The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., in West Town on Nov. 23, 2022. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

BUCKTOWN — A group of musicians, patrons and neighbors started an online fundraiser to support staff at the Hideout while it remains closed for the rest of the year.

The Bucktown bar and venue, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave, temporarily closed this month after former program director Mykele Deville made a series of allegations of a toxic workplace, tokenism and other issues at the business.

Deville’s social media posts detailing the allegations led to numerous bands and artists cancelling upcoming shows.

Amid the fallout, Hideout owners Tim and Katie Tuten and Mike and Jim Hinchsliff announced the venue would close temporarily, with the hopes of reopening in 2023.

“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,” an Oct. 31 statement from the owners read. “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 and Deville have declined requests for additional comment.

The GoFundMe supporting out-of-work staff members can be accessed here. It’s raised more than $5,000 of a $20,000 goal as of Wednesday morning.

Musician Angela James, one of the organizers, wrote in an email that the group behind the fundraiser “includes artists, former staff, patrons and other community members that care deeply about the Hideout and the harm that has occurred there. We have been and are in conversation with representatives of current staff on how the group and wider community can support them through this uncertain and overwhelming time.”

All funds will go directly to current Hideout staff while the venue is closed, James said. The owners are not involved in the fundraiser.

The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave. Credit: Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago

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 an Oct. 19 social media 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.

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.

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.”

Deville was fired in the spring after the owners cited a “disparaging remark” he made about The Hideout and his work performance, he wrote. Hideout owners have not responded to Deville’s specific claims. 

In an email, James wrote she was inspired to help launch the staff fundraiser because the Hideout has been a “creative home” for her over the past decade, and that she cares deeply about the venue and surrounding community.

“I believe that harm was done there and I want to believe that if any community can organize amongst ourselves — workers, patrons, artists and anyone else who feels connected to the Hideout — to work together to meaningfully address harm, it’s the creative community that the Hideout has fostered,” James wrote.

Organizers hope to distribute funds to staff by mid-December in time for the holidays, James said. The group decided a GoFundMe was the best way to publicize the campaign after speaking with current employees, James said.

The Hideout has one show listed for Jan. 20 on its website, but owners have not made any officials announcements about a possible reopening.

James said that uncertainty is why the GoFundMe is so important for the venue’s staff.

“It’s unclear exactly when the Hideout will reopen and resume programming. Even if that does happen in January, it will take time for staff to receive regular paychecks again and feel secure in their employment,” James wrote.