Slithering down the Highland-area strip of Bardstown Road is never a dull experience: images of rainbow-colored, spiked hair, all-black clothing and bikers riding anything from Schwinns to Harleys bombard your occipital lobes in every direction. Many highly visible subcultures generate this concentration of eccentrics, but the most often overlooked subcultures are those of the young. You may have taken notice of the blue-and-white neon theater marquee that adorns the night sky just north of Grinstead Drive, marking the location of the Bardstown Road Youth Cultural Center, otherwise known as the BRYCC (pronounced "brick') House. The BRYCC House, 1055 Bardstown Road, designed and created for youth, serves as a facility for the young, in this case referring to those between the ages of 13-24.
Youth is vibrant and more grown-up than ever before. The BRYCC House, a non-profit organization formed in 1999, is a place that treats them as such by providing a space in which they not only can enjoy the tools, toys and activities inside, but also be involed in the decision-making and responsibilities needed to make it all work.
Looking for something to do? The BRYCC House hosts events throughout the week. Local bands, art exhibits, poetry readings, potluck dinners, dance parties, youth conferences and even free martial arts training can be found on a regular basis. In March, scheduled shows include My Morning Jacket and Craig Wagner (along with other special guests) on March 2; Kilowatthours with Midway and Pflanz plus three more bands putting on a BRYCC House benefit show on the 17th, and finally, on the 24th, Sen, Absence of Faith, Kavehill and Factor 9 will play. Local bands usually take the stage all weekend long. There is also a poetry reading featuring students from ten different high schools in the area on the 29th. In addition to the "fine" arts, every Saturday in March from 1-3 p.m., there is a free martial arts class. This month, the International Women's Awareness Celebration will be held at The BRYCC House on the March 4 from 1-5 p.m. For a full calendar of events for March 2001, go to www.brycchouse.org/events/march01.html.
One of their hottest projects is their Internet radio station at www.bryccradio.org. Some of the regular programming includes an aggressive noise and news program on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m., entitled "In Your Face." On Friday afternoons at 3 p.m., you can catch "Rat Bastard's Love Grooves and Slow Jams." The long-term mission of a licensed, youth-run broadcast radio station has a goal of the summer of 2001 station, so that the tunes can be heard here in town, not just on the Internet. In order to achieve this goal, the station must broadcast at least twelve hours a day and adhere to all FCC regulations. Financial support is also needed for this endeavor.
In order to DJ, one must volunteer at the BRYCC House and go through a "phasing in" period of training that lasts approximately 2 weeks. This is just another example of the delicate balance necessary when participating in a community project such as this: it is a give-and-take relationship, and as long as everyone carries their weight, there is much to gain and quality results will emerge.
Another up-and-coming project is the BRYCC House benefit CD to be released in mid-March. The recording will include music from a number of local bands including Blue Collar Revenge Theory, Bodyhammer, Red Sun, Chumbawamba, Skam Impaired, and many more. Pre-orders (until March 1) get at a $2 discount; the price after March 1 will be $10 plus shipping and handling. You can send cash, check, or money order (made out to "BRYCC House") to: BRYCC House Benefit CD, 1055 Bardstown Rd. Louisville, KY 40204
Additional services in the planning stages include free tutoring, crisis counseling services, peer counseling, an art/literary zine, art studio, eco-friendly café, music recording studio and the continuing improvement of the stage lighting/PA/acoustics of the performance space. Longer term goals besides securing the broadcast radio license, include an audio/video production center, as well as the founding of an alternative school. These folkss have vision, to say the least.
As far as the building itself is concerned, it is equipped with a 16' x 20' x 3' stage, meeting rooms available for no charge upon request, a library and more. The BRYCC House is also a designated Safe Place, making parents sleep a little easier.
Some history: The BRYCC House was founded with the help of Louisville Alderman Bill Allison and a host of others. The idea of a youth center was on a roller coaster of support (and lack thereof) by others for a period of three years before Allison's willingness to appropriate money from the city's budget to fund the development of a youth community center made it tangible. In March of last year, the center was placed in a temporary spot, and in July of 2000, they found their permanent Bardstown Road home .
A $150,000 seed grant was provided by the city of Louisville to get the project off the ground and keep it running until they could get on their feet. Fundraising, grant writing, private funding and public donations, as well as the vital help of devoted volunteers keep the BRYCC House going.
