Fri 1/10 @ 7:30 PM
Roughly 20 years has passed since the old Croatian Liberty Hall was transformed into one of Northeast Ohio’s most cherished venues — the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern.
Champions of the Collinwood neighborhood, owners Cindy Barber and Mark Leddy saw the potential in maintaining the vintage vibe and authenticity of the building, which was divided between the larger Ballroom and the intimate Tavern.
Over the last two decades, thousands of bands — most notably the White Stripes, Kings of Leon, Guided by Voices and the Black Keys (the site of their first gig) — have graced its stages.
Looking ahead, the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern has booked a “Beachland Building Fund Benefit” for January 10 at the Waterloo Road club. The night of music includes Abbey Rodeo, HearAfter and Alex Bevan.
CoolCleveland talked to venue co-owner Cindy Barber — a driving force in the development of the Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District in North Collinwood — about the much-needed fundraising effort and the importance of the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern in the area.
CoolCleveland: Let’s start off discussing the upcoming benefit show.
Cindy Barber: Abbey Rodeo, HearAfter and Alex Bevan aren’t taking any money. They’re letting us take the $10 at the door to help. That’s them just stepping up because they’re awesome people. It’s really wonderful. People are helping and that’s good.
CC: What’s happening with the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern?
CB: The 10,000-square-foot Beachland building was built in 1949/1950 and needs some repairs. We fortunately had one of our investors step up and pay for the redo of the whole roof, which was 30 years old and is being replaced right now. That was a lot of money, but now we have to repair all of the stuff that’s on the inside and kind of spruce it up a little bit. We have to start fixing where there’s been some damage because of the leaks that have popped up over the years. This benefit show will help us fix the broken plaster and kind of perk up the inside. That’s the goal this year.
CC: What kind of renovations do you have planned for the interior?
CB: We’re going to be in the process of updating the kitchen and the stages with new carpeting and curtains.
CC: What else is planned for the Beachland going forward?
CB: We’re trying to come up with a way people can support the venue in a more practical way. Maybe some kind of a program where people can be members and come to so many shows a year for a flat fee. We’re just sort of planning for the future and trying to strategize as to how to make the Beachland sustainable, because it’s getting harder and harder with so many venues in town. Every brewery is doing music now, which is awesome for local musicians, but a little difficult for the sustainability and the Cleveland market. We just want to have a legacy here and keep the Beachland going because it’s important for the neighborhood.
CC: Regarding the development of the Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District, in your opinion what role did the Beachland complex play?
CB: I think everybody would say we are the anchor. The development corporation was able to create an arts and entertainment district because the Beachland started first in 2000. But we’re still struggling to get other places open. We’re trying to work on a new model based on the Gordon Square Arts District where we can kind of create an overlay district to potentially get support, funding and capital because we have a lot of arts entities here. There’s starting to be some movement. We just need some more governmental capital investment support to help some of these (North Collinwood) houses get rehabbed.
CC: It sounds like it’s an exciting and important time for the area.
CB: I do feel like it’s finally North Collinwood’s time. People are moving over here because they’re getting priced out of the west side. So things are perking up right now.