TORONTO — Iconic Canadian rock star Randy Bachman will be takin’ care of business, helping to inaugurate Toronto’s Koffler Centre for the Arts next month.
The singer-guitarist of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner, Overdrive fame is headlining the “Koffler Rocks!” fundraising concert on May 2 at the Artscape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St.
Also scheduled to perform are the Sadies and Melanie Fiona, among others.
The Koffler Centre has been in a nomadic mode since 2008. Its then-permanent home was lost when the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre (BJCC) was demolished, as part of a plan to rebuild and revitalize the BJCC campus. Koffer Centre maintains its head office in the Prosserman JCC’s Sherman campus and offers arts courses there, too.
Over the last four years, however, the arts institution has held its major exhibitions around town in makeshift locations when needed.
This October, the Koffler Centre will relocate to a new 4,600-square-foot gallery and office space at Artscape Youngplace facility “in the historic and newly renovated Beaux-Arts building on Shaw Street just north of Queen Street West in the heart of Toronto’s art and design district,” according to Tony Hewer, a spokesperson for the Koffler Centre.
“We will be the anchor tenant in a multi-use arts building with other arts/ cultural/ social /community organizations, artist studios and more. We have signed a five-year lease with Artscape with the option to renew,” he wrote to The CJN in an email.
Hewer said the new downtown space, along with the centre’s administrative offices at the Prosserman JCC, will give the Koffler “a presence all across the GTA.”
The centre also runs arts classes out of the new Schwartz/Reisman Centre in Vaughan, Ont.
Proceeds from the Koffler Rocks! Event will go toward the move to the new space downtown.
Earlier this month, the Koffler Centre received a $150,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation “for all the building renovations and fit-up for our new Koffler Gallery and office spaces at Artscape Youngplace,” Hewer said.
In an email, Bachman told The CJN he was excited to participate in the gala and help further the cause of the Jewish, arts-based non-profit.
“I had done several charity shows in Montreal a few years ago just before Chanukah to raise money for Jewish hospitals and extended old-folks care. The people were amazing, the charity event was a huge success, and I was warmly embraced both personally and professionally. It rocked!” he wrote.
Asked what tunes the audience could expect him to play, Bachman said he planned to “celebrate the modern rock Jewish writers who have inspired me – Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Paul Simon, Leiber and Stoller, etc.”
As a Mormon growing up in Winnipeg, Bachman said he was raised alongside Jews who positively influenced his life.
“I grew up in Winnipeg in a Jewish community. I went to the YMHA and loved it because all my friends went swimming there, and they had great dances, which I eventually performed at. The family strength and unity, respect for the elders and parents seemed very similar to me,” he said.
Together with performances of live music, the Koffler Rocks! evening also includes a cocktail reception showcasing artists’ works from Koffler education programs and a gourmet kosher dining experience. The event is hosted by the award-winning and bestselling author of Born to Kvetch, Michael Wex.
For more information, visit www.kofflerarts.org