TIFF has let go 31 employees, representing about 17 per cent of full-time staff, in a June 23, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

TIFF lays off 31 full-time staff, cuts salaries amid revenue drop

TORONTO — The organization that runs the Toronto International Film Festival says the impact of COVID-19 is forcing more layoffs and slashing expected revenues.

A joint statement from TIFF co-heads Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey says 31 employees have been let go, representing about 17 per cent of full-time staff.

They say the combined impact of various public health precautions including restrictions on travel and gatherings are expected to slash revenues to half of what they were in 2019. Cinemas at TIFF Bell Lightbox have been temporarily closed since March. When theatres are permitted to reopen, it likely won’t be at full capacity.

Vicente and Bailey say the shortfall has also forced salary cuts at the executive, senior management and management levels; cancelled discretionary projects; and seen the organization rely on the federal wage subsidy to cover a portion of payroll.

The cuts follow 15 layoffs last November when the non-profit organization undertook “a comprehensive review” of its five-year strategic plan, launched in January 2018.

Vicente and Bailey say the current pandemic has forced the organization to again reexamine its future and how best to reach audiences.

“The pandemic has had a huge impact on every Canadian organization that welcomes audiences in large numbers,” Vicente and Bailey said Tuesday in a release.

“The global health crisis has led us to completely redesign our business and reimagine our activities for both TIFF Bell Lightbox and (the film) festival to continue to deliver on our mission to transform the way people see the world through film.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2020.

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