Photo courtesy of Marquee Theater Independent venues are in trouble
Photo courtesy of Marquee Theater

Even after music venues reopen, it may be a while before bands return to the stage.

The Marquee Theatre located just one mile south of Arizona State University’s Tempe campus is one of them. It has been closed since March 12. Some events have been pushed back until later this year, some are postponed until 2021, and some have been completely canceled.

The venue, which opened its doors in March 2003, has hosted over 1,500 national tours. Artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Adele, Prince, Katy Perry, and Flogging Molly and many more have graced the Marquee Theatre stage. 

Independent venues are in trouble
Photo courtesy of Marquee Theater

“It has been the worst time of my 19 years at Marquee,” owner Tom LaPenna told The Copper Courier.

So what’s at stake if these small venues shutter? For one, independent venues are essentially small communities that offer an up-close-and-personal music experience. And that’s not something that big venues can do.

“Local venues are the heartbeat of any music community. From hosting local music showcases to world known artists, we promote them all,” LaPenna said. “I would hope we bring happiness and a sense of belonging to our community. A place you can go, enjoy your favorite artist in a safe and comfortable venue.”

Music-lovers and concert-goers who want to help can to the Marquee Theater website and purchase their “2-1” gift certificate where every dollar purchasers spend, they get $2 in ticket credit for shows at the Marquee through Dec 31, 2021.

Independent venues are in trouble
Photo courtesy of Marquee Theater

LaPenna also established an employee GoFundMe campaign that has raised over $15,000 from over 300 donors leading to the $50,000 goal.

In part, the fundraising page reads: “Even though events will return to town at some later date, all of our employees are feeling the pain… Marquee Theatre ownership do not have the resources to pay employees without shows.”

The money raised will go to help production staff, box office staff, security, bartenders, parking lot staff, clean-up staff and office staff. The Marquee is even offering the same $2 credit for $1 donation incentive to encourage people and companies to donate

For the time being, La LaPenna said his current plans for the Marquee is to hopefully stay afloat. He’s using his savings to pay bills and hopes to work with the City of Tempe to allow them to host shows “sooner than later.”

He said they had planned to host movies in the Marquee Theater parking lot but were not allowed by the City of Tempe. They were prepared to practice social distancing by having patrons stay in their cars but were still denied.

The National Independent Venue Association’s (NIVA) created an online petition for people who want to help save the Marquee Theater and other independent music venues like it. They can contact their senators and representatives and let them know they support small concert venues who need financial help from the federal government. 

There’s also a hashtag #SaveOurStages. As it says on the petition: “Yell it, scream it, clap your hands, and pound your feet like you’re calling the band back for an encore!”