In the beginning, Donnybrook Manor was just an imaginary place jokingly referred to by the members of the Donnybrook Writing Academy. But then on a trip through France, Donnybrook founder Erin Barnes (aka Angora Holly Polo) took inspiration from a tiny, cramped apartment over a Paris bookstore that housed young writers-in-residence and asked, "Why not here, only for musicians?" and thus, Donnybrook Manor, the hostel for road-weary, broke-ass bands was born -- in concept anyway. Now Barnes and her Donnybrook partner/life partner Cliff Thompson are working to make it a reality.
"You know how tough it is for touring musicians to find a place to stay -- how sometimes they ask from the stage 'anyone have a place for us to crash?,'" Barnes asks. "The idea is to give them a sanctuary from the road, with things they'd miss from home."
The plan is to purchase or lease a warehouse or similar space, renovate it in fine, Donnybrook-elitist style and invite musicians to stay there while touring. And just because the words "warehouse" and "hostel" are being thrown around, don't think it will be anything but fabulous -- this is Donnybrook we're talking about. Barnes has some elaborate plans to make sure it the Manor will live up to the group's elitst standards. "It's preposterous -- it's ironic," she admits. "It's going to be a mansion for straving artists."
Initially, invites will happen on an a referral basis, with prices determined via a sliding scale. The plan is to set it up as an arts nonprofit. The planning is roughly ninety percent complete, Barnes reports. Now the hard part -- finding the funding and working through the mountain of paperwork that becoming a nonprofit entity entails.
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"We have people who want to invest already," Barnes says. "We're just waiting until we can figure out our nonprofit status." The project has also been invited to the Kickstarter.com community and is looking at grants and other sources of funding to fill in any gaps. Once that's in place and a location is found, the Manor could open within six months.
It's not just a place for musicians to crash, either. Once the project is up and running, the plan is to incorporate live recording sessions a la Daytrotter, humorous video interviews ("Donnybrook Tea Parties," Barnes calls them), partnerships with local restaurants for discounted meals for traveling musicians, partnerships with venues, afterhours DJ or acoustic sets and more. Long term, Barnes hopes to inspire similar projects across the world, creating a network of hostels for traveling musicians. And naturally, she sees a place for Donnybrook in history.
"It could become a historical place -- once the bands that stayed there get famous, fans would want to come and stay where they stayed and pay lots of money!" she says. "We would of course get autographs from everyone staying with us."