Hugh's Room for the Performing Arts
Hugh's Room Can Reopen With Your Help!
Hugh's Room, Toronto's beloved acoustic music club, closed its doors suddenly and unexpectedly in January 2017 after 16 years of operation.
There was an immediate and overwhelming response to this potential loss to the musical community, with substantial coverage in the local and national media (Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, Toronto Sun, Now, Exclaim, National Post, Jazz-FM, CBC, CTV, Global, insidetoronto.com, WholeNote, and many others).
Many members of the music community and public have asked how they could help to save or revive their beloved Hugh's Room.
In response, a working group of volunteers assembled and has developed a viable plan for re-opening Hugh's Room as a not-for-profit organization. The group includes lawyers, business people, accountants, music promoters, publicists, venue operators and members of the community (members are listed below). Grit Laskin has been named spokesperson for the working group.
The group has determined that Hugh's Room can clearly sustain itself financially going forward. With the right infrastructure and community support, the legacy of Hugh's Room can be continued. Toronto can continue to have a destination venue that presents the genres, variety and high quality of music that Hugh's Room is renowned for across the continent.
What’s the plan?
A new community based not-for-profit organization, Hugh's Room for the Performing Arts has been formed, and will re-open the club as Hugh's Room Live, during the week of April 19.
(Our original plan to re-open in March was delayed as the building was sold to new owners. Our time and efforts were spent negotiating a lease with the new owners, which was finalized on March 9. )
Anthony Ferrando, the original general manager of the club, is returning, and is excited at the renewed mandate to bring the club to an even higher standard.
Derek Andrews is on board to assist with booking and marketing as we ramp up to a full quotient of programming. Derek brings decades of experience in booking and artist management, and an international reputation,.
Our fundraising campaign:
Fundraising goal is $250,000. These fund are being used to purchase assets, secure a lease, provide necessary working capital, and create a financial buffer to stablize the operation.
The first $30,000 required by February 20.
THIS GOAL HAS BEEN MET !
Another $45,000 by March 5.
THIS GOAL HAS BEEN MET !
Another $50,000 by April 15.
DONATE NOW TO HELP US MEET THIS GOAL!
Another $50,000 by May 30.
Another $50,000 by July 15.
Another $25,00 by August 31 (or earlier if prior goals are met).
For those who prefer to donate by cheque or e-transfer:
Cheques – payable to Iler Campbell in Trust, mailed to: Iler Campbell LLP, 150 John St., Seventh Floor, Toronto M5V 3E3
E-transfer to: email@example.com - provide Brian Iler with the security answer via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please show your support and make your donation as early as possible.
Who is involved ?
The working group came together informally, in response to the news of Hugh’s Room’s closing. All are fans of Hugh’s Room, and wanted to explore how it could re‑open as a community‑owned venture. It includes:
Jeremy Darby, owner Canterbury Music Co (recording studio)
Howard Gladstone, businessman, musician, co-founder Toronto City Roots Festival 2004-2010
Jane Harbury, freelance publicist, has worked for Hugh's Room for many years
Brian Iler, lawyer, chair Northwinds Folk Festival (1984/85), engaged with many community initiatives
Grit Laskin, musician, luthier, member Order of Canada, spokesperson for the Hugh's Room working committee
Judith Laskin, retired educator, founding board member CFMA, director The Woods Music & Dance Camp, past board member Mariposa Folk Festival under Estelle Klein
Brian Litvin, accountant and musician
Bill McKetrick, member of music community on many levels
Ross Robinson, promotor of blues music events, frequent Hugh's Room patron
Franks Saunders, businessman, involved with Mariposa Folk Festival
Rob Young, advertising executive and musician
What about financial transparency?
As a not-for-profit community-based operation, Hugh’s Room for the Performing Arts will release its budgets and financial statements.
Is Richard Carson still involved?
Richard Carson was the founder of Hugh's Room, named in honour of his late brother, Hugh Carson. Richard’s original company will disappear and this new company will secure the assets (sound equipment, etc). Richard will have no operating role in the new company.
What about people who bought tickets to cancelled shows?
The working group is acutely aware of the financial fallout from the cancelled shows, for both audience and artists alike. Patrons of cancelled shows can contact their credit card company to obtain a refund. Note this can normally be done only after the show date has passed.
What about people who bought tickets to shows that will happen?
We will honour any paid tickets occurring once we re-open. We will work out the mechanics when we are up and running with access to the club's computers and records.
What about the former employees of the old Hugh's Room?
The new organization (Hugh's Room for the Performing Arts) is committed to re-opening the club. Doing that is the best way to assist employees who have been hurt by the closure. Our plan is to re-hire as many of them as we can, as soon as we can.
Volunteers are developing plans for a silent auction with proceeds to go the former employees. More details to follow.
