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Historic Massey Hall Secures Funding Boost From Ontario Government

The Ontario government is investing $4 million ($3.16 USD) in phase two of the revitalization of Toronto's historic Massey Hall, the 123-year-old theatre.

The Ontario government is investing $4 million ($3.16 USD) in phase two of the revitalization of Toronto’s historic Massey Hall, the 123-year-old theatre where Neil Young, Rush, Bob Dylan, Bryan Adams and Justin Bieber, as well as the late Glenn Gould, George Gershwin, Igor Stravinsky, Johnny Cash and Luciano Pavarotti have all played. Gordon Lightfoot, notably, has graced its stage more than 150 times.

The multi-million dollar contribution builds on the province’s previous $8 million investment to phase one, which includes construction of a foundation for the new south tower. To complete the project, the 2765-seat venue will be closed from the summer of 2018 to the fall of 2020.  It typically holds about 100 cultural events a year, from music to comedy.  

The total cost of the 7-year revitalization is $135 million ($107M USD).

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The new announcement was made today by Eleanor McMahon, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and Charles Sousa, Ontario’s Minister of Finance. Juno Award-winning alternative rock band July Talk, which has three shows at Massey Hall in December, was also on hand.

“I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the Government of Ontario for this investment in the Massey Hall revitalization. We are off to a great start,” Deane Cameron, president and CEO, The Corporation of Massey Hall & Roy Thomson Hall, said in a statement. “The demonstrated support we’ve felt from so many Ontario legislators has been incredible and this strategic investment accelerates the project closer to the $110 million dollars needed to complete proper restoration of this iconic cultural institution and update it to 21st century standards.”

Massey Hall
Massey Hall in Toronto.  Steve Russell/Getty Images

The revitalization is made possible because of the 2012 transfer of 4,804 square feet of land to the south of Massey Hall by Toronto’s MOD Developments and Tricon Capital Group Inc., allowing the expansion and improvements.

“Massey Hall holds an unforgettable place in the history of Ontario’s arts and culture scene,” said McMahon in a statement. “This iconic venue with its unique character and prime location has hosted many of the greatest musicians of all time, and I am pleased that this investment in the revitalization of Massey Hall will help preserve its incredible history for future generations to experience and discover.”

Souza added that it will create jobs.

Phase one will run until 2018 for a cost of $32 million, including an $8 million commitment from the federal government, $1 million each from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and TD Bank Group, and more than $1 million from individual donors. Phase two runs from 2019 to 2021 for more than $100 million.

The renos in the first phase includes modernization of back of house, the first-ever loading dock for the venue, and backstage artist space. Phase two will include refurbishment of the interior and exterior of Massey Hall, an expansion about the new foundation of two levels of enhanced, accessible patron amenities, such as elevators, new washrooms, lobby, bar and hospitality/rental spaces.