Flywheel smashes fundraising goal to make rent

  • A mix of kids and adults dance to music by DJ Youthelectronix, also known as Jeremy Smith, at a Saturday Morning Music Party put on by Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective in 2015. STAFF FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 2/11/2019 12:21:10 AM

EASTHAMPTON – Supporters of the Flywheel Arts Collective poured donations into a fundraising campaign to keep the arts and music venue afloat. Within 24 hours, the fundraiser’s goal of $6,000 had reached over $9,000 in donations and counting. 

“Surpassing the $6,000 goal is humbling, inspiring and incredible,” Jeremy Smith, a Flywheel board member, said of the collective’s first crowdfunding campaign. 

Flywheel started the GoFundMe campaign to pay off a debt owed to their landlords, City Space, which set a deadline in upcoming weeks to clear the debt. This put Flywheel at risk of losing its venue; the goal of raising the money by Feb. 24 was quickly reached. 

“We amassed a debt and City Space has been very forgiving and willing to work with us,” Smith said. The donations will “erase our debt and it’s a weight off our shoulders.” 

When Flywheel moved into its current location in the Old Town Hall at 43 Main Street eight years ago, it spent $20,000 to renovate the space.

Flywheel paid a reduced rate for several years, but in the past few years its rent went up to market rate. Smith said with a lull in shows and an “ebb and flow” of volunteers, there has been a drop off in revenue as well. 

“We’ve done a few benefit shows, but this was the last phase of us trying to erase this debt now,” Smith said. 

Looking through the list of donors, Smith said he recognized a lot of names of past performers and people who regularly attend shows at the Flywheel. 

“It shows how much impact the Flywheel’s had in 20 years,” Smith said. 

Two subtenants that use the Flywheel space – the Easthampton Family Center and REACH, an early intervention program for young children – were also at risk of losing their space were it not for the success of the fundraiser. 

Flywheel is a non-profit that raises money through donations, monthly and annual memberships, private rentals and by keeping 35 percent of ticket sales. The organization is run entirely by volunteers. 

In April, the Flywheel will celebrate its 20th anniversary with two weekends of shows, including Bush Tetras, Ted Leo, Upper Wilds and the annual Pioneer Valley Zine Fest. 

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com




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