For anyone promoting concerts on a shoestring, attention from the media is usually a good thing. But when both The Columbus Dispatch and Columbus Monthly published stories last week about Abbie and P.J. Hogan and the concerts they have been hosting in their northeast Columbus basement, the Hogans received a visit from a police officer and an inspector from Columbus’s Division of Fire. The fire inspector presented Abbie Hogan with two notices of fire code violations, each with an order for immediate correction.
According to battalion chief Steve Martin, the department was following up on a neighbor’s complaint. One citation claims the Hogans are operating with unsafe conditions because of “inadequate egress” from the basement, which is accessible by a single staircase. The other cites a “change of use” for their home.
Martin says that the change of use occurred when the Hogans decided to charge money for the concerts. “If you had four members of your family and a band and wanted to perform for friends in your basement, no problem,” he says. But “if people are paying money to come in there, it now is a public place.” As a result, he says, the venue would become subject to a different level of scrutiny from a safety perspective than a private home would be.
Martin says that to continue to hold concerts in the basement, the Hogans will have to work with the fire department and building department to address egress from the basement, among other issues, in case of a fire or other event. “Our main goal is protecting people from injury and death.”
The Hogans, who have hosted about 20 concerts to date, offer overnight accommodations to independent touring musicians and pass all proceeds from the shows to the artists. Their most recent concert was held May 5 with a performance by Amy Rigby. About 30 people attended.
The Hogans say they were blindsided by the code violation notices. “We’re not trying to break any laws,” says Abbie Hogan. “We love doing this, and would love to figure out a way to continue doing this.
“We’re going to do our best to work with the fire department to come to some sort of solution,” she says.