How to make it all work? Democratically, of course. There is an Assembly and a Board of Directors responsible for most of the decision-making, much like any other government structure or large corporation. ("This is NOT Vietnam, Donnie; there are rules!"- John Goodman in The Big Lebowski) There are rules, as well as budgets, policies and other organizational items of the House that the youth are involved in creating.
In addition to the leadership roles young adults can fill, there is also a wide range of Collectives, organizations that are specific to certain trades or hobbies, to join. The hobby groups include the art collective, book club, hex collective, library collective, noise collective, radio project collective and a theater collective. As you can see, there is an interest group to meet anyone's needs. To make it all run smoothly, there is a core staff of about a dozen volunteers for local shows, and up to fifty volunteers for functions other than music. Volunteers receive discounts to paid admission shows and other special events as an incentive for their time and hard work.
The Assembly, responsible for governing the day-to-day operations, reviewing policies, and reaching out to the community, meets on the second Saturday of every month at 1 p.m. Its members represent the Collectives that use the facility. The Board of Directors is responsible for determining the budget, setting long-term goals, and creating the fund-raising strategies that bring the revenue necessary for the continued existence of the BRYCC House. The Board is always at least 50% youth and 50% parents, professionals and adult policy-makers. They meet monthly and serve year-long terms as Directors. Current Board Members include Alderman Allison (ex-officio); President Liz Palmer; Treasurer Dan Rudyk; co-Secretary Fausta Satterlee; Monique Darby' Jordan Fautz; Michael Hartman' Dona O' Sullivan; Lynn Rippy; Advisory Member; Julia Satterlee; Isabelle Silverman; Sheila Tasman; Laura Thompson and John Yarmuth, Advisory Member.
Jamie Miller was hired in 199 as Executive Director and has been one of the key players in administrative responsibilities, ranging from fundraising to supervision of daily activities during business hours. This kind of deep involvement is what keeps the organization running smoothly.
The purpose of the BH is to serve as a safe, healthy, educational and fun place for kids to express themselves and develop into responsible, educated adults. A place for "creative expression, independent learning, community awareness and youth empowerment" is mission of the BRYCC House. Sounds great, right? But for how long?
Unfortunately, this all takes big money to maintain. The seed grant, which seems like a lot, isn't once the ongoing operating costs arise. According to their web site, www.brycchouse.org, major expenses break down into three main categories: Operational (telephone/Internet use, director salary, office supplies, postage, insurance); Programming (computer equipment, sound equipment, library, school supplies, art supplies, books), and Building costs (rent, utilities, property tax, repair, renovation). These expenses, coupled with a lack of proper business management, could be a formula for failure, if left alone.
A lackadaisical attitude sometimes seems to prevail among the staff and volunteers. I was somewhat taken aback when I asked one of the employees for a few moments of his time for this story, and he said, "Tonight's not really a good night; could you come back tomorrow morning around 10 a.m.?" He was not particularly busy at the time.
This seems to arise from the lack of a sense of ownership within the management/ownership. How can they get excited about something they do not own or for which they are paid little or nothing? Pride is often the source of motivation in this situation. Most people would be proud if someone wanted to write an article about their workplace or project. I am sure this response was very atypical, but it gives evidence that there is not enough sense of ownership within this organization. This could be detrimental in the long run.
I spoke with Alderman Bill Allison about the matter, and he clarified a few points. "The kids said they needed a place to play," said Allison during a phone conversation. So when he was elected, he followed through and arranged the seed grant. Now the kids now have a place to play, among other things.
Allison said that the employee mentioned above works in excess of 70-80 hours a week and devotes much of his time to the BRYCC House. He was probably just having a bad night and wanted to get the place closed for the evening. Nevertheless, the BRYCC House could definitely use any publicity, considering the financial state they are in.
They do serve every kind of musical genre known to man, but the BRYCC House is a no smoking, anti-drug and alcohol-free facility. There is no tolerance for the bad habits many of us have (including vulgarity) within its walls. I know the reasons behind this policy are necessary to maintain a youth center, but it does put them at an automatic disadvantage over more lenient venues that almost welcome that kind of behavior. Tek World, which recently regan selling beer, is just one competitor to the House, while bars and clubs that offer local music have the same advantage. For some reason, many young people think it is necessary to have a beer in one hand and a cigarette in their mouth while attending a concert.
