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Worcester Palladium Fundraising More Than $20K Short of Goal

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


With less than a week to go in their online fundraising campaign, the Worcester Palladium is more than $20,000 away from their goal of raising $25,000 for renovations to the building.

The Palladium, a music venue known for their connections with rock and heavy metal music genres, has been attempting to raise money since the beginning of the year in an effort to update their building both inside and out.

Repairs to the building’s classic art deco style architecture, as well as updates to the sound system and other music technology are key areas of focus. There are also three floors of vacant office space above the venue that have been in need of repair and repurposing for decades. 

But having made only $3,000 in two months of fundraising, the Worcester Palladium Restoration Project’s indiegogo.com campaign has been less than impressive. While the website does allow for any funds raised to be kept regardless of whether or not the project reaches its goal, it’s hard to imagine what the Palladium can do with less than a fifth of what they were hoping to raise.

“While we do hope to see a spike in donations in the coming months, this is not a project that we are willing to give up on,” said Jillian Miller, marketing director for the Palladium. “We recognize the importance of this venue as a historic part of downtown Worcester and a vital part of the local music scene.” 

Next Steps

While the donations may seem dismal, the staff at the Palladium remains optimistic. Although the indiegogo.com campaign was one of their more advertised means of fundraising, Miller acknowledges that it is not their only means of raising money for the renovations, which include both cosmetic and functional repairs.

“The indiegogo campaign is only a small part of the fundraising efforts,” said Miller. “The bulk of our donations happen in-house. We have set up a donation box at the venue where people can donate as they leave the venue. We also have our first-ever Palladium t-shirts available for purchase at our box office and during shows.” 

The Palladium has also turned to advertising as a means of raising renovation funds by giving businesses opportunities to sponsor the VIP room, stages or events in exchange for exclusive naming rights.
All means of revenue are currently being put to good use by the Palladium, as they have already began to make some renovations, something that began before the renovation project was even announced. And although the first round of online fundraising may not have been a success, the Palladium plans to continue using online crowd funding in the future.

“We have plans for a second round of crowd funding later in the year and people will still be able to make donations online throughout the year via Paypal or at the venue,” said Miller. “We still have a lot more in store for the coming year so everyone keep an eye out for what we have planned next!”

Online Campaigning

On January 30, 2014, the Worcester Palladium officially announced their restoration project through indiegogo.com, a website that allows for people to raise money for their projects by crowd funding. In exchange for giving money, donors are typically offered tiered prizes and perks, which are usually exclusive to the site.

The Palladium set up a two month window in hopes that they could raise a total of $25,000 through the site, with a year-end goal of $1 million. The Palladium offered seven tiers of prizes ranging from a $20 “Jump the Line Pass” to a $25,000 “Lifetime Pass” to the venue. T-shirts, private tours, and signing the stage were other prizes offered to donors.

The decision to use indiegogo.com for fundraising came down to the realization of the internet being a great tool to capture a wide audience. Although the fundraising goal was not met, the Palladium saw donation come from near and far, with one of the furthest donations coming from Germany. 

“We receive a lot of feedback from people who grew up at the Palladium and although they moved away, still have found memories of the venue and want to see it succeed,” said Miller. “An internet campaign was our attempt to reach beyond our four walls and give people across the world the opportunity to be a part of this renovation.”

Previous Renovation Projects

The proposed renovations are not the first time the Palladium has been renovated since the building opened for business in November of 1928, when it was known as the Plymouth Theater and used as a movie theater and vaudeville performance venue. 

According to archived information found at the Worcester Historical Museum’s library, five major renovation projects have occurred in the buildings history between 1967 and 1996. 

The first major renovation project was a remodeling project in response to Worcester’s urban renewal phase. The $250,000 project included new carpeting, pebble-finished walls, and new lighting fixtures, and was completed between 1967 and 1968.

The second renovation project, beginning in March of 1980, took six weeks to complete. The renovations - both cosmetic and functional - were a response to the remodeling project in the late 60s, which was deemed cheap looking, hindering the elegance of the art-deco style building. The $100,000 renovations included a new interior paint job, a 20-foot stage extension, and a new orchestra pit, lobby, and ticket booth.

One of the largest renovation projects occurred in January of 1987 and was cut off after the project’s total reached $750,000. The renovations were designed to be completed in two phases, the first being to the theater and the second to the three stories of office space above the theater. The renovations were delayed from January to August, forcing the building to be closed for eight months. Before stopping the renovations suddenly in 1988, replastering and repainting the theater, laying new carpeting, repairing some of the plumbing, and adding handicapped-accessible bathrooms were completed.

During the 1990s, two renovation projects were completed. The first, when the building was bought by John C. Fischer and John L. Sousa in 1990, totaled $500,000 and was used to convert the buildings theater space into a concert venue and nightclub. A second round of renovations was completed in 1996 after a second mortgage was taken out on the building. 

Now in the hands of MassConcerts, who purchased the building from Fischer and Sousa at the very end of 2013 after promoting and booking concerts out of the building since 1999, the current staff hopes that these most recent renovations will be the ones to finally return the building to its former glory so that it can help the overall economy and art community of Worcester.

“The Worcester Palladium is nothing if not a community,” said Miller. “To me, The Palladium is the symbol of Worcester's emerging arts community. Just as I believe our city is doing, the Palladium is emerging from the flames of the past decade, in which a lot of small, local businesses have taken a hit; but I believe, with the help of our patrons, our venue will shine brighter than ever in the coming years.”


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