Music community reeling from closure of west-end venue Hugh's Room
Owner Richard Carson 'not giving up' despite closing doors amid ongoing financial struggles
Amid ongoing financial issues, Roncesvalles-area live music venue Hugh's Room is closing its doors for the time being — a move some say is "devastating" to the city's music community.
The venue has "reached a point of insolvency," owner Richard Carson told CBC Toronto.
"Hugh's Room has been struggling for many years... and we've always been able to get through the next weekend, but I got through the point on Friday where I thought, I don't know how I'm going to get through the next weekend," he said.
"I need some time to figure this out."
"In-house emergency" causes Hugh's Room to cancel all shows this weekend. Consequentially, AL LERMAN BAND will not be performing. Bummer. <a href="https://t.co/q1dvAPr1Kk">pic.twitter.com/q1dvAPr1Kk</a>—@allermanmusic
This weekend's concerts were abruptly cancelled in the wake of Carson's decision.
Since opening its doors 16 years ago, Hugh's Room has been host to thousands of concerts from the likes of Pete Seeger, Serena Ryder, Sylvia Tyson, Odetta, Jane Siberry, and Ron Sexsmith.
Venue had long-time financial struggles
But financial problems have plagued the venue for years.
Back in 2014, Carson launched a crowd-funding campaign to "stabilize operations," but now says he didn't maintain those connections — and the financial troubles remained.
"My background was not-for-profit before I started Hugh's Room... and that's what I've done: I've created a not-for-profit business," he said. "So I'm exploring how I can call it that. Maybe there's some options for reincarnation as a different kind of venue."
Hugh's Room, he added, has not declared bankruptcy, despite online reports to the contrary.
'Devastating to the music community'
Even so, Toronto's music community is reeling from the news the venue's doors are suddenly closed.
"This is sad sad news for this so-called 'music city,'" tweeted Toronto-based music promoter Richard Flohil on Twitter.
"Devastating to the music community," echoed music publicist Eric Alper.
Sorry to read today that Hugh's Room in Toronto is closing.The Arrogant Worms did 29 shows there over the years. Amazing staff. Always fun.—@mrchrisworm
"It's hard in the city for venues and restaurants, and I think the fact that Hugh's Room is both, it's really reached sort of its breaking point," said Samantha Martin, who had a Gordon Lightfoot tribute gig lined up at the venue this coming week.
"I really hate to see another live music venue, especially Hugh's Room close because of financial troubles."
For his part, Carson is trying to remain hopeful.
"The amount of support that's coming forward right now is pretty incredible, but I don't know if it'll be enough," Carson said, adding he still wants to keep working to find a way to make the business sustainable.
"I'm not giving up yet."