Red lights inside the State Theatre are seen through the glass doors on Congress Street. Music clubs around the country bathed their exteriors in red on Sept. 1 to stand in solidarity. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The line “But if there were no music, then I would not get through,” from the Shawn Colvin song “I Don’t Know Why,” resonates with me so much I have a big tattoo of it on my left arm. These days, I’ve been adding a word before “music” in my mind: “live.”

Port City Music Hall’s permanent closure at the end of July is still a fresh wound, and it feels like we’re in triage mode for many others, especially since there hasn’t been any definitive news about a COVID-19 vaccine and the Save our Stages Act doesn’t yet seem to be going anywhere with Congress, though my fingers are still crossed.

This means that venue owners, promoters, musicians and us fans are all in the worst kind of holding pattern: one without a clear ending and one that feels all the more hopeless as days fold into weeks and months.

While a few places are able to hold 50-person indoor shows, not everyone feels comfortable attending them. Plus, when a venue can hold several hundred people, holding a 50-person show is difficult, at best, to turn a profit. Also, let’s look at the calendar. It’s mid-September, and the window for outdoor performances is starting to close.

And so, I’m here to shout it from the rooftops: Let’s continue to help save Maine’s music venues by reaching into our wallets and encouraging others to do the same. On a budget? No problem. Literally every dollar helps, and you can also help by spreading the word on social media and by chatting it up with friends.

Before I talk about what a few venues in particular have been up to in terms of fundraising, let me say this: Every venue needs help. So if I don’t mention ones that you care about, please visit their websites and social media pages. They might be selling some great merchandise or accepting donations during streaming performances. Maybe it’s time to finally become a member at places like The Strand Theatre in Rockland or to donate to the Community Arts Fund at Camden Opera House. Maybe you’ve got a few dollars to spare for Johnson Hall in Gardiner or St. Lawrence Arts in Portland. Or heck, maybe you’re in the mood for some tasty takeout. If so, hit up the sports bar at Aura in Portland as that revenue is helping to keep a few folks there employed. The point is, they all could use a helping hand.

And now for a few specific fundraising efforts.

The Maine Music Alliance was launched at the beginning of September with the hopes of raising $500,000 in a grassroots fundraising campaign. The alliance’s goal is to help keep several Portland venues sustainable. At present, the list of members includes State Theatre, Blue, Space Gallery, Sun Tiki Studios, One Longfellow Square, Geno’s Rock Club, The Apohadion, Flask Lounge, St. Lawrence Arts and Mayo Street Arts. You can donate at

Ken Bell, owner of Portland House of Music in Portland. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Meanwhile, Portland House of Music launched a Go Fund Me campaign on Aug. 29 with the hopes of raising $125,000. As of last week, they’d received just over $40,000 from 483 donors.

Over at Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield, a Go Fund Me campaign kicked off on Sept. 4 with a goal of $75,000. Its need is two-fold. Like with other venues, there are still bills to pay. But this one is seeking donations for another purpose too: feeding the food insecure. Stone Mountain has been providing home-cooked meals to area families for the past few months and most of that has been funded by donations. There are 100 people who have come to rely on these meals, and Stone Mountain has decided to make the program a permanent one.

Maurice Habimafura wearing a Mayo Street Arts T-shirt. Photo by Clarisse Habimafura

Mayo Street Arts in Portland told me it’s laying low to conserve resources and using this time to make plans and improvements, but is always thankful for donations and has a campaign in progress to make the venue wheelchair accessible. You can also display your love for Mayo Street Arts by buying a nifty T-shirt featuring original artwork by Pat Corrigan.

The Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath said it ran its most successful membership drive ever in April and May and has appreciated immensely that many ticket-holders have donated the cost of tickets from postponed shows. Donations can me made anytime at Additionally, be on the lookout later this fall for the CCAC Community Book which is a compilation of several types of local creative work including visual, written, audio and video that will be available both in print and digitally.

Like I said, every little bit helps. The thought of more venues closing is just too painful.

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