A Legendary Music Club Faces Permanent Closure. But Crowdfunding Is on Pace to Save It.

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One spot after another has been toppled by the pandemic. Birdland, the historic New York City venue, could be next. But the club’s fate isn’t sealed yet. It’s a living shrine to the music, memory, and resilience of Charlie Parker and the continuum of bebop innovators throughout history. The venue launched a GoFundMe campaign two days ago after nine months of dormancy and another lockdown order that’s pushed it toward extinction. Crowdfunding is coming in.

The club aims to raise $250,000 to stay afloat. At last check, it’s pulled in nearly half. It’s seeing some of the support reciprocated that it’s shown the world over 72 years as a birthplace of revolutions in harmony and rhythm. “On March 16 we were given the order to close,” the club’s owner, Gianni Valenti, told WBGO’s Nate Chinen. “I thought it would be a couple of weeks, and I kept everybody employed through March.” After laying off almost 60 workers but keeping a small part-time staff, the owner invested more heavily—before the latest lockdown order.

“I needed people to realize that we’re still alive, that we’re going to be there, that we’re part of the landscape…It’s heartwarming to see the outpouring for the club. I don’t care if someone gives a dollar or a thousand dollars. It’s that they made an effort to help.”

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