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Three months after hosting a strike-affected edition of its annual September event, the Toronto International Film Festival cut 12 full-time staff positions across departments Thursday in a restructuring.

“Like many in the arts and entertainment sector, we are continuing to recover from the pandemic as well as the setback of this year’s SAG-AFTRA strike. We have undertaken a strategic review of our business and put in place measures that will optimize our year-round and festival operations and offerings to better serve our stakeholders,” Judy Lung, vice-president of public relations and communications for TIFF, said in a statement.

“This includes refocusing our resources and restructuring some departments, which has impacted 12 full-time staff members. We respect and value the work of these individuals and thank them for their contributions to the organization.”

The move reduces TIFF’s head count by about 7 per cent at a time when the cultural institution is facing pressures both inside and out. The lingering effects of the pandemic have radically altered audience behaviour when it comes to moviegoing, while the dual actors’ and writers’ strikes that effectively shut down Hollywood for much of the past year also upended TIFF’s marquee festival plans.

While ticket sales for the 48th edition of the festival were up from the year before, the SAG-AFTRA actor strike ensured a significant absence of the kind of red-carpet talent that has become crucial to the festival experience. As a result, TIFF lost $2.76-million in revenue from stakeholders reducing or cancelling their festival participation.

Meanwhile, long-time lead sponsor Bell is ending its partnership with TIFF, valued at about $5-million annually, at the end of this year.

In her statement on the restructuring, Lung added that as the non-profit organization looks ahead to 2024, “we are confident that these strategic changes will reinforce our strong foundation as a pillar of the Canadian and international cultural community.”

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