ONCE Lounge & Ballroom receives $25,000 grant from NIVA

Photo Credit: Erin Genett

The curtain hasn’t fallen just yet for ONCE Somerville.

The independent lounge and ballroom has received a $25,000 grant from the National Independent Venue Association’s Emergency Relief Fund, following the permanent closure of the venue’s space at Highland Avenue.

According to a newsletter from owner JJ Gonson and the ONCE staff, this extra funding will help power ONCE’s Virtual Venue and assist the staff’s search for a new physical location.


“Although the grant comes too late for us to stay in our beloved space at 156 Highland Ave., ONCE lives on for now at the OVV (ONCE Virtual Venue) while we look for a new space,” the statement reads.

Like all other Boston-area venues, ONCE shuttered in March of 2020 due to government-mandated public health regulations, and remained closed until the permanent closure of its physical space in late November. However, the Virtual Venue component of ONCE has produced a steady stream of online shows since the spring of last year, with ample events on the calendar for 2021. ONCE also has an active Patreon account, which generates some revenue for the venue while in-person shows are at a standstill.

The grant comes as a major win for the Boston music scene as a whole, which has suffered many losses since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other venues that closed permanently in 2020 include Bull McCabe’s and Thunder Road in Somerville, Jamaica Plain’s Bella Luna Restaurant and Milky Way LoungeThe Cantab in Cambridge, and Allston’s Great Scott and Wonder Bar.


“Thank you for your ongoing support of ONCE,” the newsletter concludes. “We are going to fight hard for what we feel is important- independent performance, independent art, and independent rooms to perform and make art in.”