Help Save One Longfellow Square

Help Save One Longfellow Square

Thanks to your generous donations we’ve reached a milestone.  Now we are asking for a little more help.

One Longfellow Square is deeply grateful to music lovers from far and wide who have responded to our fundraising campaign with overwhelming kindness and generosity.  We humbly say: thank you!

Having met our original $100,000 goal, we know that we can maintain our venue through next summer, paying rent, utilities, insurance and internet support services.  We are now increasing our goal to $175,000 in the hopes of holding on to our incredible staff who will look for alternative ways to safely bring music to the public in the coming months and prepare to resume shows in the venue when that becomes possible.

We are announcing a challenge match! A friend of OLS will double your gift by matching all new donations up to $20,000 – which will help us raise a total of $40,000 towards our new goal.

Thank you again for believing in One Longfellow Square. We couldn’t picture Portland without OLS, and we’re honored that you all agree. We encourage you to share our story with your friends and family and help keep the music alive.


In Portland’s vibrant music and arts scene One Longfellow Square stands out as a music venue sought after by musicians from around the world to play for people who come to listen. Our small, 185 seat venue brings the audience close to the stage, creating an intimate performing and listening experience. From Tom Rush to Anais Mitchell, from Ray LaMontagne to Slaid Cleaves, from The Bad Plus to the Portland Jazz Orchestra, OLS is home to some of Portland’s most cherished musical memories.

In the ecosystem of music venues, OLS plays an important role. OLS is on the busy northeast touring circuit. Our stage hosts touring artists that could fill much bigger rooms, but they keep coming back. At the same time, this is a stage that is accessible to the local music scene – we’ll host a high school rock band’s first gig on a Thursday and then host John Scofield on a Friday. OLS is important financially for musicians. We pay artists an average of 70% of all ticket sales. In addition, OLS is an economic engine for the neighborhood. Our audience eats at local restaurants and catches post-show drinks at the local bars.

In the best of times, the music industry has a hard time making ends meet. OLS began in 2007 as a for-profit business and became a non-profit organization in 2011, shifting focus to serving a listening room with members’ gifts filling the gap between show revenue and costs. To be a viable business, OLS needs to sell, on average, more than 100 tickets per show and to sell out numerous shows during the year.

However, the very feature that makes OLS special – its small size and intimate space – will also make it hard to get back to business as usual in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s difficult to imagine when it will feel comfortable sitting shoulder to shoulder with fellow music lovers in our small venue.

And once we are able to open, we face fierce (but necessary) capacity restrictions to stay in line with pandemic guidelines. Currently, all gatherings in Maine are limited to 50 people or less. When accounting for proper social distancing, we can fit only 30 chairs in our space. With the current square footage restrictions, we are only allowed to have 5 people in the venue. Until we can fully reopen with no limits on our audience size, the numbers simply don’t work.

We are doing our best to stay alive for the duration. A Payroll Protection Program loan/grant has kept staff on board bringing you live streams and strategizing for the future, but fails to provide any long term security. OLS staff hours will soon be cut drastically. We have lowered every expense we can. Utilities, insurance, and rent add up to $7,000 monthly. And despite having our best fiscal year to date the year prior, these cost saving measures will only keep OLS afloat until Labor Day.

With much humility and gratefulness, we are launching this GoFundMe campaign as a last resort effort to save the venue. If we are able to make our aspirational goal of $100,000, we estimate we can make it until mid 2021, when we hope we can resume business as usual.

In a time when there are so many worthy and important causes that need support, please consider making a generous donation to One Longfellow Square, one of Portland’s institutions that make Maine ‘the way life should be’.

– A donation of $20 helps us recoup one of our many lost ticket sales;

– A donation of $100 contributes towards our lost memberships and bar sales;

– A donation of $250 is the equivalent of an average show’s staff overhead;

– A donation of $1,000 pays for the average venue earnings on a sold out show;

– A donation of $5,000 covers nearly one month of our rent.

Many thanks to our very talented staff, our hard-working board members, our dedicated volunteers, the thousands of musicians who play on our stage, our generous members and to all of you who love live music. Please, donate and share our story to help us survive the pandemic. We hope to see you all at a show again in the not too distant future.

Please share your favorite OLS memory when you donate!

– The Staff & Board of One Longfellow Square

NOTE: The OLS Board & Staff will take a hard look at organization finances in the fall. If OLS has been unable to raise sufficient funds from this campaign and other philanthropic, state or federal sources, we will consider closing our doors and refunding your gifts.

OLS is a non-profit 501(c)(3); gifts to this campaign are tax deductible.

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