With the announcement of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce annual Business Recognition Luncheon nominees, the list was filled with 11 local businesses that are considered Champions of Success. The event recognized businesses' economic impact and community contributions to the Green Bay area and acknowledged business acheivements, growth, innovation and exceptional business practices. Most are accustomed to seeing the list filled with typical business ventures such as construction and energy-based corporations, electric and tech-based businesses, the finance field, pro sports and medical teams, and leading innovators of main-stay economic safegaurds. However, in the middle of this list, was a humble music venue who's impact is as far reaching as a national audience but still strongly rooted to its wide range local hometown supporters.
Finding a local music venue that hosts great musicians (including award-winning national acts) in a family-friendly environment with no charge, may seem like an impossible feat. That is where Cup O' Joy comes in. They are a non-profit music venue that's been serving music and coffee to Green Bay for more than 20 years. It was founded in 1989 at 335 N Broadway, and due to rapidly growing crowds, moved to its current location in 1999 just down the street at 232 S. Broadway. It is run entirely by a staff of about 100 Community volunteers - many of whom have been volunteering there for more than 5 years.
Open Friday and Saturday nights, Cup O' Joy host 104 shows a year. From keeping up the building and grounds, staffing the evening shows, and running the technical work, the volunteers are responsible for making this a great place for live music. There is no cover charge and 'The Cup' (as the followers have always called it) is supported soley by donations. The fact that it has continued to keep its doors open with a $0.00 operating budget is a hard concept to grasp. Sitting down with Janet Oettinger (the standing manager and non-compensated full-time volunteer), allowed some insight to the beliefs and concepts of The Cup. When asked how they manage the operations of a successful venue without a budget she stated "If we don't have it, we don't need it. I feel so cared for. When the building needs fixing we are blessed with a crew to do it. We have many local business owners who have been long-time supporters and visitors of The Cup. When something needs to get done they are the first to step up and handle it. They see a need for this venue and feel blessed to be a part of the continued improvements being made." That is not to say they don't have major issues that still need taking care of. If large scale projects are needed they fundraise as neccessary.
Once a year they host a highly successful fundraising event at a larger stage in the area. The fundraiser has become so popular they now book and fill the entire historic Meyer Theatre in downtown Green Bay. National and local artists agree to play for free and all monies raised benefit The Cup. This is piggy-backed by the same artist doing other shows throughout the year on the stage at the Cup O' Joy. They have come to love the atmosphere and vibe the venue offers, even though they are foregoing their normal fee and playing only for the money donated during their live shows. The Cup has become nationally known as an outlet for CD/Label releases and the opportunity to see your favorite artist in an intimate atmosphere. They only seat 350 people at each show, doing 2 shows a night, with a line out the door waiting to get in.
I asked Jan what drives her to give so much time and energy to The Cup. With the success of this venue, against all seeminly unbelievable odds, she said "It is such a miracle that this place exists. I have learned to recognize that it is a privelage to be a part of a living, breathing miracle." What she has gained from the experience of running such an incredible establishment is the same benefit the Cup O' Joy has brought to our Community; a positive addition to our area and the opportunity to see a small wonder in the world of big business.