The Great Virtual Pivot

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This spring arts and culture organizations continue to showcase incredible events, exhibits and shows, bringing exceptional Ontario talent and creativity to home screens across the province. Organizations have had to pivot to virtual programming this year due to the health and safety restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these restrictions, we have seen extraordinary creativity and resilience from creators, organizers and arts leaders.

This month we would like to feature some of our favourite virtual pivots across the province. It has been no easy feat to continue to engage with audiences during these unprecedented times. But with support from government, patrons and organizations such as OCAF, galleries, performing arts institutions, festivals and exhibitions have brought to life incredible virtual experiences that inspire, uplift and enlighten audiences across the province.

OCAF has been instrumental in supporting virtual programming for arts, culture and tourism organizations by continuing to deliver essential funding and by offering digital marketing training to all interested organizations this year through our series of webinars on all things digital. These webinar recordings are available to all on our website.

Kathleen Sharpe
Executive Director


Virtual Events On Now

Music of My Life on RoyalConservatory.Live

The Royal Conservatory of Music has developed a new digital concert platform which is launching Music of My Life – A Conversation With …, a new series available on RoyalConservatory.Live, a new new on-demand digital channel of The Royal Conservatory of Music. The channel features hundreds of hours of performances filmed in the exquisite acoustics of Koerner Hall, engaging talks and documentaries (where the Music of My Life series will be found), and celebratory events. New content will be added weekly.

Hosts of Music of My Life Dr. Peter Simon, President & CEO, and Mervon Mehta, Executive Director, Performing Arts, and stars of the stage and screen discuss the music that inspires them.

Learn more

Hamilton Fringe Festival

This summer the Hamilton Fringe Festival is presenting an action-packed performance event that takes place over 12 days in July in downtown Hamilton. The 18th summer festival will take place outdoors and online across two main stages and an enhanced digital platform and will feature upwards of 44 lotteried performance companies offering musicals, dance, comedies, magic shows, dramas, and family entertainment from July 14 to July 25, 2021.

In response to current sector challenges, enhanced festival initiatives for 2021 are designed to provide new outdoor and digital experiences to re-orient main Festival programming.

Learn more


Hot Docs

This year the iconic Hot Docs Cinema is closed temporarily but the Hot Docs Festival continues, bringing outspoken and outstanding documentary programming to home screens across the country. This virtual re-imagining is a no-brainer, and has uniquely engaging execution and fantastic content for audiences to enjoy while staying at home and keeping one another safe.

The 2021 Hot Docs Festival is available for audiences across Canada to stream April 29 to May 9. The line-up of this year’s films has been released.

In addition to the films, Hot Docs is presenting Live Events throughout the festival which include Q&A and the Big Ideas series where audiences can hear from notable subjects and experts on issues featured in the films.


Bata Shoe Museum


The Bata Shoe Museum was slated to celebrate its 25th anniversary this year, but as the pandemic hit, the team at the museum quickly moved to bring celebrations online. The team has done an extraordinary job using established and emerging (TikTok anyone?) digital media channels to engage audiences at home and bring inspiring and educational content to our screens.

Bata Shoe Museum has been presenting the engaging Salon Series where researchers, experts and curators are exploring the impact of 18th century issues today and beyond.

Several months into the pandemic the team also launched #BSMFromHome a wonderful array of online activities for adults and children that lets everyone explore the museum’s collections, connect with curators and experts and learn new skills through workshops and webinars!

Here for Now: 2021 New Works Festival

Not all organizations have gone virtual. Some are getting creative by exploring options for outdoor performances. Famously Stratford Festival has announced that its 2021 summer season will take place outdoors, but they are not the only ones!

Independent Stratford based theatre company, Here For Now has announced the 2021 New Works Festival comprised entirely of world premiere productions. Local artists are coming together to create a season that will include ten shows with small, socially distanced audiences, under an open-air canopy at the Bruce Hotel.

Learn more

Myseum Intersections Festival

Myseum Intersections is an annual city-wide arts and culture festival that explores Toronto through intersectional perspectives. This year’s festival taking place April – June, 2021 adopts a new hybrid model, balancing socially distanced physical exhibits with virtual exhibits, events, and experiences.

The festival’s first exhibit was Images of Resistance: An Archive of Action, its official launch event is available online.

Women in Hip Hop is a series of events and exhibits coming this spring with historic accounts, interactive galleries and live performances, addressing the past, present and progressive future of the Female MC.

Chinatown: Future Heritage(s) of Toronto’s Chinatowns is coming to our screens this May, a digital symposium exploring the past, present, and possible futures of how we define and develop chinatowns.

Learn more


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