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Iconic Seattle venue Re-Bar closes during coronavirus economic fallout

Credit: Re-bar Seattle (https://www.facebook.com/rebarseattle/)

For the past 30 years, Re-bar provided the Seattle area and beyond with communal music and art. Now, the iconic venue is closing its doors for 18 months, due to mounting financial burdens. Just as Washington’s government released their reopening plan, some are coming to grips with the timeline of lost income and determining how to weather the storm. Re-bar is permanently closing their Howell Street location, favoring an 18 month hiatus and new location. When Re-bar returns to South Seattle, it will serve as a bar and nightclub with full food menus. Read Re-bar’s emotionally impactful full statement on Facebook below.

Re-bar’s influence and impact

The Re-bar space widely recognized among nightlife has hosted everything from dance music nights to drag shows, without creative limit. While Re-bar highlighted some of the great creativity to blossom locally from the Pacific Northwest, they also pushed for civic engagement initiatives. Re-bar provided trainings for CPR/First Aid, mass shooting preparedness, and Narcan drug overdose emergency treatment free of charge. True to the roots of many music genres, including electronic, Re-bar created a space for marginalized communities to engage with their sounds and art outside of gentrification and commodification.

Despite this huge loss for the community’s music and art scenes, Re-bar is still committed to their mission. They’ve decided to continue online weekly live streams, and launch additional one-time programs in the future. The 18-month target reopening date feels distant, but with uncertainty touching every point of life, the positive outcomes match the negative.

Keep fighting for our local PNW venues

Like many locally-cherished venues around the country, the pandemic has swept away virtually all income despite continued fixed expenses. As congressional initiatives and relief funds crop up around every foothold in the music industry, still, small venues are some of the hardest hit.

Local hotspots are calling on the mass public for our help in securing their futures. During this economic turmoil, individual donations may provide enough financial relief. But, if the public forces pressure on larger-scale institutions, there’s a much better chance at guaranteeing live music will have a place to return to. In Portland, 45 East has partnered with the National Independent Venue Association and encourages fans to email their representatives. A Washington initiative operates similarly, instead at the statewide support level.

Although Re-bar’s suspension is disheartening, there’s still hope for their return in late 2021. While we take this time to consider the future we want to build, consider supporting the local venues that create limitless positive memories.

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