One day during the pandemic’s height, Ashleigh Rogers and Stephanie McCarl noticed something troubling. “We were watching all of these organizations that improved our community being forced to close their doors,” Rogers recounts. But that despair led to a revelation. “Maybe we could offer an alternative solution for organizations who are thinking, ‘We might have to stop doing this because we don’t have a home — we don’t have a space.’”
Thanks to the effort of Rogers, McCarl, and several community partners, such a space now exists. Aptly named The Space, this 2,600-square-foot slice of Richland’s Uptown Shopping Center is a performance and event venue like no other in the Tri-Cities. Since opening in September 2021, it has hosted events of every kind. “Our intention for The Space was for the community to make it their home,” Rogers explains. “We want to see it being used for baby showers, birthday parties, board meetings, fundraisers, performances, art shows, community gatherings, rehearsals, dances, or any other gathering, event, or use there is a need for.”
Rogers and McCarl are ideally suited in their roles as co-owners of The Space. Rogers is an artist and the Creative Director of DrewBoy Creative, an organization that develops and promotes the Tri-Cities art community. McCarl founded Lotus of the Moon, a spiritual shop located in the Uptown. She also runs the Lotus of the Moon Foundation, one of The Space’s founding member organizations, offering donation-based yoga and mindfulness activities.
More than anything else, they wanted The Space accessible to everyone in the community to use as needed. “We know how difficult it is to keep a brick-and-mortar [building] afloat on your own,” Rogers says, “We wanted to build a shared space for community organizations and individuals who have gifts and things that they want to share so that they aren’t having to struggle to find a permanent location. Once we made that decision, we started reaching out to organizations that we thought might be interested in sharing the space with us. Right now, we have three founding organizations who made a commitment to help build The Space before it really looked like anything.”
One founding member is The Rude Mechanicals, Eastern Washington’s premier Shakespeare company, which uses the venue for auditions, performances, and rehearsals. The other founding member is Tabby Carlson of The Doghouse Training, who uses The Space for lessons. “We [also] have organizations who are not necessarily founding members but are kind of like partners,” Rogers says. “We have a partner named Nancy who does vendor fairs at The Space approximately once or twice every month. And then DrewBoy Creative — once every few months, we’re doing a show [here].”
“Founding members always fill out the calendar first,” Rogers explains. “Aside from that, The Space is open for any kind of rental in between those spaces. We open up the calendar to the public three months in advance.” If someone wants to book an event further out, that’s also an option and arrangements can be made over email.
The rental rate is $88 per hour for individuals or businesses but drops to $55 if the event is community-focused or hosted by a nonprofit. Although guests generally need to reserve (and pay for) set-up and clean-up time, the venue is willing to make exceptions. “We’re not going to charge DrewBoy for installation or uninstalling the art because that’s hours and hours and hours of time,” Rogers says. “All of a sudden, that space would become inaccessible to any sort of art gallery. That’s the kind of partnership that we try to forge with our community partners —figuring out, ‘How can we make this more accessible for your organization to use?’”
Financial and physical accessibility were key goals in The Space’s development. Rogers and McCarl installed a wheelchair lift, which grants access to The Space’s upper gallery area. Other improvements were made as well. “We had a contractor who donated his time to help us tear the bathroom down and re-frame it so that the bathroom would actually be ADA [compliant],” Rogers says.
Another goal was sustainability. “We want to have enough rentals coming in where The Space is taking care of itself so that we can continue to offer it at these rates,” Rogers explains. “Right now, we’re on our way to that, and that’s in part thanks to the founders, who have made a regular commitment to The Space and to organizations and individuals who rent from us regularly.”
The venue comprises a 1,900 square-foot open area — a “blank canvas,” as Rogers describes it, which can accommodate up to 250 guests. The upper area has a smaller open area, along with a catering kitchen and two bathrooms. The kitchen features a full-size refrigerator, microwave, and sink. An elegant pass-through bar counter is ideal for serving food and drinks. One bathroom is ADA compliant, and the other has a utility sink. Guests may also use The Space’s folding tables, chairs, Wi-Fi, and P.A. system. Visit their website for a complete list of amenities.
1384 Jadwin Ave., Richland.