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Famous Minneapolis music club gets creative with fundraising

First Avenue, the live music venue made famous by Prince, recently replaced the stage in its 7th St. Entry room and sold 380 7-inch pieces of the old floor in a day.

A mockup of a piece of stage floor sold by First Avenue. Courtesy of First Avenue

Music venues across the nation continue to stay, for the most part, closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the country’s most popular midsize venues, First Avenue, has gotten creative in its fundraising. The downtown Minneapolis-based venue, which boasts a 1,500-capacity Mainroom, recently tore out and replaced the stage in its iconic 7th St. Entry room and decided to sell framed pieces of it online.

It was a bold move — given the worn out stage that was taken out dated back to 1984, with countless premium acts having played the small room which holds just 250 people. Three-hundred-and-eighty 7-inch squares that are being matted and framed were sold online for the price of $199 each on First Avenue’s website beginning Friday. All the stage pieces were claimed by Saturday afternoon.

Purchasers had the choice of getting the squares framed with a white matte or an all-black look, which lists many of the more prominent acts that have played the room over the years. The 1984 stage was the second used in the space, as the 7th St. Entry initially had a stage erected in a different section of the room from 1980, when the spot opened, until the recently removed stage was added in 1984. At a price of $199 each, the 380 pieces of memorabilia fetched more than $75,600 of revenue for the club in just a day.

Robert Schwartzman of Rooney playing the 7th St. Entry in 2019. Photo by Paul Patane

First Avenue, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, operates the Mainroom, where large chunks of Prince’s “Purple Rain” film were filmed, and the smaller 7th St. Entry room that’s adjacent. Prominent artists and acts which include The Strokes, St. Vincent, Foals, Billie Eilish, Macklemore, Fugazi, K. Flay, FIDLAR, Rooney, The Donkeys, and more played that stage throughout the 36 years it was used. Minnesota-based Prince, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Soul Asylum, Atmosphere, Babes in Toyland, Curtiss A, Step Rockets, Graveyard Club, and others have also cut their teeth in the space.

In addition to the framed squares, First Avenue is also selling old stage lights on its website, and a host of 50th anniversary swag to help keep the venue and its other properties (Fine Line in Minneapolis, and the Turf Club and the Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul) it owns afloat. Earlier this year, Vans released a custom shoe commemorating the club to help raise proceeds to help keep the venue afloat during the shutdown.



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