NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Efforts to help save Nashville’s iconic Exit/In have gone global with artists, record labels, locals and tourists donating thousands of dollars to help save the music venue.
Organizers said they want to save the venue from luxury hotel developers after the property has “gone under contract to a firm that’s purchasing independent venues.”
A GoFundMe established for the venue has raised more than $137,000 from more than 2,700 donors as of Wednesday morning.
Exit/In and nearby bar Hurry Back owners Chris and Telisha Cobb hold the current lease and plan to present concerts at the venue as soon as it is safe to do so.
Chris Cobb said they have asked the firm that was awarded the contract to sell the property back to them, so they can keep the music going.
“We’re hopeful the outcry of support will allow them to make the decision that turning the Exit/In over to the people who have owned and operated for the last 17 years is what is best for Nashville, what is best for our music community here,” said Cobb.
Councilmember Jeff Syracuse said losing Exit/In would be an irreplaceable loss though this is not the first time the city’s culture has been threatened due to growth.
“We have tenants in older buildings, but they don’t own the property and when you have large economic booms like we’re going through, the money is too great. Unfortunately we are a victim of our own success. We are losing our culture right now as we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Exit/In,” said Syracuse.
He said he is very concerned about losing what makes Nashville the music capital of the world. Syracuse said he recognizes the property owners have a right to sell but he’s working toward long term solutions to stay ahead of historical preservation.
“We have landowners who have owned a property for a long time and they want to be able to retire and it’s part of their plan, I understand that. How can we in government potentially help to make them whole to save what has made that property special and critical for the city.? That’s where we need to try and get in early,” said Syracuse.
Chris Cobb told News 2 developers need to be able to answer to the community when it comes to how these decisions are made.
“When your decisions become bottom-line focused over community focused, you no longer can support support the community’s need to support. So that’s the great threat, I think, to music venues here at home and across the world becoming corporatized is that they no longer serve that purpose in the community,” said Cobb.
Mayor John Cooper expressed his support for Exit/In on social media, saying he hopes the current owner or any future owners will protect the landmark venue so it can thrive another 50 years.
A gathering will take place Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m. to support the venue and celebrate its 50 years of music.
Money raised from the GoFundMe will go toward the couple’s offer. Cobb said if their bid fails, all money raised will be donated to organizations like the National Independent Venue Association and the Music Venue Alliance of Nashville.