Trunk Space Takes on Corporate Sponsorship, Renamed Cold Stone Creamery Arts and Performance Space

It's a tough time for small music venues looking to stay alive booking bands, and the folks at DIY club The Trunk Space are taking drastic measures to make sure they can continue bringing anarcho-punk bands and New Age Hip-Hop to their tiny stage.

According to co-owners JRC and Steph Carrico, Trunk Space has inked a five-year deal giving exclusive naming rights to Scottsdale-based Cold Stone Creamery. Effective today, April 1, the venue has been renamed Cold Stone Creamery Arts and Performance Space.

"The current economy is not particularly friendly to pure artistic expression," says JRC. "We felt like the time was now to take on the extra help and resources provided by a corporate backer to continue with our mission of providing a place for music, experimental theater, storytelling, puppets, circus side show acts, fine art, handmade gifts and other batshit crazy stuff."

JRC and Carrico note that since the venue opened in 2003, several corporate entities have attempted to get in on the action, including law firm Lerner and Rowe, the company which produces popular commercials featuring music created by JRC and Carrico. Trunk Space's owners had previously spurned offers believing a major corporate sponsorship would hamper their ability to book shows by bands who dress in cardboard boxes and scream at their laptops.

"The difference here is that Cold Stone, essentially, told us to keep doing exactly what we're doing -- they're 100% behind us bringing in totally commercially nonviable art-jazz and staging a backward reading of The Vagina Monologues," JRC said.

The name change is the latest for Phoenix, which has seen a slew of new corporate-branded venues, resulting in names like Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavillion. 

While Cold Stone Creamery Arts and Performance Space will continue to book outsider art acts, some concessions have been made. First, a Cold Stone-style refrigerator full of the the company's ice cream has been placed in the corner where the vintage photo booth had been. Also, Trunk Space volunteers will now wear the familiar Cold Stone uniform, serving ice cream to the all-ages crowds the space draws.

In a compromise sure to cause some controversy, performing bands will be required to sing songs about ice cream when customers tip. Though some might resent the intrusion of corporate branding into "true art," JRC is excited about the possibilities.

"You haven't really heard anything like a riot grrl version of the Flinstones theme with the lyrics changed to be about Rocky Road flavor ice cream. The sheer diversity of the kind of music played here is going to result in some version interesting tip songs," he said.

Already planned is a 45-minute guitar drone loop currently being composed by local avant-garde musician James Fella, who used waffle cones to haphazardly smash at the instrument's strings.

The venue is also working on an installation to debut tonight at the First Friday Art Walk, described by Carrico as "an existentialist riff on childhood traumas, created entirely with cookie dough and sprinkles."

"We are very excited about the future of Cold Stone Creamery Arts and Performing Space," JRC and Carrico intoned in unison.

Though no representatives from the Cold Stone's parent company Kahala Franchising, L.L.C, could not be reached for comment, one ice cream scooper at the Cold Stone location near Phoenix Civic Plaza remained doubtful at the prospects.

"This sounds like a catastrophe," said he said, ladling out two scoops of mint chocolate chip and singing a parody version of "Baby Got Back" that plainly referenced the need for giving gratuity to ice cream scoopers. "What we do with our songs, and the performances we put on, it's real art. This sounds like a bunch of jerkoffs making weird sounds. They're bastardizing what's truly great about Cold Stone."

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.