The Southtown Project has to begin with documenting our rich history. If we make it through, the digital renderings of the videotapes that chronicle the past 25+ years will become the foundation from which a wellspring of culture will flourish.
Our primary destination in regards to the tapes is to make the raw footage available to the countless skaters, musicians, and members of our community: past, present, and future!
There are so many different potential cross sections that can be taken from this collection of tapes; The history of our underground music scene, Pro Skaters, Local Skaters, The Turf, Shut Up & Skate, Mike McGill’s Sk8park, Rob Dyrdek before he was sponsored, and even Tony Hawk with his whole team! Most recently the Thomas Nicholas Band chose our little corner of the world to film their latest video “Security” (check it out below).
One skate band that was already in existence when we first broke ground in 1988 was Nil8, and we’ve captured video of many of their shows over the years, some of which have not seen the light of day for decades.
The Stifs were the first band to form from the skaters who helped to build the ramp. They naturally attracted others like Mag, The Muggles, Rotten Monsters, The Gutter Sluts, The Blue Meanies, MDC, FYP, Chalk Circle, Tub Ring, The Gunga Dins, and The Timmys… the list goes on and on.
In 2005 Kevin Bradford and a dedicated group of individuals came to me (George Sinclair) with the idea of opening an all ages music venue in Southtown. Over the last 10 years or so they have done a good job of attracting musicians from every genre and fostering local talent as well at their venue the Black Sheep. I had done hundreds of shows on the ramp prior to their arrival and the crowd tended to be wild and rambunctious, yet appreciative of a place that catered to their interests.
With the arrival of this new venue, things changed for the better. Kevin and The Black Sheep were dedicated to providing a drug and alcohol-free environment and a safe space. The audience was more interested in the music than making trouble for the first time ever! Fast forward this notion into the present and some of those involved with The Black Sheep (Brian Galecki and Brandon Carnes) have moved forward in the creation of Dumb Records and South Town Studio right here in Southtown.
We have intentionally set our funding goal at a very low level. The thought being that 5K will get us started on the tapes and buy us another year, but in reality we need many times this amount in order to stabilize our 115 year old buildings and form the non profit organization that we want to become. Up to this date we have had to pay for all of our improvements either with money from our day jobs or with the dollars we get $5.00 at a time as entry to the skate park and music venue. That worked well enough to survive on but taxes keep going up, and now our insurance has gone through the roof! Our fans support us, but they are young and cannot afford more than $5.00 at the door.
We are quickly running out of options and new ways to try to stay afloat in Southtown, and are constantly looking for more permanent solutions to insure that we can continue for years to come. Now, we are ready to start a new non-for-profit Southtown organization that will represent all of the Southtown businesses and our community. The goal of this new organization will be to preserve and better our side of town, as well as take on new projects and improvements through grant writing and more organized volunteer work.
We are going to start this mission with a “Best Of” tape that I made around 1996 that showcases the bands and pro skaters that traveled here back then (shown below). We have managed to digitize it, and will release small clips throughout this campaign in order to gain your interest and show you what we would like to do with all of my hundreds of other tapes.
It has been said that “No good deed goes unpunished” and believe me, now I know why! As soon as I finished painting and repairing my buildings from the Rodney King riots, the county doubled my property taxes, and within a few years they doubled them again! During this time I had been helping get many public skate parks built so my customer base was dwindling away. But I was able to keep the park open and the music playing because I had a day job.
Just as our taxes have increased drastically, so have our insurance rates. We are at a point where benefit shows can no longer prop us up, and we have been inspired to move into the non-profit world in order that “The show must go on!”
To do this we need your support. All of us are pouring our personal money into keeping the doors open long enough to cross over into what we see as a permanent solution to these ongoing problems. Considering that yours truly has spent everything I have ever made to turn this corner of the world into what it has become today, and considering that the young, motivated individuals who have linked arms with me are doing the same, please take the small leap of faith that is necessary to join us in this effort by donating at a level that is comfortable for you, and asking your like minded friends to do the same.
Your contribution to our cause will be seen in the prosperity of our endeavors. Southtown has become a hub of creativity where you can be a part of a unique and thriving community. This is a home for ALL of us that are “cut from the same cloth”; so join us today to create a better tomorrow!
Risks and challenges
Some of the Skank Skates VHS tapes we are trying to revive are physically damaged and may have degraded with time. It will be a challenge to revive some of these tapes, and while we have methods in mind of going about doing so, we can not guarantee all of them will turn out to be the best quality due to their age.
Filing for an official non-for-profit organization will take time. From what we have been researching, the initial paper work will take only a few weeks but waiting on the Illinois Attorney General to review our application will take months.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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