If you want to see more music and change in Fort Wayne, then this year’s My City Summit might be for you.
Along with raising awareness about what could be a catalytic new music venue in Fort Wayne, it will be inspiring locals to get involved a ripple effect of revitalization similar to efforts that have transformed other cities, including Nashville, Tennessee — the Music City itself.
Ryan Krueckeberg, director at large of the Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana’s Living Fort Wayne blog, said the My City Summit is an annual event hosted by YLNI, and this year’s event is special for two reasons.
First, it is the longest Summit to date, with four days of activities. Second, one of the main points this year is getting future leaders up to date on a music venue project already underway in our region.
"The overall mission is to get people engaged in what’s going on and why it benefits the community," Krueckeberg said.
Although Fort Wayne has a robust music scene between bigger cities like Chicago and Indianapolis, a common complaint among local music lovers is that there is no midsize venue where bands on a budget can play.
Whereas smaller acts fit into venues such as the Brass Rail and bigger acts can play the Embassy Theatre or Memorial Coliseum, acts that fall into the Goldilocks range between big and small don’t have many options that are "just right."
So YLNI is promoting a project to renovate The Clyde Theatre at Quimby Village to make our city a better stop for midsize music acts touring the area.
Krueckeberg said a concert venue has been on YLNI’s wish list for several years now, and when the organization found out that Rick Kinney, a local musician and former technical director at the Embassy, has been working to renovate The Clyde since 2012, it was exactly what they were looking for.
Kinney, 33, said the future venue will hold up to 2,200 people with standing room only on the first floor and a special VIP balcony and bar. His estimated ticket price for events is about $37.50.
"(Kinney) has his ducks in a row, and he just needs the funding," Krueckeberg said.
Kinney has been inspired by midsize venues in other cities, such as the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis and The Riviera in Chicago. He started traveling the Midwest to see venues and shows, and play with bands, when he was 13.
He still plays the drums as a founding member of the local instrumental rock band "Moser Woods," which started in 2003, and he has experience doing audio and lighting work with his company, Even Keel Event Productions LLC.
Although he thinks the Clyde is an ideal music venue because it’s "acoustically perfect" with no parallel surfaces, it won’t be used exclusively for music.
Instead, it will be a multipurpose venue for events including wedding receptions, corporate events and fundraisers. There will also be an art gallery in the main lobby and seating for an adjoining restaurant during regular business hours, Kinney said.
He quit his job at the Embassy in December 2014 to focus on the project full time, and he said it’s all ready to go.
The local architectural firm MSKTD & Associates has approved The Clyde’s safety and has drawn designs for its renovation. Now Kinney needs additional funding to the tune of $2 million to get going, and funding could be on the horizon.
The Clyde is being considered by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and Greater Fort Wayne Inc. as a potential Phase 1 project for the Regional Cities Initiative.
If the Clyde is chosen and the grant is awarded, the venue could be ready as early as the end of next summer, Kinney said.
If the project doesn’t find an immediate funding source, it could still happen. It just would take longer.
That’s one reason YLNI is speaking up and supporting The Clyde now. The sooner it becomes a reality, the more it will boost the region’s talent retention and help keep budding artists here.
"This is going to be what helps make Fort Wayne cool," Kinney said. "But it’s way bigger than me, and the way people can help is to send the message to local leaders that Fort Wayne needs this."
Beyond the obvious benefits in local music circles, The Clyde could spark a ripple effect of change at Quimby Village and the rest of the city because it’s a project by millennials and for millennials, aimed at attracting the young, artistic demographic.
Brothers Benjamin and Max Goldberg helped start similar revitalization efforts in Nashville, Tennessee, with projects ranging from concert venues to restaurants, shops and bars through their company, Strategic Hospitality. They did it by creating spaces where they and their friends would want to go.
The Goldbergs will be giving a speech at the My City Summit’s symposium July 31 to share ideas with Fort Wayne, and YLNI already has plans for putting more ideas into action at Quimby Village near The Clyde.
If you’re interested in Fort Wayne’s future and you’ve never attended the Summit before, this year might be the time to start.
My City Summit
When: July 29-Aug. 1
Who: Anyone can attend. You don’t have to be a young adult; you just have to be interested in Fort Wayne’s future and possibly miss a couple days of work.
Tentative schedule of events
Wednesday, July 29
6-8:30 p.m. -- Registration and a concert highlighting the local music groups Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra and Trichotomous Hippopotamus.
Thursday, July 30
Educational focus sessions throughout the day highlighting the effect of culture, connection and innovation on creating attractive communities.
The focus sessions are interactive group sessions. Several sessions will be held during the day, and you can select which ones you want to attend when you purchase a ticket.
|•||Building a Better Community through Philanthropy and the Arts;|
|•||Diversity in Fort Wayne;|
|•||Marketing our City;|
|•||Deveoping Future Leaders;|
|•||The Future of Our City|
5:30 p.m. -- The YLNI Hot Spot monthly social networking event at Pedal City on West Main Street
Friday, July 31
6 a.m. -- Rise and Grind with yoga, crossfit, canoeing, riverboat tours, ARCH historical tours followed by a lunch symposium.
2 p.m. -- The symposium starts at Grand Wayne Center, featuring speakers Benjamin and Max Goldberg. The Ian Rolland Courageous Leadership Award recipient will also be recognized at the symposium.
The symposium is followed by a VIP Happy Hour limited to Early Bird ticketholders. It is a cocktail hour networking event where the attendees can network with Summit leaders, speakers, organizers and YLNI leadership.
Saturday, August 1
Participants are encouraged to visit the Barr Street Market on the corner of Barr and Wayne streets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.