Annex fixture facing bankruptcy

The Tranzac club in the Annex needs to raise $40,000 by the end of the month to continue operating. The venue has kicked off 'Save the Tranzac,' a fundraising campaign that includes benefit shows scheduled through to the new year. (SAMSONTranzacPICE)

A member of the Tranzac board says the high cost of maintenance may drive the cultural fixture into bankruptcy.

The Tranzac board of directors recently announced that it must raise $40,000 by the end of December in order to stay open next year. Board member Stuart Duncan says it took less than a decade for the Annex fixture to go from breaking even to losing over $30,000 a year. Like many not-for-profit and member-operated organizations, the Tranzac was hit hard by the recession.

“We had to fix roofs and replace furnaces and none of that is cheap,” Duncan said.

Last month the club ramped up its fundraising campaign. It hosted a series of benefit concerts, plays and poetry slams, with more scheduled into early 2011. Of all the club’s efforts, Duncan suggests the membership drive will be a determining factor in the club’s success.

“A significant (number) of people come into this space and assume we’re just a regular bar like any other,” he said. “(But) the Tranzac is a member-supported space. You pay for membership so…The message (is) ‘We’re looking for new members.’”

The Toronto Zine Library, housed on the Tranzac’s top floor, has answered the call for new members. Library collective volunteer Rachel Chepesiuk said that its future is directly related to the venue

“We don’t have a large budget for rent and there’s absolutely no way we can afford to pay rent anywhere else,” she said. “We’re very dependent on the Tranzac I guess you could say, because of the opportunity they’ve given to us with this space.”

It’s the opportunities the space offered in terms of community engagement and friendship that attracted Carol Farkas to join the Tranzac in the first place. Farkas has been a member of the Tranzac for over 30 years. From bar mitzvahs to weddings, and even a Maori funeral, Farkas has fond memories of her time at the Tranzac.

A few years ago, she was concerned that the space was losing that sense of community. But these days, even with financial ruin looming, she says the outlook is hopeful thanks to the current board of directors.

“They’ve got a dynamic direction,” she said. “We’re going to have a lot of exciting things coming up.”

Given the chance, the board and the club’s membership hope to make better use of the space during the day in 2011. For example, Farkas said she’d like to “get the seniors singing circle going.”

She believes it would be a shame to lose the Tranzac now after all the effort the board has made to rebuild its image as an accessible community hub.

To date, Duncan says the board has raised about $22,000 and has solicited 100 new paid memberships. That means the club’s roughly halfway to its fundraising goals with just days left until the new year.

To contribute to the Tranzac visit or stop by the space at 292 Brunswick Ave.