CHEK Upside: Victoria arts school gets students back on stage with $50K pandemic-proof plan


You’ve heard the phrase “the show must go on,”  but the students and staff at the Canadian College of Performing Arts (CCPA) in Victoria are taking things to a whole new level.

“We realized bigger challenges were ahead in terms of how do we plan to reopen for in-person learning,” said Caleb Marshall, CCPA Managing Artistic Director.

So in between semesters, the school invested nearly $50,000 on what they hope is a pandemic-proof plan.

“I think what they’ve done is ridiculously above and beyond what anybody asked,” said Jaren Guerreiro, a second-year student at the school.

They’ve implemented basic protocols including mandatory masks and the placing of hand sanitizing stations in nearly every room. They’ve also renovated the building to add more studio space, added plexiglass barriers to protect students and staff during singing classes; and also purchased HEPA filters for every room to help keep the air clean.

One of the more innovative changes they’ve made for this school year is improving the internet connection and adding a webcam to every studio classroom. This allows students to partake in classes from the comfort of their own homes. Those streaming classes are used by international students unable to travel to Canada, and for anyone who’s feeling ill and wants to keep up with their work.

Adapting to the new normal has been a balancing act for the students, but you won’t hear many complaints.

“Like, I miss hugs, but I’m very happy to be back,” said second-year student Natasha Glass.

The one group that doesn’t wear masks nor keep a safe distance are the students rehearsing for the upcoming CCPA production of the Spanish classic play Yerma. However, there are still safety measures in place.

“They are a dedicated cohort of less than 13. They’re functioning in their own stand-alone place,” said Marshall. “No one else from the college community enters that space.”

All students and staff have also signed a “COVID contract,” pledging they’ll follow basic COVID policies both in and outside of school.

“That requires every single person to be vigilant and to make sure we’re complying with all the protocols,” added Marshall.

It all may seem like a lot to ask, but these students are happy to work in harmony and eager to once again take centre stage.

“We’re so fortunate to be here and to be in person so I think I’d sacrifice a lot to be here,” said Guerreiro.

“At the end of the day we want to support each other and if one of us goes down we’ll all go down so we’re here to lift each other up,” said Glass.

The CCPA’s production of Yerma debuts on Thursday, Oct. 22. For ticket information or to learn how to watch online, click here.


Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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