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About Us

Our History

Among Toronto music venues, Hugh’s Room live has always stood alone – a wonderful quiet space where musicians could be heard. A place that gives voice to the broad ‘roots’ canon of North American and Global Music representing our rich multicultural fab­ric. Hugh’s Room has host­ed some of Canada’s most iconic mu­sicians, including Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Murray McLauchlan, Dan Hill, Buffy Sainte-Marie, The McGarrigles, and Sylvia Tyson, as well as international gi­ants like Al Stewart, Jesse Winchester, Odetta, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Jeff Daniels, Tom Rush, Albert Lee, Maria Muldaur, David Lindley, Richie Havens, Fairport Convention and countless oth­ers.

Where We Have Been

Founded in 2001 by Richard Carson in memory of his brother Hugh, a musician who died of cancer, our long-time home at 2261 Dundas West holds many memories for the thousands of Hugh’s Room Live patrons and artists. Our decision to leave was imposed on us by the financial pressure of increased rent. Nevertheless, in hindsight it was the right choice given what the live music industry has endured the last three years. “2261” will always remain a special place in our hearts, but as the music industry responds to massive structural changes brought on by the pandemic, technological innovation and other factors, Hugh’s Room Live must adapt and take this opportunity to build for the future.  As audiences return to live performance, we want to fulfill our vision: to be the recognized leading intimate small to mid-sized concert venue for established and emerging artists. But we have dreams of being so much more.

What Happened The Last Few Years

In 2021 we gathered a group of Hugh’s Room Live stakeholders to take a deep dive into our what the future looks for our community and we came away with some big ideas.  At the same time, we successfully stage over 100 performances – at first virtually and as live performance returned we programmed Hugh’s Room artists at several venues in the west end of Toronto. With the support of agencies such as FACTOR, The Canada Council for The Arts and Ontario Creates we presented through 2022 and into 2023  a wide range of shows at partner venues such as 3030 Dundas West, Revival in Little Italy, Tranzac in the Annex and The Paradise Theatre on Bloor. This allowed us to keep supporting artists while bringing back live music to our dedicated (and patient) audiences while continuing our search for a new home.

Where We Arrived

After a great deal of effort, indefatigable tenacity, a false start or two, and the generous support of over 1000 donors and supporters in the Hugh’s Room Live community in July of 2023 we secured our new home at 296 Broadview Avenue in the East Chinatown/Riverdale neighbourhood in Toronto’s East End. Securing our own venue was always the only path to success and the growth of Hugh’s Room Live. We did it through community based and grassroots financing. We did it thanks to you.

What We’ll Do Now We’re Here

Now Hugh’s Room is back, we of course want to do and be everything we were before – creating a wonderful convivial listening room for fans and the great artists who grace our stage. But we have even bigger plans. Bigger visions call for more space. Our goal is to become the hub or meeting place for Toronto’s diverse music community. Our new venue will allow us to engage more fully with community groups and partners, offer educational programs, studio space and masterclasses and provide opportunities for artists for all disciplines and all communities. Our first priority was to open for live music and we have done so – presenting over 60 concerts in the remainder of 2023 with many more to come. We hope you will join us.

The Hugh’s Room Live Team

Brian Iler, Board Chair

Brian is a cofounder of Iler Campbell LLP, a community organizations activist, cofounder of the Northwind Folk Festival, and music lover who has played an integral part in bringing back Hugh’s Room Live.

Jim Thomas, President

A Director of HRL since 2019, Jim is a jazz flautist who has decades of senior management experience in business and government, including Ontario Deputy Minister positions. 

Quisha Wint

Board Member

Quisha is President of QW Productions Corp., a leading recording studio, and is an accomplished songstress, performer, arranger and singer-songwriter. Quisha serves on the Hugh’s Room Live Programming Committee.

Ron Westray

Board Member

An American jazz trombonist, composer and educator, Ron has played with the Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra since its inception in 1993. He is a member of the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin and was appointed to the Oscar Peterson Chair in jazz performance at York University in 2009.

Adam Moffat

Board Member

Adam is an accomplished producer, curator, programmer and arts manager based in Toronto. He is currently Manager of Performance Programs at the Royal Ontario Museum, and has produced hundreds of events, including with (but not limited to) the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, National Arts Centre and Kaha:wi Dance Theatre

MJ Perry

Board Member

MJ Perry is Vice-President and Owner of Mr. Discount. She is founder of WTFest and a member of the Board of the Empire Club of Canada. Her current semi-retirement project is to complete a PhD, and she is helping HRL forge new partnerships and reach new communities.

Michael Capotosto CPA

Board Member

In addition to holding multiple past CFO positions in the hospitality industry, including expansions of Prime Restaurants and The Great Canadian Bagel, Michael is a Toronto musician who plays with several bands and serves as the Hugh’s Room Live Board as Treasurer.

Barbara Jesson

Board Member

A seasoned marketing strategist, Barbara brings a wealth of Marketing and Communications expertise to the Board. She has worked with many of the world’s leading brands including Lufthansa, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Lockheed Martin, Labatts, Glenfiddich and Japan Tourism. Barbara chairs the Hugh’s Room Live Marketing Committee.

Laura Fernandez

Board Member

Laura Fernandez is the host of Cafe Latino on JAZZ.FM91 and a tireless advocate for Canadian artists and particularly for those in the Hispano-Canadian community. An accomplished visual artist and musician her latest album Ok, Alright was released in 2020. Laura is also an award winning real estate broker and a key leader in the search for a new Hugh’s Room venue. In 2015 she was named one of the “10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians”.

Richard Carson

Chair Emeritus

Richard started Hugh’s Room in 2001 in honour of his late brother, Hugh. He managed it until 2017 and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to HRL.

Staff

Michael Booth

Executive Director

A former member of the Hugh’s Room Board, Michael assumed the role of Interim Executive Director for Hugh’s Room Live in October of 2022. Former Operations Director for JAZZ.FM91 and Policy Advisor on the Culture and Entertainment Industries for Toronto Mayor David Miller, Michael brings decades of experience in venue operation and event production to Hugh’s Room Live.

Mary Stewart

Artistic Director

Former manager of the acclaimed Lynn Crawford restaurant Ruby Watchco, Mary joined HRL in 2018 as General Manager. As a musician, she has performed at the club and knows the music community. Mary served as General Manager until becoming the Hugh’s Room Artistic Director upon the acquistion of 296 Broadview.

 

This project is funded in part by FACTOR, the Government
of Canada and Canada's private radio broadcasters.
Ce projet est finance en partie par FACTOR, le gouvernement
du Canada et les radiodiffuseurs privés du Canada.

Contact Us

Charitable Number

730001 8496 RR0001