It Ain’t Normal

What It Is

  • A volunteer-run, nonprofit, intimate listening room in an industrial-rustic former factory turned creative economy incubator in Bellows Falls, Vermont. It’s not a plush theater or a state-of-the-art facility.
  • We record and film performers and presenters in an intimate live setting for multiple media platforms including web, radio, and TV.
  • It’s this one thing. It doesn’t piggyback on a coffeehouse, bar, club, or restaurant. It isn’t about getting people through the door to sell them drinks and food. It’s all about honoring the stage.
  • Amateurs and professionals are equally welcome. We’re mainly here for local and regional performers and presenters but the door is open to everyone.
  • Only original material is allowed, and it must be FCC-safe (rated PG).

Why It Is

  • To help underserved talented and smart local and regional community members from all angles and of all ages find and grow their audience on multiple platforms.
  • To entertain and educate both the live and downstream audiences, and inspire them in pursuing their creative and intellectual passions.
  • In addition to boosting local pride by shining a light on our performing and academic communities, show a wide audience that Bellows Falls and the mid-Connecticut River Valley is an embracing and engaging destination for art and intellect.

vintage radio program

Our listening events turn the band-in-a-bar ethos upside-down: It’s all about honoring the stage — not sticking it in the corner and talking over it, or using it as an add-on to get people through the door to sell them drinks and food. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that; it’s just not what we do.

The listening events are intimate and informal. We have 40 folding chairs, plus standing room. We can’t serve alcohol without hiring a caterer (which we can’t afford to do), we don’t qualify for the libraries-and-galleries wine-and-beer legal loophole, and BYOB isn’t allowed — so people who absolutely have to get their drink on will be disappointed. Others may appreciate it.

We most closely resemble a sort of souped-up house concert, but in a makeshift space in an old factory turned creative economy incubator that also has the studios of a couple glassblowers, a couple painters, a photographer, a soapmaker, and other fine arts and crafts people.

(MCS / chronic migraine / hyperosmia / fragrance allergy note: For most of us, the scents that sometimes come from the small-batch, cold-process artisan soapmaker’s production space are pleasant. However, we did receive a comment from an MCS sufferer that they experienced mild effects. The soap people aren’t doing anything out of line or un-kosher; there’s no onus on them and certainly no aspersion cast. We’re fans of their work, and they’re great people. But for those living with exceptional sensitivity to scent, this is important to mention.)

We’re not a plush theater or a state-of-the-art facility. We’re not a club or a restaurant. Just good folks doing this one fine thing — the homegrown love child of Tiny Desk Concerts, Ted Talks, Science Friday, Midnight Special, and The Little Rascals.

33 Bridge St

Stage 33 Live is driven by the best parts of post-industrial small-town rural New England come-together and can-do Yankee bootstrap ingenuity and hard work. We’re an independent, unaffiliated, unfunded, local nonprofit that relies on donations, underwriting, and sponsorships to exist and improve. Everyone involved is a volunteer; we hope that will change, but for now our economy is part barter and mostly volunteer. When we have ticketed events with bigger names and touring acts, 100% of the ticket price goes to the performers. In addition to the media production and distribution that we provide, participants are encouraged to use the documentation however they see fit to promote the thing that they do.

vintage recording equipment

Equipment upgrades and infrastructure improvements are ongoing, with an eagle eye on cost-benefit. We don’t need or want bells and whistles, but the lowest level of technology required to do a task well still isn’t necessarily dirt cheap.

We don’t want to be one of those organizations that relies forever and entirely on largesse and philanthropy and grants to exist, but for the time being that’s how it is. When the finished documentation becomes widely available (locally produced programming that celebrates homegrown talent and culture is desirable stuff to regional broadcasters), sponsors and underwriters will recognize Stage 33 Live as both a good outreach vehicle and halo source.

We suck at the ask, but we believe that what we’re doing is important and worthy. If you think what we’re doing is important and worthy too, we’ll be so grateful for your support.

Freewill donations can be made online via PayPal (you don’t need a PayPal account).

Or cash or checks payable to “Stage 33 Live” can be dropped off at any Stage 33 Live event, or checks mailed to our administrative address: Stage 33 Live; 8-A Atkinson St; Bellows Falls VT 05101.

Stage 33 Live Ltd’s nonprofit EIN is 82-2349941.

Bellows Falls on the map

While Bellows Falls is rich in culture and nature (we love this place), it has the lowest per capita and median household income of any incorporated village in southern Vermont, and a poverty rate topping 25% — yet the community has rallied to support this project by supporting the physical and technical infrastructure, providing experience-based advice, volunteering time and muscle, and more.

In addition to boosting local pride by shining a light on our performing and academic communities, Stage 33 Live contributes to the local and regional economy by showing a wide audience that the southern Vermont and New Hampshire borderlands is an embracing and engaging destination for art and intellect.

We hope to eventually be able to provide at least one paid position in our community, and stipends for performers and presenters.

33 Bridge Street in Bellows Falls, Vermont, is the ADA compliant venue for Stage 33 Live. Seating capacity is limited to an intimate 40, first come first served. Standing room is available after the seats are filled; it’s also OK to bring your own chair as long as you take it back home with you afterward. 33 Bridge Street is a creative economy incubator owned and operated by The Island Corporation; Stage 33 is not a venue for hire through Stage 33 Live.