PROVO — A recent fundraiser raised over $2,500 for Muse Music Cafe and saved the venue from possible eviction and closure.
Provo resident Debby Phillips said she and friend Darcie Roy bought a majority share of Muse Music Cafe in June 2012. While the original owners retained a 20 percent share, Phillips and Roy managed the music venue and began making plans for its future.
When the owner who had managed and done advertising for the recording studio moved to Los Angeles, Phillips said they couldn’t find anyone to run the recording studio at a profitable rate so they converted it into a rehearsal space. However, Phillips said the rehearsal room hasn’t quite launched yet, and with a slow summer for concerts, the venue struggled to make money.
“If we didn’t have the double hit of the studio (closing) and then the slow summer, we wouldn’t have ended up in the situation that we’re in,” Phillips said. “But the reality of an all-ages venue, especially one on University Avenue which is prime real estate, is that we are never going to make money. We are really just shooting to break even.”
Phillips said she and Roy want to keep Muse Music Cafe open to give local bands experience and to bring the community together.
“We both have a passion for music and we want to make sure that the local scene has every opportunity to develop their skills, whether that be a new band learning how a venue runs and how a show actually works or learning professionalism,” she said. “Even just having a place for those brand new bands having a place to play their very first show. Because Velour tends to have bands with more experience. So Muse is a really important jumping-off point for musicians.”
Struggling to pay utilities and rent for the venue, Roy created an online *fundraising account to avoid possible eviction and closure. The GoFundMe account reached the $2,500 goal Sunday and Phillips said it was a “huge weight lifted off their shoulders.”
“It was a very difficult decision for us to do the fundraising campaign,” Phillips said. “I have years and years of business experience and I know that I’m good with managing our money and we’re maximizing everything we possibly can. To have to ask people for money is really hard. But they always say if you ask for help, you’ll be surprised at the results. … There are so many people that care about Muse and understand what we are trying to do with it.”
In order to continue hosting shows for not-as-well-known bands that people might not pay to come see, Phillips said she’s determining the viability of turning the venue into a nonprofit through donations and grants.
“I think that would also help the community really and truly understand that we are here for them,” she said. “We’re not trying to make a quick buck. Musicians sometimes get screwed over by venue owners and promoters and we aren’t there for that. We’re there to support them.”