Dear Tranzac Members,
We know that the uncertainty of our current times has left you with a lot of questions regarding the Tranzac's operations. So here is an update that we hope answers some of your concerns. Firstly, we want you to know that our board is made up of a group of dedicated individuals who have been working tirelessly to ensure that we remain standing when the Covid-19 dust clears. We have been meeting via Zoom bi-monthly to discuss and plan our strategy as new information becomes available. One of our longtime board members, Rebecca Campbell, has also been very active with local and national coalitions of small music venues, gathering the most up to date information and keeping the board apprised as well as lending our voice in lobbying for much needed government assistance.
Unfortunately, it was necessary to lay off all of our staff when we closed. We would like to thank all of you who contributed to our staff fund to assist them with any hardships they may face over and above the CERB payments they are currently receiving. All staff were given an equal payment at the onset of the crisis to ensure they had a small amount to tide them over until their government assistance kicked in. The remaining funds are being held in trust for any further assistance they might need in the future. If you want to contribute to this fund you can send funds via https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8nS96YYuHn
If you would prefer to send an e-transfer please send one to board member Brenna MacCrimmon at email@example.com and please put "Tranzac staff relief fund" in the message field.
We have recently re-hired our general manager, Paul Woodley, through Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). I would like to take this opportunity to thank Paul as well as all the staff members who without pay have continued to support the Club. Many of you have been in communication with Adam Bradley, who has continued to periodically monitor his Main Hall booking mailbox, as well as Sarah Greene, who in addition to remaining available to handle Southern Cross booking inquiries has also kept members in the loop via our weekly newsletter, social media and website and co-hosted our Monday night open mic virtually via Zoom. Linds Toner, Emily Green and Colin Puffer have been diligently tending to our garden and other staff members have rolled up their sleeves to help out with various fix-up projects Paul has been spearheading. As you all know, the Tranzac is not just a place of employment for our staff, and their commitment and loyalty during this time has been touching to see.
At the beginning of this crisis we did apply for and receive the CEBA loan of $40,000 and this has helped us pay for our operating costs (special thanks to David Eady for taking care of the application process!). We have been closely monitoring our finances, but as you can well imagine it is only a matter of time before we run out of our very modest holdings. That being said we are constantly looking for ways to access any funds available. Currently we are working to apply for federal emergency relief funding, which is being offered by Canadian Heritage and administered by FACTOR. If our application is successful, this will contribute to our operating expenses. Given our unique position in the cultural landscape (i.e. that we are not a direct presenter but instead are considered a rental venue) we are doing our best to meet their very specific criteria. It is our hope that even if we do not receive this funding, we can make a strong case for why the government needs to think more outside of the box if they are to protect institutions like ours that are the lifeblood of the cultural landscape. If you want to help, please write to your government representatives to ensure that we and others like us don’t fall through the cracks of their Covid-19 planning.
Despite the funding limbo we find ourselves in, we are not without hope. As you can well imagine, the Tranzac’s property in the heart of the Annex is very valuable. Although we would prefer not to increase our current mortgage debt, we are lucky to have that as an option. Our current mortgage is held with David Walsh through his Community Counts organization. Currently our mortgage payments go directly into assisting other worthwhile organizations such as SKETCH, Common Table Program at Flemingdon Park, Friendly Spike Theatre Band, Henri Nouwen Society, FaithTech, PACT Urban Peace Program, Secret Handshake Arts Program, One City Peterborough, and Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC). Should we exhaust all other avenues of support we have been given assurance by Mr. Walsh that he will agree to a refinance to offset our costs. We do not take this lightly and will make a close analysis of these choices to ensure we don’t jeopardize the long-term prospects of the organization.
In the meantime, we’re looking to make lemonade out of lemons in the form of renovations. Just prior to this calamity we were dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on a grant application requesting matching funds to do some long-needed renovations. You may have been a part of a long running fundraising campaign to pay for soundproofing between our Main Hall and Southern Cross rooms. You may think that those funds have been absorbed into this current crisis but they have not. Instead we have been holding funds along with money obtained through a previous refinance in order to not only complete the soundproofing project but also to complete other much needed renovations to our roof and other parts of the building. Since the lockdown began we also added things to our wish list to sustain us through this time, including live stream equipment. Our application for these matching funds is currently being reviewed by the Cultural Spaces Fund through Canadian Heritage. Should we receive these matching funds, we will move ahead with these projects to ensure that we are in a good position to move forward on the right foot once our doors are open again. In the meantime, we have been given the go-ahead to begin projects prior to confirmation of matching funds. This is of course with the caveat that, should we not receive funds, we would be responsible for the full cost of the project. With this in mind, the board has decided to move ahead with the sound proofing project only. We feel that all the work and community support that went into raising the funds should not be in vain. Also, the fact that we’re closed makes this an ideal time to do these particular renovations. This project is being spearheaded by our second-vice president Ruth Wilford who is herself an independent contractor. She will not be doing the work herself but she will be overseeing our chosen contractor. Work is set to commence imminently. Should we not receive this matching grant money then the board will continue to assess our needs before we take on any of the other projects.
