Over the last couple of years I’ve been telling my readers about an exciting new project designed to bring a much-needed all-ages music venue to the area.
The Charleston Music and Arts Collective formed as a non-profit to create The Bakery, a performance venue located in the former Purity Made Bread Factory building on Charleston’s West Side. Tens of thousands of dollars were donated, as were thousands of hours of volunteer work–doing demolition, construction and painting in addition to fundraising– and after many trials and tribulations, on New Year’s Eve, just over seven months ago, The Bakery opened with their first official show, approved by the City Fire Inspector and compliant with all building codes and regulations.
About a week or so later, management of the building changed hands, and CMAC was unable to work out a lease agreement with the new ownership team. The Bakery was evicted from the spot that they had put all that work into renovating.
Rather than simply give up, the board of directors looked into other options, and a couple of months ago a benefactor purchased the former FAD Furniture building in Dunbar, with the intent of turning part of it into a new all-ages venue, to be administered by The Charleston Music and Arts Collective. Last night they held an open house to introduce the project to the public.
People of a similar age to your PopCulteer may remember FAD for their giant warehouse store, and the distinctive FAD tower, a rock-solid steel tower designed to be visible from Interstate 64, that made it easy for customers to find their way to the store. That tower is still standing, more than thirty years after FAD closed up shop, and it inspired the name of the new venue, The Spire.
Work has already begun. The interior of the building is being gutted. New steps have replaced the decaying original entrance to the building. Excitement is growing, and with some luck and a lot of volunteer work, the building may be ready to open before the end of this year. The hope is that the tower can be painted.
My observation is that the exterior walls of the building are just screaming out to play host to some colorful murals. This is a great opportunity to create an artistic oasis in the middle of Dunbar for the whole county to enjoy.
The plan is to make The Spire more than just a music venue. There will also be space for theater performances, dances, yoga, art exhibitions, poetry and lieterary readings, movie screenings, music and dance classes, and arcade area and much more. The venue will be available for all-ages parties and more. Check out the proposed floorplan…
I have to be honest. This is a real treat for me to see. One of my lottery dreams, had I ever won a huge jackpot, would have been to buy this exact building to renovate and turn into an all-ages venue. It’s the perfect use for this space. It’s easy to find. There’s plenty of parking. It’s right off the bus route. The Police station is almost within the line of sight of the building. And it’s a huge cavern of a space with so much potential. It’s a great chance to bring something to the area for local kids to enjoy.
It’s going to take a lot of money and volunteer time. The CMAC has proven that they can organize the volunteer work needed to bring a venue to life. There are several ways you can donate to help out with The Spire. You can schedule regular monthly payments via Patreon. Donation buttons can be found at their Facebook page. You can even send a one-time paypal donation HERE.
There are also a variety of corporate or business sponsorship options, ranging from social media banners to naming rights for the building. The Charleston Music and Arts Collective is a 501(c)3 non-profit, and donations are tax deductable. Contact them through their Facebook page if you’re interested. Volunteers can also contact CMAC through the Facebook page to offer up their time to help the project along.
It’s cool to see the idea behind The Bakery escape extinction. I will keep you posted on new developments.
A Quick Look Around The Spire
I took a few photos last night. The space is not much to look at yet, this early in the renovation stage, but you can get an idea of the scope of the project.
At the moment, the newly-rebuilt steps and unpainted wall may not look like much, but with fresh paint, a little cleaning up and maybe some additional work, the space next to the entrance might make a great place for a small skate park (providing the liability insurance doesn’t make that impossible).
The first impression when you walk into the building is that it’s so huge. The last time I was in here it was filled with couches and console televisions.
The dance floor, in progress.
We wrap up this quick glimpse into The Spire with a view from what will be the stage.
Sandanista on Big Electric Cat
Check out what’s on The AIR, as Friday sees a brand-new episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. At 3 PM Sydney Fileen presents two hours of highlights of the epic album the The Clash, Sandanista. You can listen at the website, or on this embedded radio player…
This week Sydney Fileen presents two hours of The Only Band That Matters, The Clash. Thirty-nine years after the release of the sprawling three-LP epic, Sandanista, The Big Electric Cat reminds all of us just how innovative and musically diverse this album was, mixing elements of Jazz, Rap, Disco, Reggae, Pop, and Gospel with The Clash’s trademark Punk rock. The album is too long to play in its entirety, but we have the cream of a very memorable crop of songs by The Clash at their most adventurous.
Sydney’s Big Electric Cat is produced at Haversham Recording Institute in London, and can be heard every Friday at 3 PM, with replays Saturday afternoon, Tuesday at 7 AM, Wednesday at 8 PM and Thursday at Noon, exclusively on The AIR. Next Thrusday and Friday The AIR will present marathon presentations of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, in honor of the legendary London DJ’s birthday.
And that is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back every day and all weekend for all our regular features.