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To Our Altered Stage Family

 

As we settle in for at least another month at home, I wanted to take a minute to thank our instructors, our members, and our community of Altered Stage friends for your continued support. We created the club to unite people through their love of music. While the world is living in separation, we’ve become even closer in many ways.

You have been amazing throughout all of this. I’ve gotten several emails thanking me for helping to keep some connectivity to the world and to people who share a passion for music. I sincerely appreciate the kind words, but I honestly can’t take credit. The real thanks goes to the team. The speed at which they brought the essence of the club – bringing people together – online with quality programming deserves magnitudes of thanks. I know I’ll carry my gratitude toward Jason, Nick, Cristina, Bree, Jerry, Vinny, and Chris Medici forever.

Based upon feedback from all of you, our entire team has committed to keeping a rich offering of online programming going throughout the stay-at-home order and beyond. Frankly, they love doing it and want to provide our community with much-needed social connectivity and creative stimulation.

We were on a roll pre-epidemic. Membership grew steadily to the point where for the first time in the club’s six-year history, we were able to build up cash reserves. This was an important milestone for us as about 90 percent of membership revenues go directly to our team of instructors. The other ten percent covers rent and things like beer, snacks, equipment/equipment repairs, etc. We’ve reinvested 100 percent of profits back into the club and have never taken dividends or paid back anything toward our investment to start the club. Even 100 percent of the revenue we bring in at our Reggie’s gigs through cover charge goes to our instructors for their work managing rehearsals and making the gigs happen. It’s always been about creating an amazing unique experience and a community unlike any other.

As musicians with an often unpredictable income, Nick, Jason, Jerry, Bree, and Vinny have all appreciated the steady source of income Altered Stage provides them. Our instructors are working musicians, which means that pretty much all of their other income sources – gigs, weddings, special events, festivals, etc. – have completely evaporated. I’ve always loved that Altered Stage has been a steady source of income for them. But with the expected drop in membership as a result of social distancing, we’ve had to tap our limited cash reserves. These are nearly gone. And, unfortunately, neither Altered Stage nor our instructors were able to participate in the Federal Payroll Protection Program, so the one source of steady income for our instructors is in jeopardy.

As a result, we need your help in supporting Jason, Nick, Bree, Jerry, and Vinny during this time. You can do it in a couple of different ways.

First, if your personal situation allows for it, please maintain your current Altered Stage membership. This helps all of us keep Altered Stage going during this unprecedented time. Second, if you are no longer a member, please consider rejoining Altered Stage in some capacity – either as a social member or full-on lesson member. Also, if you have had an interest in taking a lesson, now would be a great time to do so. We offer six-pack lesson plans as well. As I mentioned, membership revenues go directly to instructors and programming.

We have also created another option to help our instructors. We have created a GoFundMe campaign, through which we are trying to raise the equivalent of one month’s payroll. 100 percent of the contributions will be distributed to our instructors. The real power you can add to the program is to share your experiences working with Nick, Jason, & crew with your friends, family, pets, etc., point them to the GoFundMe page, and ask them to donate. Knowing this community, I’m confident we’ll hit our goal. I understand that some of us are under financial pressure because of the impact from COVID-19. So, if you have the ability to support this campaign in any way, you will make a meaningful impact on the lives of our instructors and the future of Altered Stage.

At a time like this, words seem insufficient to express what being a part of this community means to me. I think of the people I’ve met, all of you who I’ve jammed with – both at Altered Stage and at Reggie’s. Like all of you, I can’t wait to get back to making music in the same room with other people. This is what keeps me motivated despite the challenges we’re currently facing. Thank you for making Altered Stage the special place that it is – both on West Lake Street and online through Slack, Zoom and in all of the social media places that we hang. Thank you for supporting us, our instructors and one another not only over the past six weeks, but for the past six years.

If you have any questions, thoughts, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at jeff.bergau@alteredstage.com or 1-312-217-0419.

 

With love and in music,

Jeff