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Toronto Film Festival Launches Pandemic Layoffs, Pay Reductions


12:36 PM PDT 06/23/2020


Etan Vlessing

TIFF has cut 31 jobs, or 17% of its workforce, the COVID-19 crisis having reduced income before its September festival.

The Toronto International Film Festival has laid off 31 more employees as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic significantly reduces operating revenues.

“In response to the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on the regular operations of TIFF, we announced today the difficult decision to reduce our full-time staff by 17%, which represents 31 valuable employees”, said Toronto festival co-chefs Joana Vicente and Cameron. Bailey said in a statement.

The Bell Lightbox, Toronto’s headquarters for the event-driven festival, has been closed since March, and pandemic travel and large-scale restrictions are expected to severely limit the operations of the normally star-studded event. TIFF in September.

Toronto festival organizers anticipate a 50% reduction in overall revenues from year to year. “As a non-profit organization, we have carefully thought about how to manage the loss of our operating budget, while preserving as many jobs as possible and ensuring a sustainable business model,” said Vicente and Bailey in a statement.

On Wednesday, TIFF will describe how it will organize its September festival, which is traditionally seen as a launching pad for candidates for the awards season. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 crisis has forced TIFF to radically review its commercial operations for both Bell Lightbox and the annual film festival.

“To mitigate these impacts, we have applied salary reductions at the senior management, executive and management levels; canceled discretionary projects; reduced spending; used the federal wage subsidy to cover part of our mass and launched our For the Love of the Film fundraising campaign, “Campaign to help turn TIFF around,” added Vicente and Bailey.

In November 2019, TIFF cut 15 other jobs while the prestigious festival redesigned its activities again while adopting a new five-year strategic plan.

The 2019 edition of TIFF hosted the first Tribute Gala, a lavish fundraiser that was to be an annual event and potentially the first major awards ceremony in Hollywood’s award season.

Last year’s Tribute Gala recipients included Meryl Streep, Joaquin Phoenix and Jojo rabbit Taika Waititi helmet.

But with the coronavirus pandemic calling on TIFF to organize its September event under strict health and safety guidelines, in-person fundraising supported by Hollywood stars is an unlikely prospect.

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