On the Future of Flywheel

Dear friends and family of Flywheel:

It’s been a long, long time since we’ve all been able to gather, and you have all been in our thoughts during this extremely long, hard year.

Today, we’re writing to share an announcement about the future of Flywheel. Over the past months, a core group of volunteers has been meeting regularly to talk about the challenges posed by COVID-19, most pressingly and unglamorously among them the whole money bug-a-boo. Given the duration and open-endedness of the pandemic, it is no longer prudent for us to continue renting the space in Easthampton’s Old Town Hall that we have occupied for the past 10 years. We’re immensely grateful to CitySpace for being supportive and flexible partners during this crisis, and are sad to leave a place that has fostered so many shows, events, memories, and dreams for all of us.

However, please do not take this change as a sign that anything is “over”, least of all Flywheel. This bittersweet decision has been very carefully made to preserve the future viability of our collective, and our ability to support art and music in Western Massachusetts. It makes more sense to conserve our remaining resources than put them towards a space we cannot currently use, and instead focus on brainstorming how we can evolve to serve our communities.

In fact, the original iteration of Flywheel, VAMA (Valley Arts & Music Alliance), founded by Cindy Bow and Helen Harrison, was a roving booking collective that put on shows in a variety of spaces around the Valley such as lawns, art galleries, cafés, and record stores. Twenty-one years later, Flywheel’s still not too old to couchsurf (though a more permanent home would be amazing).

We’re grateful for all of your support over the years through your attendance at shows, donations, and goodwill. We’re also grateful for our time in Easthampton; for the concerts big and small, pancake breakfasts, makers’ markets, Antonio’s runs, dance parties, zine fests, art shows, workshops, weddings, playgroups, and Zumba classes; and for the chance to prove time and time again that doing it ourselves, outside of the mainstream and without a profit motive, remains a vital and enduring means of making space for the things that matter.

Early next year, we’ll be hosting some open community discussions to collectively hash out our next steps going forward–keep an eye out for future announcements. The future is a blank page, and we are open to any and all suggestions/brainstorms/hook-ups that you can offer.

If you’re looking to help, we’ll still be participating in Giving Tuesday this year, and would be super appreciative of any funds which could help cushion this transition.

Stay tuned for updates, feel free to reach out with any thoughts or questions, and stay safe.

The Flywheel Arts Collective

p.s. Any tips on large vans and/or long-and-short term storage spaces? Be in touch.