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Birdland Saved By GoFundMe Campaign to Tune of $400,000

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GoFundMe.com
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Birdland will fly.

It is off the endangered jazz club list which included Jazz Standard in Manhattan, and in Los Angeles, Blue Whale. Those clubs have closed. But after a GoFundMe campaign that shattered its $250,000 goal, with $100,000 more raised from a virtual benefit concert on Jan. 24 featuring Wynton Marsalis, John Pizzarelli, Ron Carter, and Chita Rivera, things are looking good for Birdland.

The concert was introduced by that old saxophonist Bill Clinton. “It was so exquisite and classy and elegant and smart and so Bill Clinton,” said Tom D’Angora, the theatre producer who organized the campaign. “He went into the history of Birdland and the history of Charlie Parker and why supporting venues like Birdland and live entertainment is so important.”

You can see the benefit until Feb. 3 at savebirdland.com.

The total raised now stands at about $400,000, and D’Angora said the club will need every penny. “When they open up at the limited capacity, no matter what, even at sold out, they are operating at a huge loss,” he said, “but I think what we did with the fundraiser and shattering the goal like this, I think it’s going to really help them get through all of that.”

D’Angora said club owner Gianni Valenti had made renovations in the club to make it Covid safe. “He spent $20,000 putting in a whole new air filtration system,” he said, “bought all the plastic partitions so every single table had plastic on either side of it, making it as safe as possible for the artists and for the customers, and he opened and nine days later it was shut down again.”

That was in December. Valenti says he’s on pretty solid ground now. “Now I feel with the $400,000 and a new deal that I’ve set up with my landlord I have enough to get us through October, where I feel, and I’ve been told, that we may have indoor music in October,” said Valenti.

While the club has been closed, Valenti’s thoughts have not only been of how he would survive, but the musicians who played Birdland. So over the summer he started recording performances and putting them online.

“We went in cooperation with Broadway World, which has a large platform of people and they put the tickets up at $20,” said Valenti, “and the artists and Broadway World shared the money so that we could get money into the artists’ pockets.” He says he’ll resume this program in March.