Toronto’s beloved Hugh’s Room Live will be leaving its current location at the end of the month, the music venue’s board of directors announced.
Known for its great sound and for supporting and nurturing jazz artists in Toronto, Hugh’s Room Live has been operating in the Roncesvalles area since its inception in 2001.
After closing its doors in early 2017, it was shortly revived thanks to donations from supporters in the music community. Since then, the club has been flourishing, with the number of performance bookings growing and its financial health improving.
However, it has evidently not been enough to outpace the escalating rent prices in Toronto’s hot real-estate market.
“We are deeply saddened by this turn of events but we are firmly focused on securing a new home where this important cultural icon can continue to thrive,” said chairman Brian Iler. “We tried very hard to secure a new lease on affordable terms with our current landlord but regrettably we could not come to an agreement. It is time to move on.”
According to a statement issued on Thursday, the board had raised $150,000 to relaunch Hugh’s Room Live a few years ago, and the most recent fundraising push in late 2019 brought in another $120,000 to support the club.
“The Toronto real estate market is hot, and rent escalations are impacting music venues across the city. It is important torecognize that just as Roy Thomson Hall and Massey Hall are critical to the cultural life of Toronto, so too are smaller music venues that offer an alternative listening experience,” said Iler. “Hugh’s Room Live is unique in the city in that we provide an intimate showcase for music legends and emerging talent alike. This is a musician’s performance space, and without a venue like ours, an important part of our cultural experience will be lost.”
Named after the late brother of founder Richard Carson, this registered charity has been dedicated not only to modern legacy artists but also new, up-and-coming talent. It’s one of the venues listed in JAZZ.FM91’s guide to Toronto’s best jazz clubs.
Iler added that while the board had hoped Hugh’s Room Live could stay in its current location, it had also been actively searching for a new spot to call home. He said that during this transition period, the club is doing its best to keep existing bookings and will notify artists and ticketholders as it makes new arrangements for those shows.