You don’t have to get sloppy to have a good time.
That’s the premise of a new organization called Sounds that aims to offer the public a late-night, alcohol-free venue that combines live music with people who want to have a safe and enjoyable night out.
When founder Misha Cleveland lived downtown after she finished graduate school at Penn State in 2009, it became clear to her that something was missing.
“There were not a lot of alternatives downtown for going out and seeing bands without things getting out of control,” Cleveland said.
On Saturday night, Cleveland is hosting an inaugural event for Sounds at Webster’s Bookstore Café with live entertainment.
“It’s going to be kind of a test run,” she said. “We’ll see the pros and cons, and see the response and work from there.”
Live entertainment includes August Room, The Good Part, Lord Forrest and The Perkolators. In between acts, guests have the opportunity for open mic and jam sessions.
“We are excited to help out with this event,” said Judson Mantz, singer and guitarist for August Room. “This event for Sounds focuses on original music so I think it was, and is, a good fit.”
The organization was initiated Feb. 1 when a friend told Cleveland to pursue the opportunity to create a nonprofit. The Ferguson Foundation provided Sounds with three years worth of funding, Cleveland said. That was enough money to make the organization a reality, but not yet enough money to get the right space for the club, Cleveland added.
Cleveland has applied for nonprofit status.
“Our goal is to get our own space, hold regular events and attract like 400 people,” she said. “This is going to be a community event so we’re always looking for feedback.”
Cleveland said she met with students at State College Area High School and through focus groups tried to create the organization to fit the needs of the public.
The target audience is 14 to 30, but anyone is welcome, Cleveland said.
She has sought guidance from Centre Region leaders such as State College Borough Manager Tom Fountaine; Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania Executive Director Art Heim; Penn State Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims; and borough Police Chief Thomas King.
“I am very supportive. Her concept to create a safe space that provides entertainment and alcohol free options in downtown State College is a very exciting opportunity,” Fountaine said. “Other than Late Night Penn State, there are few options for people in the community who are interested in live music and entertainment in an alcohol free venue.”
Fountaine has worked with Cleveland to identify potential sites for Sounds and said he has provided some advice on the project. He added that he is exploring an opportunity to host Sounds at the municipal building in the future.
“We’re trying to create a space for the community and by the community,” Cleveland said. “When we see a problem, we don’t want to shrug it off, but hope to change it. That’s what Sounds can do.”