When Hugh’s Room Live resolved to enlarge its focus from a performance venue to a music-focussed community centre, we also resolved to undertake an inclusive approach to the creation of facilities and programming in our new space. We aim to consult and collaborate with other agencies, organizations, businesses and services, and we initiated a series of listening consultations that will continue.
We began by consulting with artists. Quisha Wint of Canadian Black Entertainment and a member of the Hugh’s Room Board, advised that most artists consider Hugh’s Room Live to be one of the more inclusive performance venues. We learned from others who had either performed at HRL or who aspired to perform on our stage that this was a common sentiment in indigenous and sexually and gender oppressed communities. Entertainers from various identities that we have presented included Dan Hill, Jully Black, Molly Johnson, Kelly Lee Evans, Shakura S’Aida, Quisha, T. Thomason and Alyssa Delbere-Sawchuck. Determined to carry forward our commitment, HRL partnered with the Empire Club of Canada in 2021 at its annual Black History Month with a panel discussing the history, challenges and varieties of Black music.
Our goal is to provide a space for all communities to engage with music creation and performance. For the first time ever, we will be able to provide a space providing independent physical accessibility to individuals who face barriers in other spaces. To that end, we are developing a Board and management structure that will give voice to the lived experiences of our communities. We are determined to continue to include all within Hugh’s Room Live, and we are determined to hear ourselves referred to repeatedly as a place of inclusion and to provide role models for all.