Guest Editorial – By: Karli Ingersoll
Live music has power. It can be difficult to put into words its power and why we enjoy live music so much, but it becomes truly undeniable at the very moment when you enter your favorite venue to see your favorite band. There’s nothing like that excitement and anticipation.
It has been more than seven months since we had that excitement in Washington State. Tours have been postponed, album release shows canceled, venues sit empty, and opportunities for musicians have dried up almost completely.
When my partner and I opened our first music venue, The Bartlett in 2013, we wanted to create a space for artists from all over the world to share their music with this community. On small stages, artists have an opportunity to bare their souls and connect in a unique way with the audience. These moments are unforgettable. They create lasting connections and shared memories. Since opening our new venue, Lucky You Lounge, and then sadly closing The Bartlett, we have remained consistent in our mission to create a platform for artists to have shared experiences with the community through live music. Now we face the stark reality that Spokane might not come out of COVID with any small spaces dedicated to live music.
Venues for live music in Spokane, and across the state, were some of the first places to close and will be the last to get back to fully operating. With the loss of live music comes massive loss of revenue, loss of jobs and loss of culture.
Losing our venues in Spokane is not unfamiliar territory. We’ve seen small venues come and go. We’ve gone through serious live music droughts in the past. But pre-pandemic we were at the precipice of something special. We were seeing a level of vibrancy with our local music scene that was new and important. Great touring acts were coming through and venues were operating at a level of quality and equity that Spokane hasn’t seen before.
When our live music scene thrives in Spokane it means our economy and small businesses thrive too. When a fan buys a ticket to a show at a venue, they typically spend $32 in the local economy on top of the ticket price. Considering that Washington’s small- to medium-sized music venues sold more than 3.2 million tickets in 2019, it’s a big economic impact not just here in our town but across every community in Washington.
It’s time to scroll back through your photos app and spend some time remembering how much live music has impacted you. Since March it’s something I’ve done often. It makes me recognize the impact live music has had on my own life. It has given me joy, friendship, motivation, life. It has nursed my broken heart time and time again and made me think about the world in new and different ways. That’s why I’m proud to be a part of Keep Music Live.
Keep Music Live is a COVID-19 relief fund for small, independently-owned venues across Washington state. Formed by music lovers, Keep Music Live aspires to raise more than $10 million to provide relief grants to hometown, community-based music venues, with the capacity of less than 1,000 guests.
It has now been eight months since music venues had to shut their doors, and it’s unclear when we will be able to reopen. A survey by the Washington Nightlife and Music Association found that without financial relief, 63% of Washington’s independent venues will permanently close by February. Losing these community gathering spaces and stages would be devastating to our community and the greater music ecosystem.
We can’t give up on live music. Our community needs it. Our friends and neighbors need it. Our businesses need it, and our world needs it. We must come together. We must keep music live.
Karli Ingersoll is co-owner of Lucky You Lounge in Spokane. Learn more about Keep Music Live at www.KeepMusicLiveWA.com.
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