you asked. We were far from OK but we were open, functioning respectfully and safely.
That was round four.
Dance studios are more than just walls, floors and mirrors. They are the life force, the air that so many breathe to survive. They are havens for those who can’t go home safely. Spaces to grow for those who can’t be themselves in schools or at work. Beacons of discovery for those who have lost their way.
Dance studios promote healthy bodies through movement, healthy minds through creativity and healthy hearts through community.
For many, dance is essential. We are essential.
Now we have been asked to close again and it is our turn to ask - How do you expect us to come back from this?
How do you expect us to keep doing what you ask, despite the destructive and harmful impact that this is having not only on our financial wellbeing but our emotional one?
We follow the rules because we are part of society, yet we are not allowed to complete our function in our society.
In 2022, we are asking to reopen the businesses that have followed the rules.
Businesses that will continue to operate safely. Businesses that will continue to provide a safe space. Businesses that will continue to improve our community’s mental health and physical strength.
This is what dancers are asking of us. This is what we are asking of you. We are barely surviving.
This is round five. Please do what we ask.
Owner/director of Tripoli Studios Inc. and co-director of Workroom 5584
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