Rachel Otwell (NPR IL): “On The Romance & Reality of Black Sheep” + FAQ’s

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Sure, you may be hearing some rumors on the current state of our venue The Black Sheep so now may be an appropriate time to address them.

As many of you know, our four owners (Brian + Clare + Drew + and BJ) made a public cry for help and an update on the state of things on our facebook group which you can find right here. The post generated a lot of discussion. From the original post:

We are not looking for just cash donations, or to make a kickstarter page or anything like that. There are a lot of great people in our community that totally support everything we are doing (which is great!), but more so are doing so from the sidelines. Really we just need to see support in the form of people coming out. And of course it was great having that Noisey article this past week, the MU330 show was also great, but the average show here has become an average of 4-5 people showing up and us having to apologize to touring bands to come from across the country to play at a space and community that they only hear good things about.

Rachel Otwell of NPR Illinois wrote a reflection piece on the state of things at Black Sheep on the NPR IL site you can find right here. Here’s a bit from that piece:

My sincere hope as an advocate for art in this city is that we will continue to make this miracle of miracles work. Surely there are more people like me out there. People who maybe aren’t going to attend multiple shows a month, even – but can recognize and value this space for what it is. People who know they are welcome and should show up as much as they ever feel they’d want to. For those of us who already love it – it’s time to show what true community is about and help support each other. Let’s get excited about what the future might bring if enough people come together to figure out how to keep this thing running. As romantic as the idea of this mecca of DIY/weirdo culture is – the reality is it is also really hard work, and it’s work best shared. Not every detail will be perfect, and there is always room for constructive feedback.

So what happens after this? A lot of you probably have a good amount of questions. We’ll do our best now to answer a few that we are being asked:

What can I do to help?
For those of you reaching out just looking to donate money – that is great, and while that IS very much an issue for us right now, the main issue is just people coming out and supporting what we are doing. The number one thing you can do to help us right now is to just come out. We just got done with a weekend of five shows in a row and unfortunately do not have a lot lined up after this at this point. Let’s make these next shows count. A lot of you are also reaching out asking to book certain types of shows, or if your band can play shows, etc. We appreciate all of that, but again the most important thing right now is just coming out to support what we have going on. We are very much open to new people setting up new events at our space, and oftentimes it is just best that you come out to discuss these ideas with us in person at some shows coming up! We will also likely be having a roundtable meeting at the beginning of September to further this discussion.

Is Black Sheep really closing? How soon will the venue shut down if it is?
We did not intend for this to come off as an announcement that we will be closing soon or even at all in the near future, more as a cry for help or warning before we do. If it is closing down, the matter of time before it does really is up to all of you in terms of coming out to shows. We are aware that this announcement has generated some buzz around our venue and some people stepping up to help, we are concerned that in the weeks to come that this buzz will go away and then we will really be in trouble. We are also concerned right now because usually the middle of winter is the hardest time of the year for us and the summer is usually the best, and this summer has been a struggle to get through to say the least.

Can my band play a show there? Can I help set up a show or workshop?
Yes, but please keep in mind that we are getting a lot of these messages and requests right now and again the main problem is people coming out. Really the best way to talk to us about your band playing is to just come out and talk to us! We also have a meeting being planned for the beginning of September.

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