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BREAKING NEWS: The Loft to Close, Relocate on March 1 – UPDATED

[Updated February 20 at the end of the post.]

A representative of The Loft on Cherry, the downtown arts and events space, has confirmed that the Loft has signed an agreement with Fish Brewing Company to close its current space by March 1. At that time, it will reopen in the ballroom* inside the Olympian Hotel.

“Along with adversity always comes opportunity,” said Abigail Blue, booking manager for the Loft. “This whole ordeal with Fish has really brought the music and art community together. … We’re very dedicated to keeping that community together.”

Blue says that they will have use of the upstairs ballroom, the lobby, and the bar at the Urban Onion. The Urban Onion restaurant will continue to operate. The space will be open for events by March 1, though it will not yet be fully refurbished. A grand reopening event will be held sometime in the spring.

At the same time, the Loft is talking with the Eagles Club, and is nearing an agreement on the use of the performance spaces in their building on 4th Avenue and Plum Street to hold additional events.

The Loft may manage both venues as complementary sites. Blue said the Eagles Club might host louder events, such as punk shows and drumming, while the Urban Onion hosts quieter ones. The Olympian Hotel has residences on the upper floors and next door.

The agreement was reached yesterday. Staff of the Loft and the many organizations that use the Loft for musical and theater shows and other events have begun work on relocating and rescheduling events. “We’re working really hard to make it seamless” for those groups, said Blue.

The organizers of the Olympia Awesome Film Festival, scheduled for March 5 at the Loft, are among those figuring out what’s next. Ken Carlson of Mutual Assured Productions said they may move to the Eagles Club and will probably postpone the festival until April.

Blue, booking manager at the Loft, said that Fish Brewing Company is “giving us a small moving stipend.” Representatives from the brewery were not immediately available for comment.

The Loft is planning to go out with a bang. “We’re going to have a huge knock-down, drag-out blowout” called Loftapalooza on February 26 that Blue predicts will “go to 3 AM.” The door proceeds will help the Loft and other community groups move.**

Blue said the Loft is dedicated to providing — or enhancing — spaces for community events. “We will not let art and music die in Olympia.”

OP&L will continue to follow this story.

* This post was edited on February 20 to clarify that it is the ballroom at the Olympian Hotel, not the Urban Onion Ballroom.

**As of February 21, Loftapalooza has been canceled.

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UPDATE February 20:

In an interview with OP&L, the owner of The Loft on Cherry Tim Smith said there is a lot of work to do on the new site. “First, we’re going to try to do something about the acoustics in there (in the ballroom)… It’s a great old ballroom, but the sound is a challenge.”

Smith said other improvements to the ballroom will include upgraded lights, a new stage, and improved ventilation. Also, he plans to add couches to the mezzanine and otherwise make it a more usable space.

This work will not be completed by March 1. Smith said that, like the current space, it will be a matter of getting to improvements as soon as he can afford to.

Many organizations that hold events at the Loft are uncertain about their future. Smith said “all of the booked events [such as one-time shows] are going to be able to go into the new space.” However, “it’s more the weekly folks that we’re trying to relocate.”

“Of course, the big concern is Samba [Olywa],” the drumming group that performs at the Procession of the Species. Smith said they would be able to move to the new site until the Procession, but he is hoping to move them to a different site longterm. Other drumming groups will not be able to move to the new site because of noise concerns.

Also, a group of Irish dancers will need to find a new site because of concerns about marking the floor.

Smith would have like to stay in the old site longer to allow for an easier transition, but he said that Fish Brewing wanted a faster schedule. The brewery is providing some money to help pay for the relocation costs.

Said Smith, “I look forward to continuing to have the honor and privilege or working with artists and musicians.”

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