Fans Respond to UnchARTed Fund Drive
LOWELL -- Mike Dailey Jr. says there aren’t many places like UnchARTed in New England.
The unique option on Market Street offers an art gallery, which sells food, including pizza. There’s also beer and wine. Then there’s Dailey’s goal to book live music every night they’re open.
Dailey, the owner and co-founder, points out UnchARTed hosted a wedding last month and a corporate meeting before that.
“You got to do a lot of things in this economy,” he said.
UnchARTed’s popularity among the public is exhibited by a GoFundMe page Dailey recently setup. The goal is to raise $30,000 to help UnchARTed get through some financial difficulties that have come with the business’ third year at its current location. More than half of the GoFundMe total has been reached in less than a month, with more than 300 people donating.
“I am absolutely blessed I’m doing it at a time when I have fans of what I do to support it,” Dailey said. “That’s why I’m still here.”
UnchARTed, the brainchild of a few artists, was created in 2009. It started as a small art gallery downtown that housed artist studios, and, later on, a space for live music. UnchARTed outgrew this space and one other location before ending up at 103 Market St. roughly three years ago.
With the third location comes more of the same -- gallery space, 12 studios upstairs and the live-music component. But the latest location also offers a kitchen and a bar. UnchARTed employs eight people now and has its own chef, whom Dailey said “really knocked it out of the park” with the menu’s development.
“The food took off more than I thought it would,” Dailey said. “We’ve continued on in the spirit of thinking of food as little bits of art. We put a lot of love into it. It sounds hokey, but it’s true.”
Also, a series of notable musicians have played at UnchARTed, according to Dailey: Evan Dando, of the band The Lemonheads; Lou Barlow, of Dinosaur Jr.; Tommy Stinson, of The Replacements; and Reeves Gabrels, a guitarist for David Bowie and currently a touring member of The Cure.
“The acoustics of the room are great and the vibe in here is great,” Dailey said. “It’s a nice intimate space. Our standing room cap is 99, so you can get a nice crowd in here.”
“It’s all in balance,” he adds. “We do the art shows, we do the music, we do the food, we do the beer and wine. There’s also the community events. We like to host stuff in the middle of the day for after-school programs. ... We like to think of it as community-focused.”
Sounds like business is just fine. Maybe even booming. So what’s the problem?
The intricacies of running a small business is tough, according to Dailey, a 44-year-old married father of 13-year-old twins.
“A restaurant -- that’s high risk,” Dailey said. “A music venue -- it’s high risk. A bar -- it’s high risk. An art gallery. It’s like four impossible businesses I’m running at once.”
The GoFundMe page was created.
“With our multifaceted business model and a city full of our truest fans we expected nothing shy of bounding success,” it states on the GoFundMe page. “However, as we’ve passed the threshold on year three in our newest home, we are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up.
“As we prepare to make some cost-saving adjustments to our business plan, we also realize a financial boost is necessary in order to keep this boat afloat,” it states.
The thought is, getting through this current financial slump will allow for even brighter days at UnchARTed, which will benefit downtown.
Community members seem to agree. As of Wednesday, $17,898 has been raised on the GoFundMe page by 314 people over 24 days.
“I knew there would be support, but I didn’t think it would be as quick,” Dailey said.
Donors on the GoFundMe page included some surprises.
“I had a woman tell me she donated $200 because she said her daughter was an introvert and this is the only place she felt safe to go to in Lowell,” Dailey said.
“Another person was like, ‘My son’s band plays there all the time. Thanks for giving him a chance to play,’” he continued. “Or, ‘I saw this art work there that was so moving and I loved it so much but didn’t buy a piece, and I want to support you like this.’ There’s a lot of different things.”
Dailey stopped short of saying without the funds UnchARTed wouldn’t stay afloat. He did say what he’s received so far has been crucial. He added that reaching the $30,000 goal is crucial as well.
“I like that we’re so ingrained within the community, because we wouldn’t be anywhere without them,” Dailey said.
To help the cause, visit the GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/long-live-uncharted-gallery .
Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis