As The Woodshed Turns
The owner of the venue, Paul Kulak, has engaged the support of Councilwoman Wendy Greuel and has appealed to the artists and audiences who frequent the place to give him financial, moral and political support.
However one artist is speaking up and telling Kulak that his problems are of his own making and that he is attempting to use his supporters to bail him out of his current situation.
The Sister City has obtained that email to Kulak by musician Heather Waters. Waters' comments are insightful and give yet another perspective on the Woodshed issue.
From: Heather Waters
Subject: Re: New Woodshed Information
To: Paul Kulak
Hi Paul -
I've read your letters over the years and have been keeping up with the current state of things. I've also been chatting with Charles Peyton as well. I know the two of you have a very contemptuous relationship, but I've found him to be very articulate and polite. It's a shame that this whole situation couldn't have been worked out to everyone's benefit.
After considering both sides of the issue, I think there are too many unanswered questions regarding building repairs, soundproofing, how money is spent (as a member, I should know where MY money is going), why a 501 c 3 application was never filed, etc. Long before I ever knew about Charles, I wondered how a business could continue to pay rent, make necessary repairs, and pay musicians without a viable revenue stream. I'm still wondering.
Years ago when I first learned about your situation and the calls for donations went out... I have to admit, I was turned off. It is YOUR business after all. As such, it behooves you to have a viable business plan and be on top of these sorts of things. It shouldn't be up to the community, especially one made up of musicians who struggle as it is, to bail you out. If you were a nonprofit I would have an entirely different opinion, but that's not the case.
I have two very dear friends who have been operating a successfully listening room/music store outside of Chicago for over a decade. There were some very, very lean years, but they made it work and they never once asked the community for help. They adhered to building and safety codes. They even managed to compromise and come to a meeting of the minds with their grumpy neighbor who called the police regularly to complain about noise levels. In addition to manging this business, they're also raising 5 children. They are not wealthy people; in fact, quite the contrary. They are, however, resourceful, proactive and prepared. I bring this up, because like Kulak's they are an income generating business. They have employees, a handful of volunteers and they pay EVERY musician who plays there. They get a cut of ticket sales, but the artists still get paid. EVERY artist. I'm not talking about $50 throw-away gigs either.
To me, there is a huge disparity between what I've seen at Front Porch and what I'm seeing with The Woodshed. I don't see the dots connecting. I love music. I love that other people love it enough to want to open places like Kulak's and Front Porch and similar listening rooms. I don't think, however, that a love of music supersedes the law, respect for your neighbors, or having your shit together.
Forgive my bluntness, but if I'm going to help out, whether its with money or time spent writing letters, I want all the cards on the table. I have the distinct impression that the wool is being pulled over my eyes AND I don't like it.
I have nothing to gain by not lending my support. As a musician, I want as many places to play as possible. But I don't see how sticking by you when you continue to fail to hold up YOUR end of the bargain makes any sense.