With just months away from shutting down, a GoFundMe campaign has been launched to save Hermann’s Jazz Club, a Victoria staple and Canada’s longest continuously running jazz club.
First opened on View Street by Hermann Nieweler in 1981, Hermann’s Jazz Club has been one of the city’s favourite venues for jazz musicians, from professionals to amateurs and everything in between.
But the historic club could soon become a memory without the support of the community.
With rising costs threatening to close down the venue, the non-profit Jazz on View Society has reached a signed agreement to lease Hermann’s for the next five years, if $75,000 can be raised by April 15th.
If the funds can not be raised in time, it is likely that club will close its doors for good.
A family legacy
“If the money can’t be raised by April and there’s no other way forward, the money will go back to the people that put it in,” said Jazz on View Society chairman, Bill Turner. “The family would have no choice but to close it down.”
But, Turner says that the society will do everything it can to keep the club open even if the exact goal is not meant.
“For instance, if we raised $73,000 instead of $75,000 we’d probably find a way to lease the building. We’d probably crawl on broken glass for the owners.”
Turner added that the club’s owners, the late Hermann Nieweler’s children, are “deeply committed” to the club and will also do whatever they can to keep it open.
A legendary venue
The club is an important space for musicians on the island and beyond, averaging 400 performances a year. The club also serves as a launching pad for performers, including 52 Juno award winners, like Diana Krall and Michael Bublé.
“It’s been a place of development for people who have started out, not only for those who are big names but also for the highschool bands that play there and have the opportunity to play in a professional setting and not in a school auditorium,” said Turner.
“The jam nights that [Tom Vickery] has done for 35 years or so has have given amatures a chance to play with pros. Those are the things that would suffer.”
The GoFundMe campaign, Save Hermann’s, runs until April 15th, and at the time of publication has raised nearly $34,000.
“[The hope] is that people make small donations that they can afford and together as a group we fund the whole thing,” said Turner.