By Amy Nicole Tangel
Musicians and the venues they call home are in an unprecedented battle to keep establishments alive while the stages are dark. But many in the music community say they are finding their hands tied as they desperately seek ways to stay alive.
If the only hope lies in the unity of the music community, music could seemingly live on forever. In spite of the times, Adam Craig Ellis, promoter and director of marketing at The Paramount in Huntington, N.Y., and his team are giving it their all to utilize the space the best they can to generate revenue until things can fully reopen.
Attached to The Paramount is Spotlight, an art bar, and now restaurant, supporting local artists and musicians where Adam’s new focus as promoter has been reinventing operations since they re-opened in the early summer, after only having initially opened its doors in September 2019. From the middle of March to the end of June, the Spotlight was closed, and now it has seemingly been a lifeline for The Paramount and some of its staff.
“We were only operating for a couple months before we had to shut everything down,” Adam said.
Being the person responsible for providing entertainment in a time where it barely exists in an essential world has left Adam worried for himself and for fellow colleagues about what the future lies. During a time when everything was completely shut down, Adam said even though he enjoyed the temporary break from the stress and the pace, he just worked to try and make things better for what’s to come.
With a career spanning 25 years, Adam started out his career doing promotions and marketing for arena football in Florida working for various companies, eventually landing with the Tampa Bay Rays as promotions assistant for a season in 1999. He made his way to New York in 2001, working as promoter for Feld Entertainment, best known for its production of, Disney on Ice. A couple years later, he signed on with Nassau Coliseum as director of marketing for six and a half years before taking on The Paramount, which he has called home since 2011.
“It’s been quite a ride, and unfortunately now there’s pretty much nothing left of the industry,” he said.
With local venues like Revolution in Amityville, N.Y., recently shutting their doors for good as a direct result of the pandemic, losses are being felt across the board. Performers and staff of venues across Long Island and throughout the country, including Adam, have taken action by petitioning Congress to help save their stages and their livelihoods. The #SaveOurStagesAct and the #RestartAct have simultaneously been initiated by the National Independent Venue Association pleading for financial assistance from the federal government to be able to re-open.
Adam said, “If you look at all of Broadway to every trade show, convention, arena, stadium, performer, hot dog vendor, and ticket taker it is something not too many people put too much thought into right now, because it’s not essential and nothing about it is, but to some people it’s their entire lives.”
“It is an opportunity out there for those of us in the industry that have been affected by this to rally around some sort of cause that will be an ability, for at least the venue owners, to recoup some of the expenses that they’ve lost,” he said.
Throughout the summer, Adam brought weekly live music to Spotlight, utilizing a safe and socially-distanced space by opening the restaurant to the street and expanding what he had to work with. The calendar was filled with events such as live music every Sunday in July and August with singer, Chelsea Takami, Audition-Night-at-Spotlight; a chance for a local Long Island musician to win a spot playing outside under The Paramount Marquee, and special discount days to dine as a way of giving back to support First Responders, Industry and Essential workers in the community.
Adam said the different themes have become an opportunity for he and his staff to become creative with the calendar with fun things to keep them excited and entertained while they wait for the stage at The Paramount to re-open.
With a seating capacity of 1,573, The Paramount is smaller in comparison to arenas and stadiums waiting to re-open, but all the more fragile in how much it can withstand with the doors remaining closed for an indefinite period of time. Looking at the glass half full, Adam is optimistic in the idea that, because of their smaller nature they will be among the first to re-open, but it then becomes about financially being able to do it.
Although it is too early to tell, Adam said he foresees one of the primary changes to The Paramount upon reopening being the elimination of general admission. Everyone will have to remain seated, but having previously had regular evenings of comedy shows, boxing, and seated acoustic shows, Adam has confidence in their ability to configure safe, socially-distanced shows moving forward and said furthermore, “they have to.”
“The GA floor with a thousand people on it, moshing, the dancing, the jumping, the sweating; We’re a long way away from that coming back,” he said.
Looking towards the future, Adam said the reality is a lot of people in the industry have had to rethink their careers, but he is just trying to stay hopeful and stick with it taking it all one day at a time.
Photos courtesy of Adam Craig Ellis & Kate Fox