Courtesy of Jennifer Slavin

One of the hardest hit industries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is the live events industry, and New Haven’s venues are no exception. 

Pacific Standard Tavern, The State House, Toad’s Place and other fixtures of social life in New Haven have been hit hard since March 2020 due to the shutdown with no in-person concerts allowed. Now residents and former event-goers are supporting venues through crowd-sourcing, but the city’s venues nonetheless face uncertain futures.

“I feel like everyone is supporting what they can, but it’s kind of running out at this point,” Adam Northway, the owner of Pacific Standard Tavern, told the News in an interview. “This thing has dragged on for six months.”

Northway recently celebrated Pacific Standard Tavern’s sixth anniversary. He moved to New Haven from California seven years ago to open up the venue with the mission to bring live music to Elm City.

Connecticut’s state government first ordered the venue and others like it to close in March. The state dealt another blow in July when Governor Ned Lamont declared the venue close “for the foreseeable future.” Due to the nature of the venues and the pandemic, Northway remarked that state orders meant that venues like his were “the first to close and will be the last to open”.

Although the venue’s closing brought economic losses, Pacific Standard Tavern’s fans, customers and employees started a GoFundMe page to raise money. At first, Northway was against the fundraising, citing the fact that many people and businesses feel increased pressures due to mandated closures and the contraction of the economy, but he has since embraced the generosity.

Slate Ballard, one of the co-founders of The State House, another music venue in New Haven, has been cautious about trying alternative ways of bringing in revenue during the pandemic. He told the News that “just waiting to see what happens” might be the best way to mitigate losses, instead of trying risky and costly initiatives to stay afloat.

The State House, founded in August 2018, is one of the newer music venues in the area — it hosted just a year and half of shows before the pandemic hit.

Fans started a virtual tip jar for the company, but Ballard remains worried about the future and “not knowing” what live music will look like on the other side of the pandemic.

Both Pacific Standard Tavern and The State House have asked for help from the government and joined the National Independent Venue Association, a group of 2000 independent music venues in the 50 states that have bonded together to ask Washington for targeted legislation for help.

The Association uses the hashtag #saveourstages to bring awareness to their cause and provide online support to music venues nationwide. 

The change in the music venues has affected the social life of members of the Yale community. Ileana Valdez ’21 told the News that the closing of music venues such as Toad’s Place is a loss of the “iconic part of first years’ lives.”

Valdez, who serves as a first-year counselor, noted the change in Yale’s social atmosphere without such venues.

“It’s really weird hosting duty on Wednesday nights when that day doesn’t have the same significance for the class of 2024 as it does for everyone else on Yale’s campus,” Valdez said. “I think Wednesdays and Toad’s club gave so many Yalies an excuse to bond –– we’ve lost an entire avenue of a community building.”

Connecticut is currently in the second stage of its reopening plan. 

George Wang | george.li.wang@yale.edu