the phoenix

Closed concert venue in Toronto on the hook for $45k a month in rent

Ah, concerts — remember those? Thanks to the pandemic and consequent business closures, not only have they been on hold in Toronto for an entire year, but there are some venues we'll never get to see one in again.

We lost the MOD Club, the Hideout, the Boat and at least 13 others, and almost lost even more, including the Hard Luck and the Orbit Room, which are still in very financially precarious straits as lockdown continues.

And now, another iconic Toronto spot for live shows is proving to be extremely at risk, on the hook for $45,000 a month in rent alone while it's been over a year since its last event.

The Phoenix Concert Theatre, a long-running staple on Sherbourne between Carlton and Wellesley, last opened its doors to the public on March 13, 2020, after which management was only expecting a few weeks or maybe months of lockdown, as all of us naively were.

The 18,000 square foot, 1,000+ capacity establishment has been getting by with governmental subsidies like the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, its co-owner and president told CBC's Q this week, as well as years of future bookings that continue to be rescheduled as we wait to resume such normal life activities.

"If I knew then that it was going to be a year of closure, I don't know that I would have had this strength or courage or fortitude to keep going," she told the news outlet, expressing concern for the even smaller venues that are more vulnerable and also perhaps more integral to up-and-coming artists who can't yet book bigger stages.

The future of the Pheonix itself is, of course, also at stake, with the government apparently telling them live music events won't be returning until fall 2021, or perhaps even next year.

And in the meantime, scraping by for another few months seems at this point to be impossible — but something that businesses will just somehow have to do if at all feasible, and face permanent closure if not.

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