Email the Hugh’s Room Live Working Group c/o Grit Laskin, its spokesperson at email@example.com, or our General manager Anthony Ferrando at firstname.lastname@example.org
We ask for your generous donations to enable Hugh's Room to rise from the ashes, and continue to provide a great venue and gathering place for the music community.
Here is some of the media coverage on the sudden closing of Hugh's Room, and plans to re-open the beloved venue.
Have you signed up for the Hugh’s Room Live mailing list? VIsit www.hughsroom.com to signup and ensure you receive the upcoming concert announcements.
Our fundraising campaign has now reached $95,550. Many thanks to our generous donors. Our next target is $125K by mid-April. These funds are needed to provide the financial stability to operate Hugh’s Room Live as a community-based not-for-profit organization. Contribute early to help us reach this target. Donors will receive an invitation to special donors-only evening to be held during our opening period. If you have already donated, please share this campaign. www.gofundme.com/hughsroom.
Here’s to live music in Toronto.
What’s been happening?
A new Not-For Profit corporation has been formed to manage the club. Hugh’s Room For The Performing Arts Inc. is the formal name and the club will now be operating under the trade name of Hugh’s Room Live.
While we were negotiating in good faith with the current landlord, including a hard offer to take over the lease and cover some missing rent, the building was sold and the locks changed. We had been given no hint that a sale was in the works.
As a result, for the last weeks all our attention was focused on reaching out to the new owners and negotiating with them for occupancy. That new lease is being signed today.. The new owner takes possession April 3 and the club needs a minimum of two weeks to get everything back in shape to open the doors and begin our renewed vision. We are projecting that we will finally open in the week of April 19.
We have been able to bring back the original general manager of the club, Anthony Ferrando, who is excited at the renewed mandate coming from our Working Group and the new Not-For-Profit structure.
We also have the good fortune to have Derek Andrews on board to assist us with the booking and marketing as we ramp up to a full quotient of programming. His many decades of experience in booking and artist management and sitting on numerous Arts Boards, not to mention his international reputation in the Blues, World Music and Folk Music communities, makes him a most welcome addition to our team.
A number of the original staff have been contacted and will be rehired as soon as we can confirm the opening.
Paid tickets to cancelled shows
We fully intend to honour any paid tickets for shows occurring once we re-open. We will work out the mechanics of that policy as soon as we are up and running and can again access the club’s computers and records. It will be made public ASAP. In the interim patrons of cancelled shows should contact their credit card company, to obtain a refund. (*note this can usually only be done once the concert date has passed.)
We are thrilled with the support so far (as of writing 330 people have contributed almost $83,000.) but we do need to raise more. This money is needed to pay rent and utilities, pay staff, purchase kitchen and bar supplies, and see us through a ramp-up phase where there won’t yet be enough bookings to sustain the venue. We have also budgeted a reasonable cushion so that the club would not just turn around and face financial hardships again. Of necessity our goal is $250,000. The sooner we reach our target the better our chances of restoring the club to operational health. So please continue spreading the word. Here’s how:
• or, to save the 8% (!) fee we pay GoFundMe, by cheque payable to Iler Campbell in Trust, mailed to: Iler Campbell LLP, 150 John St., Toronto M5V 3E3, or e-transfer to: email@example.com - provide Brian Iler with the security answer via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have a number of tasks on our plate that we’ll be public about as we work through them. Included: Establishment of the new company’s Board, its operating structures and wider membership, design of a potential subscription series, re-vamp the menu, fix the water pressure issue (the new owners have kindly offered), confirm bookings for late April and May and begin to fill in future dates, makeover of the website.
The new company is not legally allowed to take on any of the financial obligations that are holdovers from Richard Carson’s company, without taking them all on, and that’s an impossibility. However, we have repeatedly insisted that we are unhappy that some artists have gone unpaid, some of Richard’s patrons have found their tickets worthless, and staff have not been paid the wages they were entitled to receive. Without crossing the line between what we are legally able to do, and what we can’t, we are exploring ways to address those concerns.
Email the Hugh’s Room Working Group c/o Grit Laskin, its spokesperson at email@example.com, or our General manager Anthony Ferrando at firstname.lastname@example.org
The fundraising total stands at $66,390, Our next target is $75K by March 5 (which takes us halfway to our goal of $150K). We thank our donors, and ask you to share our campaign.
Hugh's Room is slated re-open March 15 with a fundraising concert organized by Judith and Grit Laskin. Details will be released shortly, and donors will receive advance notice. Mark your calendar!
Here is a question we have been asked: What about the former employees of the old Hugh's Room?
The new organization (Hugh's Room for the Performing Arts) is committed to re-opening the club on March 15. Doing that is the best way to assist employees who have been hurt by the closure. Our plan is to re-hire as many of them as we can, as soon as we can.
Volunteers are developing plans a silent auction to be held on March 15, with proceeds to go the former employees. More details to follow.
Thanks to all for you support. And please share our campaign.