Ah, the new year, where hope springs eternal, and everyone gets to take stock of the previous year. Unfortunately for some venues, the financial reality of the past year sinks in. With the books closed for 2016, there’s been a bit of a bloodletting in Toronto, specifically for three venues: Hugh’s Room, Soybomb HQ, and The Hoxton.
Hugh’s Room abruptly shut down the first weekend of the new year. The club, which had been operating since 2001, canceled a show scheduled to happen on January 6th, 2017 and subsequently announced that they were temporarily ceasing operations effective immediately.
Owner Richard Carson told the Toronto Star that he was “basically insolvent” but that he has “not [yet] filed for bankruptcy”.
This is not the first time that the Hugh’s Room’s financial troubles have been apparent. In 2014, Carson launched a Kickstarter campaign to try and cover some of his business’ shortfall. Unfortunately, while that helped in the short-term, he seemingly was not able to overcome the outstanding issues with continuing to operate the venue.
Soybomb HQ, started in 2003, announced it was indefinitely suspending all new bookings on January 10th, 2017. The DIY-style venue first opened as a half-skatepark, half-music venue in which skaters could continue to use the halfpipe while bands were performing. While the skating no longer happens, that spirit had continued on in the venue’s legend.
While the reasons for the closing were not available at press time, there’s speculation that the closing might be related to the safety concerns and associated internet vigilantism stemming from the recent fire at Oakland’s Ghost Ship venue.
The Hoxton is the youngest venue to announce its closing; the venue dates back only to 2010. While the venue itself is closing, the owners Embrace announced via the venue’s Facebook page that they would continue to book talent throughout Toronto’s other venues.
According to NOW Magazine, the venue was closed due to the current 5 year lease on the space expiring, and the venue owners deciding not to opt into a shorter term lease. The owner of the property intends to eventually redevelop the site and did not want to enter into a longer commitment with The Hoxton.
The good news with The Hoxton at least is that they will remain open until the end of the month, so fans of the club will have a number of final parties to go to before they have to say goodbye.
The loss of these three venues will certainly be felt throughout the Toronto community. Not only are fans losing three popular venues, but the local musicians also suffer for having three fewer opportunities in the area to book gigs.
Of course, with two venues actively trying to reopen, and the third not yet closed, perhaps there is still hope yet upon the horizon. After all, we did manage to #savefabric.
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