Cool heads prevail as the Project Lodge speeds toward the cliff's edge. That's because it looks likely that the East Johnson Street art and performance space will make its $8,000 Kickstarter goal by Friday. As of this afternoon they're only $348 short. The money train picked up significant speed in the recent past. This time last week they were down $2,000.
"I'm very optimistic," says Kenny Monroe, musician, Lodge volunteer and director of the Kickstarter video. "In general, Kickstarter campaigns start strong and end strong, and I think this one will do the same. We'll be doing all we can do to push the campaign in the final days."
Project Lodge executive director Bessie Cherry says there are number of strings left to pull, including a Facebook-coordinated reach-out aimed at former Madisonsonians who have moved to other regions. And then there's last minute givers.
"Some people who I've worked with via Project Lodge in the past have mentioned to me that they are waiting until near the end to determine how much to give," Cherry says.
Last month's Majestic Theater benefit packed the place onstage and off with a sublime blend of artists, friends, musicians, stylists, scenesters and supporters. The approximately $2,500 take, before expenses, was in line with expectations, and the audience was richly rewarded with music from bands who have performed at Project Lodge in the past. The entire deal was broadcast live on WSUM. Cherry says a fundraiser a few days later at the High Noon Saloon raised far less but met a different goal of connecting to a new audience.
What happens if the Kickstarter goal isn't made?
"We'll have to wait on purchasing a few things like microphones, mic stands, cables, new monitor -- all things we need to improve the sound system, for sure," she says. "I've been researching soundproofing options, and that'll definitely be a luxury we can't afford." Other things that will have to wait include stage lighting, chairs, projector and screen.
I asked Cherry if there was such a thing as Project Lodge Lite. "I think that the way ProLo is operating right now could be considered Project Lodge Lite!" she says. "Last year at this time we were doing 3-4 shows per-week. Often we would do an early show and a late show on Friday and Saturday nights. Our programming is down about 50% overall, just trying to be good neighbors."
Noise complaints from East Johnson Street neighbors last summer actually served as their own kickstarter for change at the Lodge. Cherry's biggest goal with new funding is to find a new location, possibly in the early blocks of the East Washington Avenue corridor. But even in the absence of a move, Cherry says more dough will vastly improve the present space.
Meanwhile, community support for the unique little space is seen just about everywhere you look. Cherry says local musicians and artists stop by with donations of toilet paper, towels, the loan of a projector.
"We're using some of my boyfriend's sound equipment," says Cherry, "Monsters of Poetry donated 20 really nice chairs to us a few months ago. But I don't know how we could get much more bare bones. Unless we started doing candlelit shows."
Looking for a reason this week to support Project Lodge with your presence? Witness go-to-hell-raiser Jon Dee Graham at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 15. Graham is the only three-time inductee into the Austin Music Hall of Fame.