Arts & Theater

Sacramento officials lend hand to help underground music venue reopen

A Sacramento arts and music space reopened for a fundraiser Saturday with the help of city officials, weeks after the city shut it down for building and code violations.

Artists at the Red Museum said it’s uncommon for underground music venues to receive support from civic leaders and applauded the Sacramento City Council’s new approach.

“This is the kind of thing that makes Sacramento a place where people want to live,” said Shahera Hyatt, a 32-year-old comedian slated to perform Saturday.

Supporters of the performance venue, housed in an old warehouse on 15th and C streets, expected the Sacramento music scene to shrink after the city discovered unapproved building work and electrical equipment at the Red Museum in late July.

The Oakland Ghost Ship fire that claimed 36 lives in December prompted city leaders across the nation to take a closer look at so-called “DIY” arts spaces and to close those that failed safety inspections.

Instead of closing the Red Museum permanently, city leaders in Sacramento lent a hand to get the venue up and running again, said Jennifer Jackson, the venue’s co-founder.

Members of the IBEW Local 340 union volunteered over the last three weeks to redo the electrical systems in the dated warehouse. City Councilman Steve Hansen worked with Jackson and code enforcement officials to expedite the permit process.

The city delivered and set up a free stage for a diverse slate of live musical performers, ranging from punk rock duo No Age to rapper Hobo Johnson, at the “Red Ex: Vol. 1” fundraiser Saturday. Local companies Ruhstaller Beer and Bogle Vineyards donated the libations for the evening. The event was scheduled to last from 3 p.m. until midnight.

Jackson and others credited Mayor Darrell Steinberg for backing up campaign calls to embrace the arts and make the city more attractive to young people. Among other initiatives, Steinberg has also launched a grant program offering $500,000 for art installations and performances.

The event raised over $5,500 in an online campaign by Saturday afternoon. Jackson said it brought together a community of people who would have otherwise scattered to house parties and even less-regulated venues.

“That’s the important part of keeping these places alive,” she said.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna