Owners of The Royal have cancelled a fundraising effort aimed at helping them secure a longterm lease on Baker Street music venue.
In an email to supporters of the club, Paul Hinrichs confirmed that he and his business partner Howie Ross have decided to cease operations of the club as of May 1.
“Unless there is a massive miracle relatively soon, there’s no way we’re going to raise the necessary funds to continue,” Hinrichs wrote.
Last month The Royal launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise the $75,000 necessary to secure a 30 year lease on the building.
Only about $2,500 has been donated to date. Hinrichs says that money will be refunded to donors after the campaign closes on February 4.
A fundraising concert scheduled for Thursday will still go ahead, but the money raised will be donated to Nelson CARES, and Hinrichs is offering bands who planned to play that night and businesses who donated items for the silent auction the opportunity to withdraw their contribution.
“We won’t be taking any donations for The Royal,” Hinrichs explained.
He said the future of the space will be decided by the building owner.
“Personally, I’m done at The Royal after this,” Hinrichs wrote. “It has been an incredible experience, and I’ve genuinely loved meeting and working with all of you, but it’s time to move on.”
Several local residents were critical of The Royal’s fundraising effort.
Actor/musician Kevin Armstrong posted a scathing public letter about the bar on his Facebook wall and encouraged others to re-post it.
“Most importantly, and what people need to remember: The Royal is a FOR-PROFIT BAR! They are not offering anything to the community except for a place to rock out and get hammered,”Armstrong lamented.
He encouraged people to instead donate to non-profit arts organizations and venues like Capitol Theatre and the Civic Theatre.
Ross posted a response to Armstrong’s online criticism to explain why he and Hinrichs had turned to the community for donations.
“The Royal is a venue that supports musicians, both local as well as major acts, mostly as a community service, despite what you and some others are purporting,” Ross wrote. “The bottom line is this: I did not want to close The Royal unilaterally, without giving the community a chance to somehow save it.”
In the last year, The Royal has hosted acts like Dan Mangan, Bill Frisell, John Mayall, Leon Russell and Maria Muldaur. The website bcliving.ca named it the people’s choice pick for Best Live Music Venue in Interior BC.
Henrich and Ross took over the club in October, 2011.