Lkld Live, a 6-year-old nonprofit arts organization that gave a platform to musicians and artists that they might not find at commercial venues, is folding at the end of December.

I was a member of Lkld Live’s board from the start, so I’m too close to write objectively about it. For now, I’ll let the statement from the board of directors suffice. The board statement is followed by my favorite of all the videos I shot at Lkld Live performances over the years.

Lkld Live’s home was “Studio B,” a black box space at 202 N. Massachusetts Ave. | David Dickey Jr.

After six years of having the privilege of bringing unique arts and music to Lakeland, it is with very heavy hearts that we have to announce the closing of Lkld Live at the end of this year.

Lkld Live was started as a non-profit to enrich the community through the arts and to also support the artists who create those arts. The organization grew from the vision of Randy Borden, the then-owner of the Lkld TV building at 202 N. Massachusetts Ave.

Lkld Live’s home at Studio B was a unique black box space where young artists could spread their wings and their messages on a great stage and space, allowing the public to discover music, comedy or arts that they may not otherwise have encountered. We hosted some incredible performances from both new artists and well-established performers, ranging from the Lakeland Symphony Orchestra, to the Swan City Improv to The Legendary JC’s, who performed just last week. Lkld Live also became well known for its incredible tribute shows and as a host to the Buena Market events, start- up churches, political events and many others.

The Covid pandemic presented a particularly tough challenge for us, as it did countless live venues throughout the country and the world. Although we were able to secure funds and continue operations while we rebuilt, ultimately losing our leased space became the chief reason for us having to close our doors.

We’d like to thank our past and current executive directors: Shane Lawlor, who was the first director and set us on a great trajectory; Nate Fleming, who took over and endured with us through the shutdown; and finally Kathryne (Kat) Agner, our current director.

Kat’s passion and ability have been a joy to witness, as she threw herself wholly into the job of re-establishing and rebuilding Lkld Live over these past few months, not only demonstrating that our mission could succeed, but also that Lakeland needs more live venues like ours. Kat has talent, and we wish her love and future success in her next chapter.

Thanks to all of you who supported Lkld Live, and understood its impact on the community. We loved seeing you at the events, and will always be thankful for your patronage and passion.

To the current Lkld Live Board of Directors – Randy Borden, Chuck McDanal, Barry Friedman, Natalie Oldenkamp, Dan Signor and former board members, who generously donated your time, enthusiasm and perseverance, THANK YOU!

Lakeland has grown so much in the 26 years since I moved here from Toronto. Our culture is richer and our talents as a community abound. Music and arts play a huge part in this equation, and with that, we ask that you keep supporting the arts in any way you can. Attend events, buy local, and always be thankful for our awesome city!

Lkld Live still has events continuing this month, and we would love to see you! So stay close, stay in touch, and we’ll see you around.

Craig Morby
Board Chair
Lkld Live

This video clip is from a Lkld Live tribute to Tom Petty held on Nov. 9, 2017, a little over a month after Petty’s death. LkldNow was one of two sponsors of the show. The band is playing “American Girl,” with Craig Morby — not yet on the Lkld Live board — singing lead, accompanied by Shane Lawlor, the then-executive director. Other band members: David Brimer, lead guitar, Derrick Dietrich, bass, and Marcus McCants, drums. 

Lkld Live has one more live music event scheduled: Nightrain, a Guns N’ Roses tribute band from Raleigh, N.C., Saturday night at 8 p.m. Tickets: $20.

ALSO: LALtoday takes a nostalgic look at Lkld Live’s events.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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