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We’re Open: Live music returns to Pyramid Scheme

Posted at 10:33 AM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 10:33:10-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — “It's been a long, tumultuous 16 months,” she says as she recalls shutting down Pyramid Scheme, one of West Michigan’s iconic entertainment venues, which she co-owns. “We have been fighting for survival, to be honest. It's been. It's been really, really scary. Terrifying.”

The pandemic has caused the permanent loss across the country of more than a few venues like Pyramid Scheme. But, says VandenBerg, “Here we are, we're selling tickets again.”

To get from the initial shutdown (“March 13 was our last show, Friday the 13th, 2020. I'll never ever forget that date in my life.”), VandenBerg and her brother frantically tried anything. " Thank you,” she says, “to every single person who rented a (pinball) machine, bought shirts, donated to our staff fund. You helped us make it through.”

We're Open: People are ready for live music at Pyramid Scheme

And there was more behind the scenes, including “frantically begging for money, right from every possible government entity, federal state, county, city, we left no stone unturned for funds.”

While they got help, they are still waiting funds from the federal Shuttered Venue Operator Grant program, which has been approved but not released. That’s money that will be used to bring back the music: “It takes a lot of money to book a lot of events. So, you have your deposits, and you have to get all of your staff, and you have to get all of your inventory."

If anyone missed the performances at the Scheme, it’s possible nobody missed them more than VandenBerg. “I knew music brought a lot to my life; I had no idea how much I would miss it. And it I missed it terribly.”

Now she gladly faces the challenges of reopening: finding staff to replace those who moved on, lining up shows, returning calls. “It's been really difficult and exciting.”

Pyramid Scheme, 68 Commerce Avenue, Grand Rapids (No phone; use email)
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