There’s some good news for Toronto’s live music lovers — and we have Toronto City Council to thank.
Beloved live music spot Hugh’s Room will likely get a new lease on life.
After a 20-year run, the venue — where artists like Pete Seeger and Serena Ryder have performed — lost its permanent location at 2261 Dundas Street back in March 2020. And Toronto’s live music fans shed a collective tear at the closure of yet another iconic venue in the city.
During its meeting last week, Toronto City Council agreed to a loan guarantee for Hugh’s Room to purchase an aging east end church. Now, the Broadview Faith Temple Church at 296 Broadview will house a different type of worshipper — those who live for live music.
Image: Hugh’s Room Live
According to a City Council report, the music venue is in the last stages of negotiating the purchase terms for the property. According to the City, Hugh’s Room has already secured more than $2.2M in donations and vendor take-back loans, but was short another $2.2M in financing to seal the deal and close the property before March 31, 2022.
So, that’s where the City steps in. The motion to grant the loan was met with unanimous support from City Council.
Brought forth by Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 14, Toronto-Danforth), the motion will help Hugh’s Room purchase and renovate the church, transforming it into an arts and culture-focused community centre. While countless live music venues (and indie theatres, for that matter) have closed their doors in recent years, Hugh’s Room warranted special consideration for the hefty loan guarantee because it’s a registered charity and non-profit organization.
As for the church, it is a designated heritage property and was designed by the same architect behind Casa Loma.
“In addition to preserving an important heritage building, Hugh’s Room is committed to the principles of diversity and inclusion in its programming, while providing a venue to support a full range of teaching and community uses as well as being an important cultural and music-centred hub for the entire City,” the report reads.
Since the closure of its former digs, Hugh’s Room has offered a dose of live music through both virtual concerts and live shows through partnerships with venues like El Macambo.
If all goes as planned (fingers crossed), come 2024, some 200 people could find themselves getting their live music fix inside the former church as the building takes on a new significance in Toronto’s cultural landscape.
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