The Vintage Theater in Scranton has a new address.
Co-owners Conor O'Brien and Theresa O'Connor signed a lease on Thursday, August 16 to move their combination all-ages concert venue/art gallery/cafe/you-name-it to 326 Spruce St., Scranton.
The two are tentatively planning a soft opening at the new location for Friday, Sept. 7 followed by a grand reopening on Friday, Sept. 14
Prior to making the announcement, O'Connor said that their plan is to stay in downtown Scranton, within "the First Friday footprint."
"We want to be somewhere that's in walking distance of our former space so that our regular customers wouldn't have to go too far out of their way from what they were used to," she said.
The travel may be a short one, but it's not without challenges. Hoping to make the move a little more painless, O'Brien and O'Conner have taken to crowdsource-funding website Indiegogo.com. The deadline for donations was Saturday, Aug. 18.
"We have the funds to get started, at least," O'Conner said. "We're just hoping Indiegogo can help us with the renovations and our sound equipment and maybe building a little nest just so we're not crossing our fingers in October when the next month's rent comes."
When the Vintage closed its doors at 119 Penn Ave. in June, it came as a shock to many. Since September 2009, that address had been the Vintage's home. It now houses a print shop.
"The building owners were just looking to do something different, so we had to find somewhere else to go," O'Connor said. "We had 15 days to move. It was a bit of a surprise to us, but we've tried to keep the ball rolling."
This isn't the first time the Vintage has had to change location. Originally founded in January 2009 as a revival movie-house at 222 Wyoming Ave., the venue quickly outgrew that spot as it transformed into something of a one-stop destination for all things art related. Over the years, the Vintage has hosted plays, poetry readings, concerts, discussions and exhibits of all kinds.
"We call that ‘arts integration,' where you're bringing art into other contexts and also intermingling, exchanging and interchanging between the different arts," Ted Michalowski, a Marywood University and Keystone College art instructor said. "It's always good because artists need to support each other as well as befriend each other. From that comes collaboration and growth."
Michalowski, who participated in Rhythm of the Region II, one of the last art events the Vintage held before going on hiatus, believes the venue's open-armed eclecticism makes it a valuable contributor to the burgeoning NEPA art scene.
On the other hand, for people like Pamela McNichols, even more significant may be the Vintage's all-ages inclusivity.
In March, McNichols and her daughter Zoe held the first-ever Scranton StorySlam at the venue. Originally conceived as Zoe's high-school senior project, the mother-daughter duo decided to continue holding slams following the success of their Vintage debut.
"We need to create an atmosphere for our young people so they have something to do, so that they're not just going to parties all the time and so they can become involved with a music scene and with other different kinds of art and culture," she said. "The local art scene is awesome. Great theater. Fantastic music. That's where a place like the Vintage fits in, for example, providing a place for musicians to perform that isn't a bar."
Dan Rosler knows what that's like. The lead singer and guitarist for A Fire with Friends credits the Vintage with helping his band find its footing when the group was still in its formative days.
"When our previous practice space was not working out, Theresa and Conor offered to let us practice there," Rosler said. "They gave us a place to start, really. A lot of the first shows we ever played were there. We had both of our CD release shows there. I have a lot of great memories at that place."
At press time, the Vintage's Indiegogo page had surpassed its goal $3,500, earning $3,646 with 15 hours left to increase that amount, an estimated $1,000 additionally raised through fundraising events at the Houdini Museum and the bar Mert's in Scranton. The Steamtown Original Music Showcase, set to take place the first weekend of September, will also donate a portion of its proceeds.
"There have been people coming out asking if they can donate a portion of this or that," O'Brien said. "It's a lot of little things, but the support has been overwhelming and every dollar is helping."
Viewing their unexpected move as a blessing in disguise, O'Brien and O'Connor are using it as an opportunity to evolve. Not only are they actively seeking a larger space for their new home, the Vintage owners are also concocting ideas for new offerings, as well. Among such offerings are plans for new creative workshops and classes.
"Just as our history has proven, the Vintage has a mind of its own," O'Brien said. "It's such a community-minded venture that it really depends on what direction the community wants it to go in. As long as that support is there, we're willing to do anything and everything."
Regardless of what changes the Vintage's new location and continued evolution bring, however, O'Brien remains committed to the philosophy with which he founded the venue years ago.
"The biggest problem in the arts is the barrier that is often created. While I'm a firm believer that the arts are something to be honored, treasured and respected, all too often it becomes this ostentatious institution with an attitude that it's only for the elite. That's so wrong. Art is for everyone, regardless of age and regardless of experience level. Wherever there is a void, that is what we want to fill. It's something meant to be open and inviting, a true community."