When Ohio’s stay-at-home order was signed in March, it brought to a screeching halt all concerts across the state. Even more so, restaurants and other local venues were forced to shut down and/or shunt their business plans, with many having to lay off or furlough their employees.
Relief has been difficult to come by for many of these locations, and some local venues and business have been forced to permanently close, with negative income and no future cash-flow in sight. Rent and utilities still have to be paid on these locations even though they are closed, and some live month-to-month just hoping to get by.
I have seen several places trying to crowd-fund the money needed to stay afloat. The Electric Co. in Mansfield is one of those venues, and when Mike Coletti from New Age Connect saw their struggles, and idea popped into his head.
“I kept seeing venues posting about how they are struggling with stores closing left and right,” he said. “I knew I had the ability from my NAC interviews to do something entertaining that could help bring awareness and help to save the venues.”
“I thought, what are we going to do if we finally get to play shows again but we have nowhere to play?”
A terrifying thought, indeed. Many venues around town, like The Electric Co. do not qualify for relief from the state, and because they do not serve food they are not able to generate any income. No ticket sales, no alcohol, no bueno.
Coletti and the NAC gang immediately jumped on board with the idea of turning the GoFundMe into a raffle. But he decided to take things a step further from there, and make it an interactive effort. Within a few hours of posting his idea, he had over 70 bands willing to chip in a song for a virtual artist showcase.
“We have a three hour playlist that features nothing but locals. The stream will play the tracks while everyone hangs out in the comment section, discovering new artists and calling attention to this and other fundraisers,” he continued.
Currently, New Age Connect is looking to secure sponsors, effectively turning the donations into a raffle. Electric Co. owner Colton Ulery has already promised to treat anyone who donates to a free show, as well as happy hour parties and free tickets to other shows, while Acathla Clothing and Cleveland’s Sink the Ship are offering merchandise and CD prizes, as well.
The showcase will be held Friday (May 29) from 7-10 p.m. Coletti says he’s hoping to be able to get some of the bands on the stream to talk about their tracks, and will be talking to Ulery himself, as well. He hopes to make this a semi-regular thing to help save struggling venues around town. As it stands, he’s already started putting together another list of songs for a second showcase at a date to be determined.
“All we can do is hope that the concept sticks, and that other people will be able to jump on board,” he finished.
I know that the life-span of a lot of these venues can be quite short, but I’d hate to lose any of them, especially the ones that are chock-full of local bands every weekend (and during the week, too). We as a community need to do any and everything we can to make sure that we take care of our own, especially since we aren’t able to support these venues in person. If anything, we need more venues to showcase the great acts that this state has to offer.
I know I personally cannot wait until shows return, but I’ve been pleased with the amount of goodwill and support that I’ve seen around Ohio during these times. Let’s keep that attitude going until we are able to rock out together again, friends.
If you want a sneak peak of the playlist, you can find it here on Spotify.