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The Hideout Will Close Until 2023 After Ex-Employee Says Venue Was A Toxic Workplace, Performers Cancel Shows

The Hideout will go on hiatus starting next week. Owners hope to reopen in 2023 "with new leadership, and a commitment to a healthy, supportive and respectful organizational culture."

The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave.
Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago
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BUCKTOWN — The Hideout is closing for at least the rest of the year after allegations of a toxic workplace, tokenism and other problems levied by a former employee led to numerous shows and events being cancelled at the Bucktown music venue.

The Hideout will close Nov. 7, the owners said in a statement Monday.

Local rapper Mykele Deville wrote a lengthy social media post earlier this month detailing his time working as program director at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave. During his eight months on the job, Deville said he was spit on by a customer, berated by a resident artist, asked to take on extra work duties and experienced a tense work environment, among other issues.

In response to the viral post, numerous artists and musicians have canceled performances at the venue.

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Ex-Hideout Employee Says Bucktown Venue Was A Toxic Workplace, Leading To Performers Canceling Shows

Owners Tim and Katie Tuten, and Mike and Jim Hinchsliff said in their statement they take Deville’s concerns seriously and “acknowledge the deep pain Mykele and others are feeling.” To that end, they plan to have a human resources firm do “an equity audit” of its business practices and policies, with an eye toward reopening in 2023.

“We won’t devalue this process by pretending it can be done perfectly, simply or quickly. We understand it will take time to build trust, to foster open communication, to develop a meaningful plan for change and then to implement it. With patience and guidance from the community, we hope to get there,” the statement reads.

“In the last two weeks, a large number of our upcoming bookings have been canceled. With a heavy heart, as of November 7, 2022 the Hideout is taking a hiatus to navigate this situation. As part of the process, we will explore options to provide support to our employees. It is our sincere hope that we will be able to reopen in 2023, with new leadership, and a commitment to a healthy, supportive and respectful organizational culture.”

The statement did not specify what “new leadership” at the venue would mean. Hideout owners declined to be interviewed through a spokesperson about the decision to close.

Read the full statement below.

Deville was hired in summer 2021 as The Hideout’s program director, in charge of booking shows and curating its entertainment lineup, he said in his Oct. 19 post.

At the time, Deville was “ecstatic” about the job, but he felt pressure for being what he believed was “the first and only Black program director they ever hired,” Deville wrote.

Deville cited multiple incidents where he felt unsupported by Hideout leadership, leading to an “incessant sense of dread” before work and anxiety throughout the day, he wrote.

When a customer spit on Deville for enforcing mask guidelines, “leadership did nothing to support me,” he wrote. The same went for when an unnamed “long-time, white resident artist cursed and berated me in front of staff,” he wrote.

Hideout leaders also were slow to act when the venue was vandalized with white supremacist graffiti in October 2021, a few months after he started his job, he wrote. Deville also said Hideout owner Katie Tuten “reprimanded” an employee for adding the phrase “Black Lives Matter” to a public statement about the incident.

In his post, Deville also said he believes he was only hired to give The Hideout “the appearance of being anti-racist” in the wake of 2020’s nationwide racial justice movements.

“I realized that Hideout never had any intention to set me up to succeed, but only wanted to trade on my racial identity, and the trust and respect I’d built within the arts communities of Chicago,” Deville wrote. “I now understand that once they realized hiring me meant actually evolving as a company, they just disposed of me and went right back to their old, comfortable systems.”

Hideout’s owners did not respond to Deville’s specific claims. In a statement last week, they said they had a different perspective on the concerns he raised but were “working to better understand and respond to what took place during his time at the Hideout.”

Deville was fired in the spring after the owners cited a “disparaging remark” he made about The Hideout and his work performance, he wrote. He said Hideout management offered him a small severance package on the condition he sign a non-disclosure agreement, which he refused.

Deville declined to speak to Block Club last week and declined to comment again Monday.

Following Deville’s post, several musicians cancelled upcoming performances at The Hideout, including singer-songwriter Liam Kazar, country singer Tommy Goodroad, indie pop artist Liska and sound artist Kikù Hibino.

In their statement Monday, Hideout owners wrote they take Deville’s concerns “very seriously.”

“We have met with our staff, and we are ready to put in the hard work, and hear the difficult truths that such change requires. We are committed to taking action as we work with a human resources organization with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. The first step will be an equity audit of our policies and practices,” the statement reads.

The venue did not give a timeline for when they could reopen in 2023.

“As the next steps become clearer, we will keep the public informed,” the statement reads. “Until then, we thank our patrons, performers, past and current staff for all that you have done to make the Hideout the cultural home that it has been to so many of us.”

The Hideout’s full statement:

For 26 years, the Hideout has worked to build a creative community that is vibrant, nurturing, diverse, and is reflective of the city’s complicated, beautiful artistic and cultural scene. In that time, we’ve weathered many storms.

The latest situation, however, appears to be one we cannot weather in our current form. We take the concerns voiced by Mykele Deville and others in the community very seriously. We acknowledge the deep pain Mykele and others are feeling. We have met with our staff, and we are ready to put in the hard work, and hear the difficult truths that such change requires. We are committed to taking action as we work with a human resources organization with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. The first step will be an equity audit of our policies and practices.  

We won’t devalue this process by pretending it can be done perfectly, simply or quickly. We understand it will take time to build trust, to foster open communication, to develop a meaningful plan for change and then to implement it. With patience and guidance from the community, we hope to get there. 

In the last two weeks, a large number of our upcoming bookings have been canceled. With a heavy heart, as of November 7, 2022 the Hideout is taking a hiatus to navigate this situation. As part of the process, we will explore options to provide support to our employees. It is our sincere hope that we will be able to reopen in 2023, with new leadership, and a commitment to a healthy, supportive and respectful organizational culture. 

As the next steps become clearer, we will keep the public informed. Until then, we thank our patrons, performers, past and current staff for all that you have done to make the Hideout the cultural home that it has been to so many of us.

Tim and Katie Tuten; Mike and Jim Hinchsliff. Owners of The Hideout

Editor’s note: Block Club Chicago held an event at The Hideout in 2018. A Block Club editor hosted a long-running show at The Hideout, The Girl Talk, from 2016-2020. Block Club reporters have moderated panels at The Hideout.

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