As someone who lived in a DIY punk house for two years and played shows in many basements across the eastern seaboard, I’ve experienced the full spectrum of difficulties and rewards of involvement in the DIY scene firsthand. I’ve watched several DIY spaces in New York close since I moved to Michigan for school, and after the NYPD raided and shut down the infamous Market Hotel in mid 2016, then did the same at Shea Stadium in early 2017, it seemed like the remaining New York DIY spaces might be headed for oblivion.
However, both of these spaces have taken the necessary steps to ensure their survival, with the Market Hotel working with the City of New York to get up to code, and Shea Stadium launching a Kickstarter with a $50,000 goal to help fund their renovations and training to help them get up to code, a goal that was completely funded (and more) in only a few hours.
In the Kickstarter description, the space’s organizers detailed what people’s donations will go toward, with the overarching goal being to “make Shea a completely legal, 100% permitted venue to protect its future.”
Check out the full statement below:
Starting in January 2017 Shea began receiving a series of violations related to the legal use, zoning and licensing of our building. Some shows were interrupted, some were shut down and as a result, many were moved to other venues. There were no vacate orders given and our building was not condemned or deemed unsafe; we chose to shut down preemptively to prevent racking up more expensive fines and risking more serious repercussions.
A variety of governmental & political factors threaten the existence of spaces like Shea. We had always treated the possibility of a shutdown as inevitable but as we stare down the insanely powerful forces that stand between us and full legalization, we now know we owe it to the community to continue despite a long road ahead.
Shea is one of the last institutions of an entire generation of DIY music venues in New York City. Over the years we’ve been saddened to see our peers in all ages artist-run spaces like Death By Audio, Market Hotel, 285 Kent & Monster Island Basement have to shutter their doors due to a wide range of circumstances beyond their control.
When a space shuts down, musicians don’t just lose a place to play. Every space is the focal point of an entire ecosystem of artists that provide support & fosters creative action in the world.
And it’s not only the artistic community that loses out – the repercussions are felt on a much larger scale. A recent study done by the city of New York showed that small music venues generated $21 billion of revenue in 2015 alone. Yet since the year 2000 more small venues have closed than ever before, as the city’s increased regulation and inflated rents have made running these types of spaces an uphill climb.
Over the past eight years Shea’s become a space where people of all ages can go and know that they will be able to see their favorite artists not on a pedestal or behind barriers, but face to face where real connections are made. These connections change lives and open up doors of possibility to young people and aspiring artists in this city.
After the launch of the Kickstarter page, a variety of musicians that have graced the stage at Shea Stadium — including PWR BTTM, Sorority Noise’s Cam Boucher, Eskimeaux, and many more — quickly took to social media to voice their support for the space and urge their followers to donate to the cause.
DIY spaces are an invaluable part of artistic culture across the country, and their existence has helped millions of people — including myself — to find their passion and something to believe in. There’s no bigger proof of that than the fact that the space met their goal in a couple hours, but there will be plenty of other expenses in the wake of all this, so you should still consider donating to Shea Stadium’s Kickstarter here.