In 2009, musician and composer Wayne Horvitz approached longtime Seattle bar, restaurant, and venue owners Tia Matthies and Steve Freeborn about partnering on a new project in Seattle. In 2011 they
opened The Royal Room in historic Columbia City.
The three partners shared the belief that small-to-medium-sized performance venues are crucial incubators for developing musical artists. Minton's Playhouse and the Five-Spot served this function for key jazz innovators such as Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. Seattle's own OK Hotel nurtured the growth of bands such as Nirvana and Soundgarden.
This was the historical model and vision for the Royal Room: a venue that nurtures local musicians and and provides the space and opportunity for a wide range of musicians and audiences to share and interact. For six years, the Royal Room has developed and created programs that bring together different genres, generations, cultures, and communities. It has supported numerous educational, community and nonprofit groups. The Royal Room has built an accessible, comfortable and professional home for this intentionally intersectional approach to building culture and community.
Ticket revenues, however, don’t cover the cost of live music performance -- mainly when equitable access is an organizational value. The tension between the costs of presenting less commercial fare and the ability of program fees to cover those costs is significant. Non-profit theater and dance companies, museums, and public radio stations all depend on a mix of public support, foundation grants, and earned income.
The South Hudson Music Project is a not-for-profit funding model designed to sustain the music presentation, education, and community benefit activities of The Royal Room. The Royal Room continues as a for-profit bar and restaurant. The South Hudson Music Project is fiscally sponsored by Shunpike, the 501(c)3 non-profit agency that provides independent arts groups in Washington State with services, resources, and opportunities they need to forge their paths to sustainable success.
The South Hudson Music Project seeks public funding to support music programming at the Royal Room and other venues in the region by following its mission, vision, and values.