Entrepreneurs encouraging events, art, and community in their spaces

When you hear the term “event space” what do you think of? Do you think of a banquet hall? Or a room meant for presentations and networking opportunities? Do you think of a place to perform your talents whether musical, comedic, or theatrical?
Recently, three innovative and creative event spaces have popped up in our community, meeting the expectations and needs of the unique kinds of events that Lansingites hope to see more of. The creators of Urban Beat, The Robin Theatre, AA Creative Corridor, and Think Space have done their research, looking to cater to the area event spaces that will assist and support event planners and organizations in Greater Lansing.
For CJ Davis and Terry Terry, part of the team behind Urban Beat, “event space” is the same as “blank space.” It’s the ability to see a room and create it to reflect your style, your event, and your organization. Urban Beat, located in Old Town, is just that, a blank space. Taking inspiration from some of Chicago’s innovative event spaces, Urban Beat has character but also has the ability to be transformed to suit the needs of the event planner.
The  creators behind Urban Beat believe that the space is, “a blank canvas on which you can create timeless memories. From weddings to concerts to specialty dinners and more we are Lansing’s premier customizable event space.”
“[I have] lived in Old Town for a long time,” says Terry in an interview, “[and have been] very active in the town and [its] revitalization.” He states that he noticed the revitalization seemed to have plateaued and that Old Town needed more of a nightlife – meaning more restaurants and bars. Davis agrees, saying that Old Town, “needs more. We wanted a place for a bar with tables and fine dining with shows.”
So, Terry acquired the building on Old Town's bustling Turner Street and decided to operate his personal business upstairs, while brainstorming for a way to utilize the downstairs. This in turn ended with the building being stripped and a base renovation being done, keeping in mind that they wanted the most space possible.
Going even further, Davis says, “Event centers tend to be tied to one caterer. We have the ability to bring in different kinds of cuisine.” So in addition to the “blank slate” style building, the possibilities for catering are endless, making this space unique and flexible for both the event itself and the food being served.
Driven by the same kind of passion for creating a space that Lansing didn’t already have, Dylan Rogers, co-owner of The Robin Theatre said that his dream for an event space stemmed from his background in performing. “I loved interacting with my audience, being close to them and reacting to their energy,” says Rogers, when talking about the idea behind The Robin Theatre.
As Rogers and co-owner Jeana-Dee Allen performed and participated with others in varied spaces within the community, they found they were involved in different creative activities but needed a bigger space to perform and collaborate. They took a leap of faith and decided to purchase the building in REO Town that is now The Robin Theatre and spent over a year renovating the space to make it what it is today. Rogers and Allen are able to live upstairs while running a business downstairs.
The Robin Theatre has become home to many shows, from Comedy Coven nights to storytelling shows. “It’s the dream. It’s not without its challenges, but it’s the dream,” says Rogers when asked about his entrepreneurial endeavors. “We both have day jobs, and have, at times, held more than one job,” says Rogers, “[That’s] part of being an entrepreneur, diversifying your income.”
Rogers, Davis, and Terry all agree that Lansing is the perfect place to start a business because of its endless possibilities for growth.
Similarly, Ariniko O'Meara took over what was the Art Alley and turned it into the AA Creative Corridor – also on the same block as The Robin Theatre in REO Town. With her vision, the space not only hosts Swing and Salsa dancing nights consistently, but there's always local art hanging on the walls. O'Meara caIls AA Creative Corridor a rentable creative space she often rents out to creatives who either need it for events, but who also may need studio space to do their work. "Things have been consistent here. We've consistently been available for the community to host parties, events, art, and community activities."
Think Space brought to Lansing a “unique business meeting and facilitation center” for the benefit of businesses in the Lansing area. According to their website, Think Space was designed to help energize meetings to therefore improve results. The space is engaging, exciting, and meant to help the creative process.
The building that houses Think Space itself started as a service garage in 1919. Purchased in 1984, the current owner dreamed of creating a productive meeting space, while preserving the historic nature of the original building. And that’s exactly what they did.
In 2015, Think Space was built in a portion of the building. “The result is one of Michigan’s most remarkable meeting site that links tradition with a modern facility in a scenic location.” Think Space provides you with an assistant to help during your meeting, internet and Wi-Fi, light snacks, coffee, water, and sodas, remote clickers, conference phones, large TV’s for presentations and so much more.
So if you're looking for some unique, fun, and interesting spaces to host events in our community, you've got options.


Caitlin Munch is a freelance writer for Capital Gains.
Photos © Dave Trumpie
Dave Trumpie is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.
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