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The Return of The Living Room

Story by Edna Richardson

We last checked in with Ben Redding in early October of 2023 before the opening of The Living Room, his thirteen night series of events and interactive art installation hosted inside of King Art Gallery on Howard Avenue. The Living Room provided a uniquely intimate experience for audience members and performers alike, forming an inevitable connection between the two. Between film screenings, poetry readings, musical performances, dj sets, book clubs, and much more, there was something for everyone. We met Redding at the old Nonic building on Broadway where The Living Room has officially found its new home.

Ben Redding as photographed by Cirrus Gold Creative Company.

Q: How did you feel after the first run of the living room?

A: That last day, the closing, was when it hit me. The response was overwhelming, and I felt great about it. I learned a lot about my boundaries and needs as a creator. So many people are encouraging me, so I felt like I should keep going immediately.

Q: Can’t believe you're back in action already!

A: I probably should have rested a little bit but the timing was perfect, so you have to just jump on it. That's why it's a little bit hectic right now. We're very much flying by the seat of our pants, which is fun.

I'm getting Instagram messages from people asking to come, perform, and I'm working on our website to process it all. The goal is to go nonprofit, and that's another reason why we're in this in-between phase. It'll change everything, but I think it'll happen fairly quickly. Right now, it feels like limbo.

Q: Are you planning to keep the same kind of back-to-back schedule?

A: We’ll have a full schedule eventually, but for now, I'm managing longevity and excitement. 

As time goes by, people will start coming up with their own programming. For example, we're doing "show and tell" this week, curated with guest speakers. I'm shifting the focus away from it being primarily a performance space to a place to appreciate different crafts, like the craft of storytelling or accounting. If it can be curated and interesting we want to showcase it!

Q: What's your desire for this space?

A: I hope people keep coming. I hope artists understand the format and take advantage of it.

This room has constraints, but I’ve found they can help challenge and support the work. The disconnect between the audience and you doesn't exist here, which is a bigger responsibility. There's this familial type thing that happens, and it's very sweet.

We're rolling out a new format with bigger breaks between acts for socializing and discussion, embracing the communal aspect. I love the communal aspect of it.

Q: Are you proud of what you’ve accomplished?

A: Very much so. It's surreal. I didn't think it could happen. I want to build something very special and unique, not just another event space. It’s more.

A recent night at The Living Room featuring Frank Schley of Silvan Guitars. Photo by Garrett Lee.

Having visited The Living Room recently for Show & Tell, we can say with a certainty that this new iteration of it will be just as fun as the original. If you missed the opportunity to visit The Living Room last year, worry not. You’ll be able to experience it yourself every Thursday night in the old Nonic building till further notice. Hope to see you there!

If You Go:

Every Thursday night.

1239 Broadway


Instagram: @TheLivingRoom_OnBroadway 


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