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A behind-the-scenes reintroductionposted Oct 23 2023

The bloggy Yawp Yarp section of the website has been hidden for a good while, and nobody seems to have missed it. That’s OK. The infrastructure is here for when social media finally gasps its last.

This is something we’re going to send to the media outlets where we send press releases. We’re posting it here just so it’s somewhere handy. And maybe to share on social media. 😉

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Hi editors and others,

There’s been personnel churn at several outlets since we started Stage 33 Live about six years ago, and because we’re such an abnormal thing — not actually a venue, not actually a business — we want to re-introduce ourselves in bullet points and short chunks. Even if you’re already familiar with us, there might be tidbits that you didn’t know.

So this isn’t actually meant for publication, it’s meant for you. In the spirit of helpfulness, so you know what you’re dealing with.

Thanks to each of you for the important work you do. It’s appreciated, even if it may not seem like it some days. We know that feeling too.

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• Stage 33 Live in Bellows Falls, Vermont, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit 40-seat listening room in a former factory, entirely run and done by volunteers from the community, from administration to sweeping up.

• Listening rooms turn the bar / restaurant / coffeeshop / brewpub dynamic on its head — the performers aren’t an add-on, they’re the whole point. It’s about immersing in the performance. Like the million-dollar performance centers, but without the million-dollar part. And way more intimate, without glitz and flash.

• We’re not a full-time business. We do this one thing about 18-ish times a year, give or take.

• The featured performers receive 100% of the ticket sales.

◦ We have operational expenses even though payroll isn’t one of them — random donations and occasional small institutional grants, for which we’re endlessly grateful, keep us afloat. (We would like to get paid someday if we can figure out how to make that happen.)

• Our nonprofit mission is multi-pronged. The main prongs are:

◦ To help emerging musicians and language creatives find ears and eyes by documenting their original work in paid performance and presentation in front of a live audience, and then disseminating that documentation;

• and also welcome artists who are more established — their participation gives the project more visibility and perceived value.

◦ To provide the community affordable yet high quality live entertainment.

◦ To contribute to Bellows Falls’ and southeastern Vermont’s reputation as a desirable destination.

We record and film all the performances and post the clips online. Getting the videos out in the world gives the performers extra visibility to a much wider audience, and raises awareness that Bellows Falls (and southeastern Vermont / southwestern New Hampshire) is a pretty cool place.

The documentation prong of the mission is the most successfully fulfilled prong by a wide margin. Our online view count is in excess of 81,500 (as of October 2023), averaging more than 2,500 a month and growing. To have 80,000 people churn through the room as live audience members, we’d have to do 2,000 sold-out shows. At the actual rate we do shows, that would take 100 years.

We also plan to produce programming for regional radio and TV from the archived material. That may seem like an audacious conceit, but everything we’ve ever done has been plucky.

New audience members tend to be surprised to find performers who are as good as, and sometimes better than, bigger fish in bigger rooms with bigger tickets. Not every time, but more than would reasonably be expected. Most people who play here are still in the ascendancy of their arc, but there are also touring performers who deliberately prefer to play small listening rooms over larger venues.

We book first-come first-served from a wait list because the biggest obstacle emerging performers face are the gatekeepers. We kept a Grammy nominee dangling for over a year while people with no name recognition — but who were in line first — got their turns.

We’re already booked full for more than a year, through the end of 2024, and already have more performers on the wait list than we’ll have dates available in 2025.

All booked shows are on our website, www.stage33live.com — as are all the past ones, and all the videos.

• The building we’re in, 33 Bridge Street, is part of the old Moore and Thompson mill complex and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

◦ The building is now a creative economy incubator, with tenants including fine artist Charlie Hunter, hot-glassworks Sherwin Art Glass and Kekic Glass, photographer Gail Hynes, artisan soapmakers Grace and Miss Mouse Soaps, and community radio station WOOL-FM.

• We’re renewably powered with electricity generated by the hydropower dam facility just steps away from the front door.

• Our intention is not to be in competition with other venues and events, but to complement them. Most of our shows are on Sundays for that reason.

Our website has an unwieldy amount of information if you want more, www.stage33live.com

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