Hugh’s Room Live Still needs your Help!

To date, close to 500 people have contributed a total of $144,121. That takes us more than halfway to our goal. We see this support as a strong and gratifying signal that we are in sync with the community. We all want to see this unique listening room remain vibrant and alive in our city. This first stage of fundraising has enabled the doors to re-open, beginning with Connie Kaldor’s sold-out concert on April 22.

To help us get through what will be a particularly difficult second half of our fundraising efforts, we have engaged the help of a phone canvass team to reach out to our closest supporters over the past few years. You may be contacted in the coming weeks as part of our outreach to make sure Hugh’s Room Live can thrive over the long term. Your help is vital – and very much appreciated! Thank you in advance for your support!

For those who are just hearing about the club’s struggle, here’s a bit of background:

When Richard Carson was forced to close the doors to his club in early January, it sent shock waves through the music community, in Toronto, across the country, and internationally.

Brian Iler, a regular patron of the club and friend to Richard, put out the call to a short list of community folks who were also regular patrons and fans of the club. The hope was that a collective effort might be able to rescue of the venue. A dedicated core group of 7 volunteers stayed the course over the ensuing months. These folks are: Brian Iler, lawyer, Brian Litvin, accountant and musician, Howard Gladstone, businessman and musician, Judith Laskin, retired school principal, co-founder of the Canadian Folk Music Awards (CFMA), Grit Laskin, guitarmaker, musician, co-founder of Borealis Records as well as the CFMAs, Rob Young, musician and businessman (media), Ross Robinson, blues concert promoter.

Parallel to the major fundraising campaign, this core team of unpaid volunteers, referring to themselves as the Working Group, began examining every aspect of the old Hugh’s Room club. First task was to take a hard look at the financial situation and determine if a viable business was indeed possible. The accountant on the Working Group confirmed that with careful management the viability was there.

Moving as quickly as possible the club received a needed cleanup; the kitchen was brought up to code, the heating/air conditioning was repaired, liquor licensing was renewed, suppliers were contacted, new ticketing software is in the process of being implemented and, perhaps most importantly, 90% of the original staff were re-hired.

The volunteer Board of the newly established Not-For-Profit corporation now in charge of the venue still needs to raise another $116,000 with our ultimate goal being $250,000.

Why so large an amount?

Hugh’s Room Live needs to be presenting a minimum of 20 shows per month in order to generate the revenue needed to support the ongoing costs of running the venue: rent, staff, supplies, etc. Our new Music Programmer, Derek Andrews, is pulling out all the stops to fill in dates. That’s been an uphill battle after the three and half month long shut down. Artists plan far ahead and booking them can’t happen on short notice. We expect to be up to the necessary 20-22 concerts per month by the fall of this year. Until then the reality is the new entity, Hugh’s Room Live, is technically in startup mode. All the money we need to raise is a simple necessity to allow us to pay bills until the club can be self-sustaining.

If you have already donated, please accept our heartfelt thanks. If you feel you can contribute additional funds, we naturally encourage you to do so! And please continue to pass the word to friends and family, especially to people you know who have attended concerts at the club in the past and who show any inclination to be supportive.

The simplest way to donate is via the donate section of our website.

Future plans:

The club will continue to showcase an eclectic mix of performers, Folk, Blues, Jazz, World, Classical. We have also begun reaching out to other groups, exploring bringing author readings, perhaps even comedy. As well, we intend to open the venue up to community groups, who could make use of the daytime space on dark days or even before any afternoon equipment load-in for an evening concert.

In September, once the operating Board is fully established, the Working Group disbanded, and the corporation’s governance structures are set and functioning, we will begin offering various levels of membership.


Brian Iler, Howard Gladstone, Judith Laskin, Grit Laskin, Brian Litvin, Rob Young