In 1843, a handful of musicians and music-loving neighbors in Salem, North Carolina petitioned town elders to take a former potter’s studio and dedicate it to the purpose of public entertainment.
Moravian church leaders frowned on “good-for-nothing things” and other devilish distractions, so much of what was presented in the new room was music, lectures by the temperance society and “magic lanterns,” early picture shows put on by Br. Christian Friedrich Sussdorf. Located south of Fish Alley at Main Street, Sixth House was our area’s first entertainment venue.
If you tugged on the string that runs through the rich musical history of Winston-Salem, it would go all the way back to the Sixth Room, past Brown’s Opera House, Winston’s first indoor entertainment space built in 1880 on Fourth Street across from the county courthouse; past Blind Boy Fuller and Ernest Thompson and the buskers between tobacco warehouses on Old Town Street in the early 20th Century; past the Dungeon Club on North Liberty Street, Rodney Sumler’s club where The Eliminators cut their teeth in the 1970s; past The Orchestra Pit, Pablo’s, The Garage, Rubber Soul, Thea’s Jazz & Blues, Speakeasy Jazz, The Wherehouse and the rest of the clubs that rebirthed music in downtown Winston-Salem in the late ‘90s; and past Baity’s down to Ziggy’s Tavern and Jay Stephens, who hosted so many iconic shows and legendary artists underneath the old circus tent from 1991 until 2007.
The Ramkat plans to build on the long legacy of live music in Winston-Salem with a community concert hall and performance space at 170 West Ninth Street in the northern end of the Arts District that borrows from the best of our musical heritage and other great rooms around the world, while at the same time harkening back to the basic philosophy of the Sixth Room…without the temperance talks.
While our focus will be on presenting live music, The Ramkat will host performing arts of all stripes, as well as other community events and entertainment, including comedy, film and simulcast/pay-per-view concerts.
We are collaborators and will actively seek out partnerships in the community, whether it’s directly with artists, performers, local businesses, educators, or non-profit organizations. We believe a rising tide floats all boats.
And lastly, The Ramkat will be a space where everyone in the community feels safe and welcomed.
We believe something special is happening in downtown Winston-Salem right now, and we are excited to be a part of it. Music venues are inherently risky endeavors, but we believe in this community. Your support of this Kickstarter campaign will ensure The Ramkat has the resources necessary to attract world-class artists and provide them and our audience with a comfortable and exciting environment to enjoy the show, but it means much more than that. It means that you believe that the City of Arts and Innovation should have a community arts space dedicated to presenting live music and other entertainment.
Beyond contributing to our success, you’re part of The Ramkat family. Welcome!
The Ramkat is a two-level, 11,670- square-foot, 1,000-person-capacity live music venue, handicap-accessible, and serviced by three bars serving a wide variety of beer, wine, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages.
Located at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Trade Street and connected to the balcony level of the venue, Gas Hill is an intimate cocktail lounge and drinking room with a mix of bar stools and community tables.
Richard Emmett - Richard has been involved in arts and entertainment in Winston-Salem for more than 20 years. He was an integral part of the downtown "Music In The Streets" series that began in 1998, and he helped to create the popular "Summer On Trade" series (now "Summer on Liberty") in 1999. He later co-founded Silver Moon Saloon with Vicki Moore, and founded one of Winston-Salem’s longest running music venues, The Garage. As an owner/operator (for profit) and/or executive director (not-for-profit) of multiple organizations, Richard has been responsible for managing and overseeing the staffing, programming and operations for businesses with budgets of $250,000 - $1,000,000 at organizations including Children's Theater of Winston-Salem, Arts Council of Winston-Salem, and Nash County Arts Council. Most recently, Richard has worked as program director of The Blue Ridge Music Center.
Andy Tennille - A photographer, filmmaker and writer, Andy Tennille’s work has been featured in Rolling Stone, NPR, Washington Post and The New York Times, among many others. His collaborators include artists such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Steve Winwood, Widespread Panic, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Bob Weir.
In 2011, Andy launched Crossroads @ SECCA, a quarterly concert series in partnership with the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Arts that’s hosted world-class musicians including Gillian Welch, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Leon Russell, David Grisman & Del McCoury, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Lucinda Williams, Justin Townes Earle, Patterson Hood, Hiss Golden Messenger and the Blind Boys of Alabama. In 2016, Andy launched More Barn, a monthly concert series in partnership with Wake Forest University at the historic Barn at Reynolda Village.
Bryan Ledbetter - If being the owner of creative agency Airtype AND uber-local clothing brand Camel City Goods wasn’t enough to earn him rock star status, Led was an actual rock star, playing drums in Evoka while running indie rock label Hero Records. He’s won championships in Flatland BMX and recently completed the renovation of a 100-year-old historic building on Brookstown Avenue. Led also sits as a voting member of the Recording Academy/Grammy Awards.
170 West Ninth Street is located at the highly-trafficked corner of North Trade Street, the main thoroughfare through the Arts District, and Martin Luther King Blvd. near Highway 52, the northern gateway to downtown Winston-Salem for the foreseeable future with the construction work on I-40 Business set to begin in 2018.
We are located within the Entertainment District, just down the street from Mary’s Gourmet Diner, Test Pattern, Silver Moon Saloon, Finnigan’s Wake, Single Brothers, Sweet Potatoes, Camel City BBQ, Crafted: The Art of the Taco, Barcade, 6th & Vine Wine Bar, Señor Bravo, Bar Piña and Mission Pizza and adjacent to the new Wise Man and Fiddlin’ Fish breweries.
Downtown Revitalization & Economic Development
The time is right in Winston-Salem for a venue like The Ramkat.
Investment in the revitalization of downtown Winston-Salem since 2000 topped $1.5 billion dollars in 2017, led by the 240-acre Innovation Quarter development by Wake Forest University. But the Innovation Quarter isn’t the only part of downtown that’s evolving. Benton Convention Center recently completed a $15 million renovation, and downtown hotel room capacity will grow by a third with the completion of Hotel Indigo on Fourth Street, Hampton Inn & Suites on Third Street and two planned hotels as a part of the Brookstown District at BB&T Ballpark development slated to be finished by 2021.
According to the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership 2017 Housing Guide, there are currently 3,058 housing units in downtown WSNC. In 2000, there were less than 1,000 housing units in downtown Winston-Salem. Approximately 9,500 people currently live within a two-mile radius of downtown, and city planning officials expect that number to double by 2021.
With a plan of an average of 17 shows and events each month, we anticipate hosting approximately 72,000 people at The Ramkat every year. We expect to create approximately 30 full- and part-time jobs to staff the venue and anticipate our annual economic impact to be approximately $2.16 million, based on cultural tourism calculations by Americans for the Arts and Visit NC.
Risks and challenges
Music venues are inherently risky endeavors. The challenges are numerous and well-known, and we know them because we’ve seen great, iconic rooms, near and far, close their doors. It is a tough, tough business.
But we believe in this community. We believe that the City of Arts and Innovation can support a community space like The Ramkat. We believe people who live in Winston-Salem understand the importance of a vibrant and diverse arts community and how it contributes to our quality of life.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. The same could be said about starting a music venue. At the end of the day, we know the success of The Ramkat has a little bit to do with us and a lot to do with all of you.
We believe we have a really good village.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)