In the week since a Facebook post announced that Mojos music venue could be shutting its doors, an outpouring of support has come from the community, including teens who call Mojos home.
Mojos put a long post on its Facebook page explaining that the building that houses the all-ages venue may be sold.
“We are reaching out to you and our beloved Mojos Ogden family and friends to help save the music downtown,” the post states. Mojos has served as a safe haven for teens who love music for the past 10 years and is the only all-ages live music venue in Ogden.
“It breaks my heart to see them so worried, concerned and sad,” owner Ron Atencio said as he talked about the outpouring of concern from fans. The night Atencio made the announcement about Mojos, some fans made handmade signs for an impromptu open mic night to help raise money.
“This is their home. They’re desperate,” he said. “The money is helpful, but it’s about knowing that these kids are trying their hardest to do something.”
The neighborhood in which Mojos sits is facing gentrification, and the owner has talked about selling the property. According to the Facebook post, the owner has been generous to Mojos the past decade by charging a relatively low rent, but the price to buy the space is too high, which is why Mojos is now asking the community for help.
Atencio says when he put the announcement on Facebook around 3 a.m. that morning, he received an immediate response. “I didn’t go to bed until about 6 because I was just watching it,” he said.Along with people sharing the event post, money started going into the GoFundMe account right away, and within 24 hours, about $1,500 was raised.
Advice of real estate agents, consultants, possible investors and many others has been sought. Atencio said some investors may end up buying the building and work out a deal with him, but nothing is settled yet.
“We’re trying to find where the fair market price value is, what the basis of reality is and what he [the owner] will accept,” Atencio said. “Once we start getting the bottom line numbers and bottom line negotiations, then I’ll have a better picture of where we’re at.”
Atencio said he was always expecting something like this to happen, but not as abruptly as it did.
More than concerts are at stake. If Mojos closes, there will be nowhere to house Mojos Art and Music Academy (MAMA). MAMA is a non-profit academy that provides affordable music and art lessons, mentoring and scholarships to youth in the Ogden area. The hope is to save Mojos so that this program can be housed in the building that so many teens already call home.
The idea is that MAMA would be on the upper level of the Mojos building and be an actual school. Atencio would like to set up grants and scholarships for students who can’t afford the classes.
“There are a lot of kids who have talent, and if we caught them at 6 or 8, could you imagine what it would do for the community?” Atencio said.
Atencio is weighing a few options for Mojos at this point. One is to purchase the building and renovate the upstairs for MAMA. Another is to secure a new lease with the current owner, despite the high price, and find more time to gather resources. Another option is to move to a new, larger location that would accommodate MAMA and more fans.
As a last resort, Mojos would simply shut down.
“I could do this anywhere,” Atencio said. “But this is the place.”
In order to keep the doors open, funds are needed from the community. Mojos has a GoFundMe account open that is currently asking for $10,000. This would make a down payment on the building if the goal was reached. If a deal cannot be struck, all of the money collected will be used for moving fees. As of June 20, $2,254 has been donated.
No matter the amounts raised by the community, Mojos will be closing July and possibly part of August to focus on getting things worked out. In an effort to collect more funds, the store next to Mojos will be used to sell antiques and other treasures from Ron’s collection to help achieve their goal.
The dates of the sales will be announced later this month. Atencio said he will have a better understanding of what will happen to Mojos by July 5.
On June 21, a concert was held to help raise funds and many community members showed up to enjoy the show. Aspen Rasmussen attended the concert and has been going to Mojos for the past three years. She works there and said Mojos was a good place for her to go.
“I love it here. It’s my life. It’s my home,” she said. If Mojos closes down, it will not only affect Rasmussen, but a lot of other people as well.
“Mojos keeps a lot of kids out of trouble,” she said. Because Mojos is an all-ages venue, teens are welcomed with open arms.
Similarly, Hanssell Tejeda said Mojos is phenomenal. He started attending Mojos for the “hardcore nights,” but began coming more frequently once he started working there. He also said that the community would be heavily affected if Mojos closed.
“After The Basement closed, it distracted people from music,” he said.
Mojos has served and loved Ogden for over a decade now and is asking for that love in return. “We will continue to help individuals in need, but need your help in return,” the Facebook post states. In addition to what Mojos has brought to the community, it has also provided something for Atencio as well.
“This gives me meaning to my life. This gives me purpose,” he said. Every night that Mojos is open is a special one, he said.
“I love these kids. I love these bands. That means I love thousands of people, but that’s how big my family is,” Atencio said.
Mojos is a unique place that has been a place for many to flourish within the past decade. Bands have become successful, and teens have had a safe place to be themselves. Because of this, Atencio says, Mojos isn’t going down without a fight.
“For me to just close up and walk away would be a heartbreak to me,” he said. “It’s something I’d have to live with the rest of my life, knowing that I took this away from the community.”
There are high hopes at the moment that things will work out for the venue, but until then the community will have to wait and see.
“Who knows how long it will take us to get this handled?” Atencio said.