A rendering of the Baltimore Rock Opera Society’s planned space, “The Paradise,” by Greg Bowen.
A rendering of the Baltimore Rock Opera Society’s planned space, “The Paradise,” by Greg Bowen.

Thirteen months after being suddenly evicted from its longtime headquarters on the first floor of the Bell Foundry building, the Baltimore Rock Opera Society has successfully raised more than $75,000 to build a “forever home” and better secure its future.

The rock opera troupe’s Crowdrise campaign topped its goal on Tuesday night, BROS announced on social media. Leaders launched the campaign in December 2016 to obtain a space that would house performance and practice areas, offices, front and back houses, storage and more. The first $50,000 will serve as a “nest egg” to install light infrastructure and audio equipment and customize the space, the fundraiser says, while the rest will go to general operations, such as production tools and equipment and space rental.

AHHHHHHHH YOU DID IT! We hit our crazy fundraising goal and it’s finally over! THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who supported us in 2017 to get us to this point – we now have $50,000 to put towards our Forever Home! https://t.co/4qbZBowxIL pic.twitter.com/ElFF0euQWa

— Baltimore Rock Opera Society (@BmoreRockOpera) January 16, 2018

“It feels really good to know that we can finally shut it down, and that our community has our back in that way, even when the ask is kind of big,” BROS artistic director Aran Keating told Baltimore Fishbowl Wednesday morning.

The group had actually wrapped up fundraising just after New Year’s Day, Keating said. They were about $2,500 short of their goal, but members were “tapped out” after a long year of soliciting donations. “It’s been a long haul, it’s been more than a year, we’re all kind of exhausted,” he said of their mindset earlier this month.

But one avid fan, Matthew Erwin, stepped up and offered to match any additional donations that members could collect, which galvanized some others to keep fundraising over the last two weeks, Keating said. “That smaller group of donors, of families and friends of people who are involved, took us to that final step.”

The city’s popular DIY rock opera group is now working with the owner of a space that should suit BROS’ needs. “We’re starting to put some meat on the bones of a potential long-term lease arrangement,” Keating said. “That would be phase one of a forever home.”

He said he couldn’t reveal other details about the space or its location, but assured that “if things keep moving in a positive direction with this space, both our people and our fans will be really happy about it.”

Meanwhile, the shows must go on. The Bell Foundry, which the city permitted BROS to re-enter in February 2017, will continue to serve as its workshop and headquarters through at least the end of this year, Keating said. The group has a busy calendar, including a collaboration on two short plays with the Arena Players beginning Feb. 9 and production work on its next original show, “Incredibly Dead” set to begin this Sunday, ahead of its planned premiere in May.

Keating said 2017 was a tough year that left the nonprofit organization’s future uncertain. The last 12 months included a temporary shutdown of the BROS band’s practice space, an expensive burglary, the owner of the Bell Foundry putting the building on the market for $1 million, and even some well-intentioned, but unwanted graffiti that the group had to clean up.

To see the fundraiser work out was rewarding, Keating said.

“That so many people have proven to us this year that they care about us being a long-term part of their city, part of their entertainment, part of their community, we intend to really honor that,” he said. “Honor the people who have thrown down on our behalf, and follow through and make sure this company sticks around and continues to improve over 7,000 more years.”

Avatar photo

Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...