Swallow Hill Music Lays Off Most of its Staff to Avoid Permanent Closure

For more than 40 years, Swallow Hill Music has offered concerts, group classes and private instructions to the Denver music community, but the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is so strong that it’s on the brink of collapse. In order to keep the Swallow Hill Music nonprofit afloat in the midst of the storm of coronavirus-related closures and economic conservatism, it had to cast many of its most valuable members off on their own. On March 23, the organization laid off all of its teachers, hourly workers and a third of its administrative staff. The small number of staff members left are taking a deep reduction in pay for the time being.

The CEO of Swallow Hill Music, Paul Lhevine, released a letter explaining the decision and how tough it was to make this call:

“Our decisions have hit our teachers the hardest and have been the most heartbreaking for us. Our business model is such that, while we are no longer able to pay our teachers during this time that they aren’t working at Swallow Hill, we will be in a position to begin to pay them as soon as they return to work.

We will be reaching out to our members and donor community to help be a part of supporting our organization more broadly, that we, in turn, can stay strong in the future – We need a home for our artists and teachers to come back to.”

You can read the rest of his letter here.

Though the organization laid off its teachers, it’s making an effort to support them as they embark on their own independent careers while the venue’s doors are closed. A list of teachers’ contact information — and information on how to support them — is now up on Swallow Hill Music’s website.

Though all concert venues are currently shuttered, the threat of permanent closure is especially real for independent venues like Swallow Hill Music, Cervantes, and the Hi-Dive, who can’t draw on funds from parent companies.

Musicians are also directly impacted by these concert shutdowns. If you’re an artist or music industry employee who’s been affected by recent layoffs and cancellations, check out our guide of what to do next, and consider submitting to this livestream network or the 303 Cover Challenge.