New venue a ‘melting pot’

After fundraising, a group of artists plan to open a multi-use space.

What started as a need for a recording studio and practice space for Dante Scaglione’s Philly-based record label, Third Floor Tapes, soon turned into a vision for a multi-purpose arts space completely new to the city.

Scaglione, along with several of his friends involved in Philly’s music and art community, started a GoFundMe campaign last month to help pay for a new arts location, which will serve as a recording studio, practice space, art gallery, darkroom and screen printing space.

Between the GoFundMe campaign and money raised from benefit house shows happening around the city, the group has raised nearly half of its $3,000 goal to be used toward rent and utilities for the 2,000-square-foot space. The group hoped to open its doors by late May with a kick-off show.

“We all noticed this deficit in the Philly music scene,” said Emmy Liu, one of the venue’s organizers. “There are only a couple medium-sized venues … and there’s a lack of integration between art and the music scene … [and] a space where they can be integrated together.”

Liu, Scaglione and the others involved hope to bring together the music and art community into one, all-purpose space that is both easy to use and accessible to all.

“The fact that this is integrative is really important to us, we want to foster a space that’s inclusive to individual artists,” Scaglione said. “This is going to operate like a lot of house shows, the DIY community is a really strong one so a large part of this space is being community run.”

In addition to initial funding to get the venue up and running, the multi-purpose space will run on a donation and volunteer basis, with rent and utilities paid for by entrance fees at shows and revenue from rented studio space.

“We’re not profiting off of this at all,” Scaglione said. “This is definitely for the community and run by the community. The space pays for itself. The community pitches in time and energy to keep the space running.”

“There’s really not anything else like this right now, especially one that’s this accessible to everyone,” he added. “We all have a similar vision and we all want to make these resources available to people.”

Liu said inclusivity is a main priority. The venue will serve as a melting pot of artists and musicians for an arts community currently lacking in diversity.

“This is important for me especially because I’m female and non-white,” she said. “I’ve encountered a lot things that just aren’t really OK … especially coming from a community that preaches inclusivity, and I think there could be a lot more effort in diversifying the music scene and making people feel really welcome and safe.”

Liu said the lack of representation in the arts community makes many “feel like they don’t have room.”

“It’s really a shame, because it’s silencing a large demographic of people,” she added.

The space also provides hard to come by opportunities for artists and musicians in Philadelphia, as well as affordable services.

“It’s a trademark, almost, for some basement venues that they don’t exactly have good recording equipment,” said Henry Crane, a Philly musician and organizer of the new space. “If we get the money to get a good recording studio, it could be a big deal for a lot of bands who want to record but don’t have the space.”

In addition to equipping smaller bands with much needed practice space and affordable studio time, the space will also bring together the different social groups of artists in the city.

“A lot of people make art but they just don’t know each other,” Crane said.

“We’re a varied group of individuals, we all have roots in different circles and the fact that we’re bringing this together is something that’s not being done,” Scaglione said. “We’re offering a unique resource in the sense that we have a variety of resources, some of which are already rare to come by, they’re all going to be in one place.”

“The fact of having a recording studio, a practice space, a gallery, each of those individually are valuable to the community,” he added. “We’re bridging that gap, we’re bringing them together and it’s all going to be accessible.”

Emily Thomas can be reached at

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