The Noise collective (the group in charge of the music that comes trough the doors at the BH) has worked hard to make the BRYCC House a great place to play. They have achieved this through the work put into the technical side (new microphones and equipment, acoustics, sound personnel, etc....) and also the "people" side of it all, including forbidding offensive, sexist and racist lyrics and language.
Another factor involved in the difficulties they face in music is the lack of a large budget to advertise their shows. Other venues spend big bucks to promote themselves, and it pays off. You have to spend money to make money, and, unfortunately, this is extremely difficult to do when you are a non-profit organization working with a tight budget. The BH, though it is non-profit, still needs to bring in revenue to cover the costs mentioned earlier and to fund the many activities they make available to the public. Admission to shows, in which the BRYCC House takes 1/3 of the door money, while the remaining 2/3 goes to the bands, raises some money.
Playing in a local band is difficult, no doubt. Nobody said it was easy. In my past few Louisville Rock Lowdown columns, the topic has revolved around the difficulties involved with "making it in music," even on a local level. Most complain that they make no money for a show, so the motivation to play lies in the love of music, the need to be seen by others and the excitement one gets when performing. Personally, I made the glorious sum of $3 playing at the BRYCC House with INIDLE.
Would I do it again? Yes. However, some people would not play for that little money, but the support of a worthy cause makes it worthwhile. If bigger bands would make more of an effort to play there and raise some awareness of the House's existence and purpose; then more fans would show up to these shows and it would make the situation better for everyone involved.
Young Louisville musicians have complained for some time now about the lack of a supportive venue to play at. Now we have it; but it just feels like nobody knows we have it. Take the time to spread the word, why don't you? Tell a friend to tell a friend... Go see a show there, even if you do not recognize the band as one of your friends' bands. We finally got what we asked for, now let's make sure that it is getting used. Nuf' said.
If you are interested in donating money, goods, or services to this organization, please contact Jamie Miller at the BRYCC House at 456-1006 or email him at email@example.com. Your donations are tax deductible.
What bands are playing this month, you ask? Here is a complete rundown of all the bands playing (that I know of) at the BRYCC House in March: Walls of Jericho; Cast From Eden; Hyde; Abscise; My Morning Jacket; Craig Wagner; Bloom St.; Squijit; Grey AM; Sunday Evening Dinner Club; Suicide Note; High Hopes; Page 99; Yaphet Kotto; Waifle; Volume 11; the Sutek Conspiracy; Pose No Threat; 451; Emanuel Nice; Punching Bag; Seperation of May; Crazy Brass Smackers; the Lynnwoods; Redheaded Stepchildren; Rise Over Run; Sound of Blue; Pointdexter; Eye Q; Kilowatthours; Idaway; Pflanz; bye.for.now; the Star Death; Breaking Pangea; (DJ's- Radianation; Dank One; Benman; 502 Headz; Cinemagroup, and Mortified Rage,) 200 North, 3N4AFP, Destined to Fall, Koufax, 3 Day Weekend, Few and Far Between, Samiam, the Deal, Sen, Absence of Faith, Kavehill, Factor 9, Gladstone, El Roostars and, last but not least, Slackshop.
Whew! If I left anyone out, I apologize. There was a reason for that run-on sentence, I promise. Everyone I just named deserves a big pat on the back for supporting local music, supporting the idea that there is life outside of cover-dependent bar bands and for supporting the BRYCC House and what it stands for. Every band, theater group, artist, poet, and people in general who utilize the BRYCC House facility needs to understand why it is there for them to use, and know that they are doing something positive for our local scene, as well as our community as a whole.
The BRYCC House is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but has something going on almost every day of the week. It is a most unusual program, in a class of its own, and it is setting the example for others to follow. Love thy neighbor, and we will all be much happier in this place we call home.
For more information on the BRYCC House or its many programs, the following contacts can assist you in your needs:
Jamie Miller, Executive Director- 456-1006
Mike Harpring- 332-5477. Books local shows, runs PA/ lights
Mike Giralico- firstname.lastname@example.org