Following is a letter from Eddie Carranza, owner of the Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave. that was initially posted to the Greater Goethe Neighborhood Association (GGNA) message board. The Pipeline is sharing this letter with the permission of Carranza.
Logan Square Neighborhood,
I’d like to thank everyone for taking time on their Sunday to meet at the Congress Theater. It was a good chance for us to get to know one another and share ideas on what we can do to help be a good neighbor. Unfortunately the hearing is still going to take place on the 17th, called for by the Alderman and not the local community.
The Congress Theater is going to work hard to protect its image, as we need this in order to attract a wider variety of artists/bands. Neighbors have suggested we bring in new types of music, and we would love to do this. The bands that we would like to bring in to the theater are currently playing outside of our neighborhood; in other cities and venues across the country, venues they already have long historic relationships with the artists. Our image and reputation is an important factor in bringing in these artists and we need to ensure we have the support of the community 100%.
There have been many slanderous comments made or repeated on this forum that can and have damaged the reputation of the theater and other local businesses. If the community wants to attract a wider variety of music, then we need your support and encourage you to give us constructive criticism, (like Tiff funding, great idea) rather than false accusations and the spreading of incorrect rumors. To be honest, we lost an agent that represents a wide variety of bands from country music to Jazz & Rock, because he read an article on WBEZ and saw the negative community postings. It wasn’t just the image of Congress that the agent didn’t like, but the perception of the venue within the community and accusations made by the Alderman. This scares the artists and agents to want to bring their suburban music fans into the city.
The reputation of the Logan Square neighborhood plays a big part in deciding if the agent feels the community is safe enough in order to change the venue for their suburban demographic.
We need the support of the community, the bloggers, the journalists, and the Alderman to bring in these top international artists. We must work hard to portray how great our neighborhood is, and how it’s constantly improving. We cannot let our neighborhood’s reputation be damaged when we work so hard to build it. The more business brought to the venue will create foot traffic within our local community. They will spend money, they will buy products and they will see all the wonderful things Logan Square has to offer.
Relationships made with managers/agents wont just happen overnight. Little by little Congress has and will build their trust in not only the theater but the entire neighborhood. Anything that puts Congress in a negative light will hinder and not help us to increase the variety of music we have. These community forums are a great place for us to share information, ideas, concerns, etc; but I want to make sure everyone understands how damaging false accusations can be towards our business.
I hope through all of this everyone feels free to call Congress directly when they want to know something. We will give you real accurate information, first hand. We hope our open door policy not only solves any concerns but also protects our image within the community. We want our local community to prosper, and I hope Congress can help to initiate this growth.