Toronto's Hugh's Room to Close

"This is a musician's performance space, and without a venue like ours, an important part of our cultural experience will be lost"

BY Allie GregoryPublished Mar 5, 2020

After 19 years in Toronto's west end, Hugh's Room has announced it will be vacating its current location by the end of the month.

Today, the venue's board of directors issued a press release stating that Hugh's Room Live will close its Dundas Street West location permanently as of March 31. Despite reporting a programming surge in recent years, the venue has apparently struggled to come to an agreement with its current landlord and is in search of a more affordable location.

While the board has announced plans to relocate to a new venue, so far, nothing has been secured.

Chairman Brian Iler offered the following statement about the venue's closure:

The Toronto real estate market is hot, and rent escalations are impacting music venues across the city. It is important to recognize 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. 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.

While we were hopeful to the end, that we would be in a position to secure a lease with our current landlord, we have actively been searching for new premises. Our ultimate goal is a permanent home which will free us from the pressure of rising rents and we are looking at a number of options. The past few months have been challenging.  It was difficult to plan or book new acts and this has had an impact on revenue. But we believe that once we have secured a stable home, growth will resume.

As we transition to a new home, we will be doing everything we can to preserve existing bookings and will provide information to artists and ticket holders as alternative venues are identified.  We hope to secure new leased premises in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned for that announcement!

The venue already closed its doors once before. From January to April of 2017, the venue shut down due to similar financial issues. At the time, Hugh's Room's representatives launched a GoFundMe campaign for $250,000. They've been operating consistently since. 

Currently, Hugh's Room's website still lists its upcoming performances well into the next few months and beyond. It is unclear if these concerts will be subject to change in schedule, or if they will resume performances at a new location.

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