I can’t count the number of times I’ve talked to excited performing artists who have a grand vision to buy an old building and turn it into the “coolest venue ever” that will solve all of the usual problems with performing in bars and coffee shops. The financial entry point is so high that these venues never open. If they did open, then it’s the overhead of a mostly empty building to deal with.
There’s something very exciting happening in Lancaster for the performing arts. Producers are using more and more found space for arts events, rather than taking on the burden of purchasing or leasing an exclusive space. And other organizations are offering their space during off hours making for a very collaborative scene.
In a recent conversation with a friend, we recalled all of the new places in Lancaster where we’ve seen live performances since 2008. A surprising majority of these “venues” are actually used for other primary purposes.
- The Candy Factory – a co-working space filled with freelancers, small business owners, and remote workers during regular business hours has hosted many great concerts and was the home for the Wood Stove House experimental theater production called Lancaster’s 24 Hour Plays.
- The Ware Center – Millersville University’s downtown arts building hosts public performing arts events each week, many of which are produced by independent groups like Series 42, Music for Everyone, Creative Works of Lancaster, and Theatre for Transformation.
- Tellus 360 – a local business that specializes in creating environmentally sustainable furniture and decor from reclaimed wood hosts a tabletop sessions monthly concert series.
- Fulton Elementary School – Mosaic put Fulton Elementary on the performing arts map hosting a Sunday evening monthly concert series in the school auditorium.
- The Community Room on Prince – a room that is rented by and shared by a number of organizations and churches. iheartlancity has been hosting a regular concert series in the space, and bands use it to promote their own shows.
- The Elks Club – organizations like Series 42 and The Row House host concerts in the ballroom.
- Outside – all over the city arts events are happening outside. Creative Works of Lancaster is producing plays in Musser Park, Wood Stove House produced Play Grounds: Theater on Site at Lemon St. Market, Schreiner-Concord Cemetery, and Fulton Elementary. Music For Everyone and MOOSE has spearheaded the new Music Friday where every 3rd Friday in the summer, music is hosted outside including the big stage at Lancaster Square, Market Alley Stage by Series 42, Wood Stove House Stage @ Lemon St. Market, the CI Records Stage at Penn Square, and more.
- House Concerts – we’ve been hosting Wood Stove House concerts since 2009 both at the Wood Stove House and in other homes. Live from the Cellar is a new series that started this year, and Keith Slesser recently started a series in his garage.
Who am I missing? Where else are groups producing performing arts events in non-traditional spaces in Lancaster?
Let us know in the comments.