Independent Venue World Cafe Live Merges with Nonprofit LiveConnections

New social enterprise dedicated to live music performances, education, and engagement


World Cafe Live (WCL) has announced a bold transition from a for-profit venue to a nonprofit entity devoted to supporting live music, music education and community engagement in Philadelphia. The well-established independent venue is combining with its nonprofit partner LiveConnections to launch a new chapter that will further empower World Cafe Live both to achieve its goal of providing accessible live music for all and to offer an even more dynamic depth and breadth of programming.


The two entities will move forward under the World Cafe Live name. 100% of revenues (including funds from grants and donations, as well as proceeds from sale of tickets, food and drink, and special events) will support expanding their mission of socially engaged music education and original programming.


“This transition is the natural evolution for these two essential players in the Philadelphia music scene,” says World Cafe Live Founder and President Hal Real, who also co-founded LiveConnections. “By making World Cafe Live a nonprofit, we’ll be able to invest even more in bringing great, diverse live music to the city, and in creating community-engaged programming that ensures that youth, people with disabilities, and all kinds of music-lovers have access to incredible music.”


World Cafe Live has operated as a for-profit live music venue and restaurant for over 15 years, and as a nonprofit will continue to offer world-class concerts, a full-service restaurant and bar, and unparalleled special events. They will continue to partner on strategic artist development and audience-building initiatives with WXPN, the public radio station that shares the building and licenses the World Cafe® name to the venue.  Real anticipates the new structure will provide creative opportunities for even deeper connectivity.


World Cafe Live is known for bringing emerging and established local, national, and international talent to its two stages.  The venue has showcased artists such as Adele, Brandi Carlile, Alabama Shakes, Kamasi Washington, and 5-time 2020 Grammy winner Billie Eilish, among many others, and this spring, they will host Philadelphia favorites Leslie Odom, Jr. (star of Hamilton) on Tuesday, March 31 and indie rock staple Kurt Vile on Monday and Tuesday, April 20 and 21. Going forward, World Cafe Live will place even more focus on free events that provide a platform for local talent, like its established Philly Rising Open Mic nights, the Beta Hifi Emerging Music Festival and the recently created Jazz Jam with Omar’s Hat.


Real and his team believe now more than ever in the importance of sustaining independent venues in the Philadelphia music scene and beyond. They plan to provide leadership in establishing a community of independent music venues in a live music industry that is dominated by a few international corporations.  This initiative will start locally with plans to expand nationally, as the need to nurture independent voices in the global music system is becoming more urgent.


LiveConnections was founded as a nonprofit in 2008 to bolster music education opportunities in Philadelphia public schools. Since then they have reached 50,000 participants, including students from public schools, as well as youth and adults with disabilities from human service organizations. By joining with World Cafe Live, the combined organization will be able to expand on the heralded educational work that has been the hallmark of LiveConnections. In 2019-2020, World Cafe Live will present 36 Bridge Sessions, their interactive educational performances that connect diverse musical styles and cultures. In addition to their roster of signature topics such as “World of Percussion” and “Jazz Speaks,” they are developing new sessions, including: “Immigrant Grooves,” featuring members of the ensemble People of Earth highlighting their own experiences of migration.


World Cafe Live will continue the long-term music-making partnerships of LiveConnections, including a year-long album-recording project with Philadelphia public high school Hill-Freedman World Academy, a collaboration with HIAS PA focusing on immigrant youth, and an afterschool percussion ensemble at Bregy School in South Philadelphia. In March, the organization will launch the Philadelphia Lullaby Project, a local partnership with Carnegie Hall’s international program in which teaching artists collaborate with new parents to write original lullabies for their babies.


“Music is a vital part of our city,” Real stated, “and World Cafe Live is committed to the importance of investing in independent music made by and for all Philadelphians.”



ABOUT WORLD CAFE LIVE: World Cafe Live is an independent music, restaurant and events venue located at 3025 Walnut Street in the University City District of Philadelphia, PA.  Set in a 1917 former Art Deco factory building that was completely renovated from the ground up to optimize the live performance experience both for artists and audiences, the venue has been offering the best local, national and international artists on two stages to its loyal fans since 2004.  In addition to  presenting over 400 ticketed and 200 free shows annually, World Cafe Live offers great food and beverages daily, and hosts and caters over 200 special events a year.  Its unique partnership with public radio station WXPN, with whom it shares the building and from whom it licenses the World Cafe® name, has established a nationally recognized innovative model for bringing new music to people and new people to music. Learn more /   @worldcafelive


ABOUT LIVECONNECTIONS: LiveConnections was founded in 2008 to bolster music education opportunities for public schools. We believe live music is an essential part of the human experience: it fosters joy and is one of the most powerful ways to build bridges between people. LiveConnections has reached 50,000 participants through socially engaged music-making, focusing on Philadelphia public school students as well as youth and adults with disabilities. Our signature educational performances, Bridge Sessions, showcase diverse musical styles and cultures through hands-on activities. Our in-depth residencies and camps provide opportunities for participants to write, record and perform their own songs. LiveConnections is based out of independent venue World Cafe Live. Learn more at /   @liveconnections

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