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Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach sues insurer for COVID-19 losses

Bard on the Beach cancelled A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, Love’s Labours Lost and Paradise Lost in 2020 due to COVID-19
Bard on the Beach 1990
Bard on the Beach's annual festival performs the plays of Shakespeare and others in Vancouver's Vanier Park.

The Vancouver Bard on the Beach Theatre Society has seen better days.

The pandemic cost the annual Shakespearean festival $1.8 million in losses due to cancelled plays during the pandemic lockdown, according to a report by Deloitte LLP.

The theatre society is suing its insurer for allegedly failing to honour contractual agreements to compensate fully for these losses.

In a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on July 5, the theatre society said it had a policy with Ecclesiastical Insurance Office covering performance interruption and non-production losses.

“Pandemics and/or communicable diseases are not exclusions under the policy,” the claim said.

On March 16, 2020, B.C.’s provincial health officer introduced an order barring gatherings of more than 50 people, making the cancellation of Bard’s season a foregone conclusion, the claim said.

In the cancelled 2020 season, Bard on the Beach was scheduled to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, Love’s Labours Lost and Paradise Lost.

In addition to ticket sales for those performances, the claim said the festival lost potential revenue from a concession, bar services and a boutique.

The company had further expected to make money from a travelling production of As You Like It in addition to youth workshops and a fireworks event.

The day after the order went into effect, the Bard on the Beach informed Ecclesiastical it would be filing a claim for its losses.

On July 20, 2022, Ecclesiastical advised it would provide $100,000 in advance of determination of the claim.

That September, the insurance company gave Bard on the Beach a $598,981 loss evaluation.

But that evaluation was Greek to Bard on the Beach, who countered in March 2021 with the Deloitte LLP loss report that noted a claim value of $1.7 million after deducting the $100,000 advance.

In response, the claim said that Ecclesiastical stated that the net loss, not including the advance, was $52,815.

Soon, Ecclesiastical advised it would pay Bard on the Beach $179,000 in addition to the advance.

The theatre society claims Ecclesiastical has failed to calculate the claim’s value in accordance with the policy.

They’re seeking damages owing for owed insurance proceeds; damages for breach of contract, damages for impairment of economic status, damage to financial credit, loss of insurability and loss of savings.

Ecclesiastical could not be immediately reached for comment.


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