White Oak Music Hall is a five-acre entertainment complex, located just North of downtown Houston that typically hosts over 400 live events a year. The space has 3 unique venues and has hosted huge acts like Tame Impala, 21 Savage, Sturgill Simpson, Vampire Weekend, MGMT and more. But behind the big productions and impressive light shows, there is a team of extremely dedicated and passionate people.
The team at White Oak Music Hall, like many other entertainment businesses in the country, has been hit extremely hard by the COVID-19 crisis. The management team saw that so many of their employees were struggling without work, and they wanted to help — so they launched a GoFundMe. The response was incredible.
Meet the team behind White Oak Music Hall:
What was it like when you found out you’d have to shut down due to the pandemic? What kinds of emotions were you experiencing as a team?
As a business that relies on bringing people together, the challenges were immediate and jarring. 2020 started as our best year yet and we were working on some really incredible shows. Then, over the span of 10 days in March, most of our shows were postponed or canceled. A stay-at-home order that came shortly after that’s kept our doors closed for the last two months. Our event staff — security, box office, stagehands, audio engineers, etc — went from working most nights of the week to being left without any work for the foreseeable future.
While safety is our #1 priority and we support the city’s decision to close non-essential businesses, it is absolutely devastating to see our team left without work.
What gave you the idea to launch the GoFundMe campaign?
We immediately knew we had to do something to help the staff that was temporarily out of work, and started brainstorming ideas. We thought our fans would step up to show their support if we launched a GoFundMe, but wanted to get creative and put in the effort to really make it special. We started coming up with a list of one-of-a-kind donation gifts — backstage tours, sound and lighting design lessons, custom artwork from local artists, and even lifetime passes. By donating, you not only help support our staff (100% of the proceeds go to them) but you can also get a ton of unique perks and experiences.
What was the response like? Were you surprised by the amount of support?
We were absolutely floored by the response. We figured we might get $20,000 or so over time and would have been thrilled. We launched on Friday and by Tuesday we had nearly $35,000 raised for the staff. Right now we’re at $65,000 which is absolutely unbelievable to me.
However, the need to help our staff is still there — while city’s are slowly working to re-open businesses, venues will unfortunately be among the last. The focus for us now is how to get people to continue their support.
What was it like to see your community come together to support you in such a big way?
Our team works hard to be a cultural pillar in the Houston community, and it was truly incredible to see that work recognized. We’re beyond grateful for every single person who donated and helped spread the word.