Provo Velor concert hall celebrates 15 years as COVID-19 threatens its future
PROVO – January 2020 marked the 14th anniversary of Velor Live Music Gallery, a beloved music venue in Provo.
At the time, owner Corey Fox joked that there was nothing special to do about age 14; this is not a significant achievement. So, he promised that the celebration for 15 years would be huge.
He was unaware that in just two months, the place is expected to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In January 2021, instead of celebrating the 15-year milestone, Fox sat alone in his office to reflect on the growing financial pressure the place faces.
“How to celebrate these 15 years without being able to put on shows?” he wondered aloud.
Velor was able to stay afloat thanks to COVID-19 relief grants and loans, as well as private rentals and some fan donations.
“It was our only income from any type of event, and then we relied heavily on government grants and aid loans,” Fox said.
It’s a miracle they were able to survive an entire year without concerts, the owner said, but he’s not sure how long that can last.
“I’m going to be blunt and say there isn’t enough money in the account right now to pay off next month’s mortgage,” he said.
Four years ago, Fox had a kidney transplant and the community came together to support him and the place. Now he and others are hoping the community will support him and the place once again and help them through difficult times.
Surviving a pandemic
Velor is an alcohol-free venue for all ages and has supported growing local groups over the years including Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, and The Aces.
“We have an amazing music community here,” Fox said.
For any concert hall, spending 15 years is an impressive achievement, according to Kaneischa Johnson, who worked in the hall for around 10 years.
“It’s really unusual, I think, for a music venue to last 15 years, let alone a venue for all ages that only subsists on door covers and doesn’t raise money from sales of music. ‘alcohol,’ she said.
The pandemic has hit many businesses hard, with attention turning to restaurants adjusting to COVID-19 restrictions. However, most restaurants were able to stay at least partially open with drive-thru or curbside pickup, an option not available for a concert venue.
“You can’t really do that with a venue. So yeah, we’ve been pretty much closed for a year,” Fox said.
Due to Fox’s medical condition, it’s also not worth the risk of opening or trying to prematurely stage concerts that could end up being big-screen events.
“That was another twist on it,” Fox said. “I’m immunocompromised myself. So even during that time, you know, maybe some of the Salt Lake (venues) dabbled in these little shows and things like that, we hesitated.”
Fox admits his business needs help, but struggles with the idea that people want to give money away for nothing.
“Velor, itself, hasn’t really made public any form of donation assistance, but others have in the community,” he said.
During the pandemic, a few GoFundMe were set up on behalf of Velor, and others asked for donations to the site to keep it operational.
“I think the only saving grace for so many spaces that have been able to hold up in one way or another is for the community to step in, you know, whether it’s contributing funds, people or bandwidth, ”Johnson said.
The Fox Hall is available for hire for small private events, where it’s easier to manage social distancing and keep groups separate, unlike a large, crowded concert.
“It would all be huge,” he said. “I would rather somebody put the money in there to get space for something and that it helps and helps us.”
However, those still looking to donate can do so by sending funds to the official Venmo, @ VelourLive. * And the fact that people have offered to donate just to support the place they love humiliates Fox.
“I’m emotional about it too, like that’s the only way I can accept it is that Velor is way bigger than me,” Fox said.
To look forward
However, things won’t be perfect once it’s safe to host concerts again. At first, it is likely that only small shows at half capacity would be allowed, in which case the venue could lose money.
“We’re going to have to get a little creative here for the first year or so if we’re going to get through this,” Fox said. “We won’t be able to rely solely on smaller shows.”
Not to mention that many local groups are no longer in the area because of the pandemic.
“Some of them went home, instead of staying in college for now, or some of them were like, ‘Oh, I’m going to temporarily move to another state’ because he didn’t ‘there are no shows.’ There is no reason to keep the group active when they cannot play, ”he explained. “We rely a lot on these big groups that bring in crowds and I don’t know if they’re going to exist.”
Even though the threat of closing Velor’s doors hangs over him, Fox remains optimistic.
“I feel good when it seems like we’re sort of at this breaking point, another little miracle happens that pushes us through another month, sometimes it lasts another week,” he said.
* KSL.com does not guarantee that the money deposited into the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons designated as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the Account, you should consult your own advisers and do so at your own risk.