Courtesy of Will Byington
In an effort to engage the community and lessen the financial impact of COVID-19 on revenue, Evanston SPACE is currently hosting a pumpkin patch for Halloween.
The live music venue has turned the entrance of its outdoor Summer Stage into a patch decked out with a number of fall-related items — pumpkins, gourds, hay bales and corn stalks, all available for purchase. The patch also has cider, cider donuts and s’more kits, and SPACE is also hosting a campfire.
The patch is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Oct. 31. Tickets are not required to enter, and visitors are welcome to use the picnic tables and bench seating as long as there isn’t a ticketed event occurring.
Jake Samuels, talent buyer for Evanston SPACE, said in previous years SPACE has not done much for Halloween, but because the pandemic is preventing them from holding indoor concerts, they have been forced to get creative in thinking of ways to create revenue.
“We had pretty loose expectations around this, but we were glad people responded to the idea and came by and bought pumpkins,” Samuels said. While the patch has run out of pumpkins, it remains open for visitors.
Samuels said even though the patch isn’t music-related, it’s an opportunity for the venue to be a part of the community.
Independent live music venues have been hit hard by COVID-19, since they were among the first businesses to close and will likely be among the last to reopen. A survey by the National Independent Venue Association found that 90 percent of independent music venues are in danger of having to permanently close due to revenue loss.
SPACE is employing a number of tactics to try to stay afloat. In addition to the pumpkin patch, they have been doing “to-go” concerts on people’s lawns and hosting concerts using their outdoor Summer Stage.
SPACE is important for other businesses in the area, as well. John Barry, general manager of the neighboring Blind Faith Cafe, said SPACE’s shows provide the restaurant with business from the venue’s traffic. Barry said this effect has increased in recent times due to SPACE’s Summer Stage being directly behind the restaurant.
Barry said it’s too early to tell if the pumpkin patch will impact the restaurant’s business.
“But the music venue is certainly a nice addition during these COVID times,” Barry said.
SPACE is part of the Main-Dempster Mile, a business district in Evanston. Katherine Gotsick, executive director of the Main-Dempster Mile, praised SPACE for how it has dealt with the new circumstances.
“SPACE is a business that has been forced to innovate because their regular business model is completely impossible,” Gotsick said. “I have been so impressed with the things they have come up with, their creativity, their resilience, their commitment, their dedication to wanting to employ musicians and their own staff. They are working so hard during COVID. I hope everyone goes to the pumpkin patch.”
Email: [email protected]
— Local music venues, artists struggle to stay afloat
— Evanston SPACE adapts to COVID-19 with Summer Stage concerts