Good news for patrons of Toronto’s Australia New Zealand Club, aka The Tranzac (292 Brunswick). The bustling Annex gem housed in a rambling old building in the heart of the Annex is not going anywhere in the foreseeable future. In fact, it seems to be on track and planning to renovate.
Since late September’s announcement of the Tranzac’s desperate need for funding, the board, staff and volunteers have been raising money through donations, a membership drive and special events, with a goal of raising $40,000 by the New Year.
According to General Manager Michael Liston, the club is about halfway towards reaching its goal. A series of concerts and special events over the past few weeks have brought in approximately $6,000 in cover (more including bar sales), membership numbers have nearly doubled recently from 158 to 285, and online donations alone account for over $3,600 (there is also a donation box in the Southern Cross Lounge).
Last weekend’s Rock Plaza Central and Ohbijou concerts were particularly successful with RPC donating a table full of merch to the campaign and Ohbijou playing to a sold-out Main Hall. Poetry, comedy, jazz and NAGs Players theatre group fundraisers showed the investment diverse communities have in the Tranzac, and some Southern Cross Lounge performers offered up earnings from the pwyc jug at the end of their sets.
But the big news coming out of the Tranzac’s current fundraising campaign is that it is finally in a position to receive a City of Toronto Culture Build Grant that has been on hold for three years pending the club’s ability to come up with its half (it is a matching funds grant). An as-yet anonymous lender has offered to help the club re-finance its mortgage, enabling the Tranzac to leverage $46,000 towards the $92,000 capital grant.
Liston explains that though this is great news, the caplital grant is for the building the Tranzac still needs fundraising revenue to cover operational expenses including payroll, utilities and the mortgage. “You can have all the capital grants in the world,” he says. “But if you can’t pay the heating bill, you don’t have a venue.”
The grant will allow the Tranzac to deal with structural essentials such as roof repair, while also making the place more attractive to potential users. Projects up for discussion include greening the building through better insulation (there are a number of single pane windows), improving accessibility, perennially discussed soundproofing between rooms, and renovating the Main Hall.
Liston emphasized that it’s not too late to get involved in the fundraising campaign. “We’re still very much in need of volunteers,” he says, “and it’s still a good time to become a member.” Upcoming fundraising concerts include One Hundred Dollars and The Pining on December 10, a birthday tribute to banjo player John Hartford December 28, headed up by Chris Coole (Foggy Hogtown Boys, The Good Right Arm String Band) and featuring members of New Country Rehab, and the ever-popular New Year’s Eve party.
The just-announced lineup for this year’s New Year’s bash includes Hooded Fang, Light Fires, Sandro Perri, I Am Robot And Proud, Octoberman and The Wilderness of Manitoba.
Sarah Greene hosts the Tranzac’s Monday night open stage once a month, and also plays regularly in the Southern Cross Lounge.