This brings me to the FAQ portion of my message. The following are the questions we receive most often from members of our community.
When do you plan to reopen?
The only answer we can give on this, unsatisfactory as it may be, is we just don’t know. There are options for reopening now as Toronto moved into Stage 3 on Friday but there are a lot of limitations involved. We would only be able to have a maximum of 50 people in the entire building. Plexiglass dividers are required in front of and between performers. In addition, a lot of care (and supervision) is required to ensure social distancing and masking requirements are obeyed and this is made an even bigger challenge when you factor in the consumption of alcohol by patrons. So, after weighing the costs involved in upgrades, staffing, the purchase of bar stock etc... as well as the risk that a contamination or a second wave could set us back even further, we agreed to take a more cautious approach and wait a bit longer. In addition to this, as mentioned above, we thought a better use of this time of uncertainty was to, within the means available to us, upgrade the facility. Beyond any major renovation, Paul has been busy with a long list of small repairs, painting and organizing throughout the building.
Will you open a patio?
Sorry to disappoint you but after many discussions, the answer is no. As above the costs involved versus the potential revenue just don’t work out to be cost effective. In addition to this, it is important to us to maintain good relations with our residential neighbours. A patio risks being a nuisance for the neighbourhood in an already stressful time. Beyond that, we are not a bar, we are an arts organization and the limited space and the stringent restrictions would not be conducive to creating a place where art could be presented, so we don't think it's currently worth pursuing.
Why don’t you obtain charitable status?
This question has come up many times, long before Covid-19, and to be honest it hasn’t been pursued because there has always been something more pressing to deal with. Although clearly that is still the case, we do understand that this status could incentivize more people to donate to the club now when we need it the most. We have been discussing this option in our board meetings and decided it is worth looking at more closely. We are willing to go through the steps necessary to complete the process but we want to make sure that it is the right step for us. If you have any special expertise around this process and think you can walk us through all the various considerations specific to our property, our liability etc... we would love to hear from you.
Hopefully all your questions and concerns have been answered here. If not, please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that the email@example.com account, which is linked to this previous address, has experienced some glitches since we changed web hosts and I discovered that some emails did not get routed through to my Gmail inbox. If you tried to reach me and received no reply, my sincerest apologies, please use this alternate address. Know that all our board members are doing the best we can to make decisions that best serve our entire community so please do not hesitate to make your ideas known and we will ensure that they are discussed in our meetings. I also want to remind you that our AGM will be held in October and we would love to see you there. In all likelihood this will happen via Zoom, which will hopefully make it easier for more of you to attend. Stay tuned for details as we come closer to the date.
A very big thank you to all of you who renewed your memberships, became members, and/or gave donations since we were forced to close our doors. The combined value of these comes in at around $10,000, which is approximately equivalent to one month of our hard costs during the pandemic, and that is exactly where those funds are being used. If you haven’t given but are able, we urge you to do so asap so that we can factor this into our future plans. You can do so by sending an e-transfer to our general manager, Paul Woodley, at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a donate button (through PayPal) on the About Us and Contact Us pages of our website. If you are uncertain of the status of your membership, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you soon to let you know whether it is time to renew.
Finally, on a personal note, I miss you all so very much. I long for the day I can sit at the bar and be blown away by super talented people. I mourn the loss of sharing the stage with my own bandmates (Collette Savard and the Savants) to play for the amazing people who regularly support us. I won’t, however, nor will anybody in this organization, give up on getting through to the other side of this crisis intact. So if you lie awake at night worried that the Tranzac will become a memory, stop fretting. We are going to make it through this together just as we have so many other crises. We are not strangers to teetering on the edge and this has made us resilient and adaptable. We will see you all again soon!
All the best,