The board of One Longfellow Square hopes its fundraiser will help the music venue survive the coronavirus pandemic. The venue has been closed since March and doesn’t anticipate opening for shows for months. Courtesy / Christopher McClure

PORTLAND — Staff and the board members of One Longfellow Square are hoping an emergency fundraising campaign will keep the music venue afloat until money from ticket sales can come in again.

With shows over the last few month canceled or rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the 185-seat music venue, short of cash, launched an emergency GoFundMe campaign to raise $100,000 to remain in operation until mid-2021. As of Tuesday, June 23, close to 1,200 people had donated $98,150.

The funds raised should allow One Longfellow Square to stay in business into mid-2021.

“This fundraiser is a way to help One Longfellow Square be able to pay rent during this period of uncertainty. It’s likely to be well into 2021 before the national concert touring industry resumes again; live music is going to play a really important part in the healing process after this pandemic and we think we have a lot to offer on that front,” said Jeff Beam, programming director and venue manager.

The pandemic has been tough for all live music venues, Beam said, but especially tough for One Longfellow Square.

The venue, which has been closed since March, will “likely be the very last to reopen due to the nature of the virus and the concert industry’s reliance on dense crowds in small spaces,” Beam said.


“Everything I love about the place is the reason One Longfellow Square can’t be open right now,” said board member Ethan Hipple. “We are all about that up close and personal (experience) and that clearly doesn’t work during a pandemic.”

Early on in the pandemic, the nonprofit organization made a number of changes to cut costs, including reducing staff hours. But because of utilities, insurance, rent and staff salaries, which equal $7,000 a month, One Longfellow Square could expect to only stay afloat until Labor Day without an influx of cash.

“A Payroll Protection Program loan/grant has kept staff on board bringing you live streams and strategizing for the future, but fails to provide any long term security,” the organization wrote on its fundraiser page.

The pandemic, board member Kristel Hayes said, put the organization, which was coming off a strong fiscal year, in an unimaginable position.

“Without immediate and direct fundraising, OLS will not survive this pandemic,” she said.

Hayes called One Longfellow Square “the heart of everything I consider to be music in Portland.”

“I hope we’re still here when it’s over,” Beam said. “To lose (One Longfellow Square) would be to lose an important pillar of Portland’s creative and economic identity.”

The venue, which opened in 2007 and became a nonprofit in 2011, hosts 200 events a year, including rock, folk, jazz, blues, Celtic, bluegrass and world music concerts, as well as comedy shows and film nights. Over the years it has hosted such acts as Tom Rush, Anaïs Mitchell and Ray LaMontagne, as well as Slaid Cleaves, the Bad Plus and Portland Jazz Orchestra.

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