Scroll down for more information about how to donate, and instructions for using the donation button linked to Our PayPal account:
What we have already created...
(Information and links for donations below)
Merrimans' Playhouse is founded and operated by Stephen and Mary Merriman. It is important to distinguish that we are not a club. We have created a concert series called "Merrimans' Playhouse Jazz Performance Series", where we are providing a Concert Venue/Listening Room which focuses on the art of jazz, while bringing national and international professional jazz artists to the Michiana Community. It IS a place to experience Sonic Art. We have established a place where the art is safe from the pressures and expectations of being entertainment. Music and improvisation are the core of how we do things - express our ideas, manage our business, relate to people, make things happen. We want to establish a place where the art is safe from the pressures and expectations of being entertainment. This is what we've created at Merrimans' Playhouse.
We started the concert series in December of 2006, and created the new location at 1211 Mishawaka Ave. in May of 2011. In the beginning, we featured a guest artist with us performing on bass and drums, now we bring in entire ensembles. We have grown from hosting a handful of concerts in a season to four or more per month now. We have enough inquiries to host more than that. Check out our schedule page for past events. You can see how each year our list has grown. We are definitely moving forward in establishing a great Listening Venue, but have reached a plateau because of our limited finances.
Our Listening Room fulfills a needed niche in our community, as well as the worldwide music community. These performers coming through are all highly educated and hard working professional musicians who are putting forth their art honestly and passionately, and they seek venues for sharing their art with people. South Bend just happens to be in between major cities these musicians are touring through. What we have created is the right fit for their art; it is a very intimate and rich experience to be at a performance in our venue, for the audience as well as the musicians. It's like a mini concert hall, except there is this intimacy and connection you cannot get in a large concert hall, while there are no distractions like in a bar. The artists are reachable, people have the opportunity to talk and connect with them, and the musicians have the opportunity to connect with the audience. The audience loves the musicians, the musicians love the audience, and they love performing at Merrimans' Playhouse. Each concert has been a special and magical experience. At the end of each concert, the artists have spontaneously commented to the audience how special this venue is to perform in, how lucky they are to have this in their community, and they wished there were more venues like this across the country. The word about Merrimans' Playhouse is spreading across the country, and we have many new inquiries weekly about performing at our venue. We've had musicians tell us they heard other musicians talking about Merrimans' Playhouse at a NYC session, and another musician who tours the world said our space is one of the most beautiful spaces they've performed in! We are helping put South Bend on the map for touring musicians and our growing creative community. And here it is, right in our back yard, you don't have to drive to the city to experience high quality art.
People may not realize that it is only the two of us funding and operating the entire venue with all the tasks that go along with that: the bookkeeping, marketing (website, emails, flyers, programs), recording video and photographs, paying the bills, planning and coordinating the schedule, booking the artists, preparing the space, labor, tickets, sound, cleaning, cooking, preparing our home for lodging, and finally hosting the event and the guests. We rely on ticket sales to pay the artists; this is our only revenue stream. We do not have any other outside funding. We do not sell food, drinks, or products. At this time Merrimans' Playhouse is not self-sustaining. Our Piano Service business (Merrimans' Complete Piano Service) is our main business, so Merrimans' Playhouse keeps going because the expenses come straight out of our pockets. We are limited in our concert series, because it costs us money and time for each concert we put together, and we do not make enough in ticket sales to balance this out. The artists get the majority of the sales, and if we have a light turn-out we help compensate for the ticket sales. We have not raised the ticket prices because we want to encourage people to come to as many concerts as they can or wish, and keep it affordable. Part of the magic is the audience energy mixing with the artists' energy, so we want to have a full house every time if we can. If you haven't been to a concert yet, please consider coming to one to experience what we are talking about, we have most of the year scheduled already.
Check out our schedule page for past events. You can see how each year our list has grown. We are definitely moving forward in establishing a great Listening Venue, but have reached a plateau because of our limited finances.
Watch the short WNIT documentary about Merrimuse Enterprises, LLC, by Andrew Brent.
What we need...
Donations and sponsorships can help us with these costs, and allow us to continue with these concerts, and you would be contributing toward the effort of creating this vital space. And if we had enough sponsorship we may be able to bring in more artists. If we had sponsorships or donations to help cover even basic requirements, such as printing costs, or food for the artists, that would help a great deal. Other ideas may include a print shop or printing company who would be willing to sponsor in trade for adverstisement. We also need to have a hotel sponsor for some of the guest artists who require lodging as part of their "pay", we want to have that option to offer them. If you have any ideas of local businesses who would either sponsor their services, such as printing, lodging, or food, or would be interested in financial sponsorship, please contact us.
The more sponsorship we have the more printed material we can distribute to cover a wider Michiana area. Currently we are limited to how far we can advertise with printed material because of the costs. We would like to distribute our printed materials to the surrounding areas including Plymouth, Goshen Elkhart, Niles, New Buffalo, Three Oaks, Dowagiac, etc. We create a monthly program, and individual flyers for each concert. We typically host four concerts per month at this time.
VENUE EVOLUTION and DONATION CAMPAIGN UPDATES: The evolution plans are divided into three phases with an estimated budget for each phase reaching a total project budget of $9000. All estimated costs include supplies and labor.
Phase One: Budget $3000: Expansion of venue room by opening back area. We will be able to double our capacity. This includes cleaning, painting, carpeting, and installation of new back wall with double doors for rear exit, and tearing down the stage. This project is still slowly in the works. Most of the work completed so far is "behind the scenes" so you cannot see the progress, but there is progress. Much planning, prepping, painting, building, and securing supplies. For the backstage area, including the back door installation, estimated budget is $3000. We have raised $1120 in donations so far, and we thank you so much for the sponsorship. To date, we have spent $1256 on this part of the project, which includes supplies and labor costs.
Phase Two: Budget $3000: Build a second bathroom, and improve the current one. This will take place in the front AREA of the piano shop.
Phase Three: Budget $3000: Build a new stage, or create stadium seating arrangement. We have several ideas for this. We already have stage curtains, but will need to install and hang them. May need more carpeting.
Our Tangible Expenses include:
Rent for space.
Utilities for space.
Printing for Flyers and Programs.
Food for guest artists.
Food and supplies for Merrimans' Playhouse guests, lobby area.
Misc. fees for operating business (web hosting, bank fees, paper products, ink, etc).
Supplies and equipment for venue (mic cables, adaptors, mics, lighting, etc.)