I don’t think I’ve ever been to Douglasville, GA, a western suburb of Atlanta. However, it looks like they had a good thing going, and now they have a good thing going away.
A nonprofit ministry took over an abandoned movie theater eight years ago and converted it into something called The 7 Venue. The Venue’s unofficial motto was “No one goes home hungry”, and driving force Tony Hart has lived up to that, offering free sandwiches and asking only prayers or a song request in exchange. As the Douglas County Sentinel‘s Rebecca Leftwich reports:
Hart [is] a staunch Christian who throws the doors open for punks, jocks, preppies and everything in between so they can be prayed over, ministered to and “loved on.” Performers are spiritual and secular, and all are equally welcomed and tended to by The 7 Venue’s 100 percent volunteer staff. Bands on shoestring tours become family, finding rest and refreshment — a nap on the sofa, fried pizza and pickles, even vehicle and gear repairs.
However, Hart and the Venue were unfortunate enough to get in the way of Leviathan, in the form of the Georgia Department of Transportation. The shopping center that houses the Venue (along with a drugstore and drive-through burger joint) is going to be demolished as part of a road-widening project, and has become a victim of eminent domain. Back to Leftwich:
“Our days are numbered,” said a visibly dejected Tony Hart, the visionary behind the 8-year-old outreach, as he set about preparing dozens of grilled cheese sandwiches during a follow-up concert Tuesday. “They’ve given us notice and a date in November that we have to be out.”
As is his custom, Hart offers the sandwiches free to any takers.
[…] Hart summarily rejected the government’s “fair market value” offer, which he has said is just enough to shut down The 7 Venue. Moving and storage expenses will fall on Hart, who has operated the outreach at a loss since it opened. He says he “doesn’t have a dime” to relocate.
So The 7 Venue is closing down later this month, and though I’ve never been there, as a musician I hate to hear that, because kind places to play are hard to find –and they’re the sorts of places that allow bands to find audiences, and allow scenes to grow and develop. And of course, I also hate to hear about someone who genuinely does good becoming the bug on the governmental windshield. It’s just a small, good place. But it’s easy to forget that small, good places matter as well.
A tip of the Mondo Mortarboard to Noah Holt of Kill Baby Kill, via Facebook.