Austin’s music and arts community to receive windfall from American Rescue Plan

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The American Rescue Plan brings tremendous relief to Austin’s music and arts scene. In a resolution passed last Thursday, city council proposed spending $ 25 million over two years to revive the city’s creative industry, mostly using Austin’s money. $ 188.4 million reduction $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package.

While Austin’s creative sector has received help since the start of the pandemic from CARES-funded relief programs, industry players say they are still suffering.

“Musicians have been without a stable income for 14 months now, and concerts are not back yet,” said singer / songwriter Sonya Jevette. “We need this money to support our industry until the concerts come back to 100%.”

According to a Brookings Institute report last year, 32% of Austin’s creative sector have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The pandemic has also shaken the main way the city supports the arts – hotel occupancy tax revenue. Austin has lost $ 75 million in HOT revenue so far in the pandemic, which means the city cannot fulfill its HOT-funded cultural arts contracts.

the resolution offers $ 15 million in grants over two years (up to $ 7.5 million per year) for artists and arts organizations and $ 10 million in grants over two years (up to $ 5 million per year ) for musicians and music companies. The funds are not yet available because the resolution simply asks staff members to come back with a spending plan.

While much of the money will come from ARPA, it will also come from elsewhere – from the City General Fund, for example, or other local, state or federal sources.

At the Council’s working session last Tuesday, city employees presented ARPA’s funding allocation, which included $ 7.8 million over two years for the Cultural Arts Fund and $ 2.2 million dollars over two years for the Live Music Fund. If the board approves these amounts, staff will still need to find $ 15 million from non-ARPA sources to meet the resolution’s goals.

Once the board has decided how to use the ARPA money at its June 3 or June 10 meeting, “It’s all about getting that money out,” said Vanessa Fuentes, board member. . Much of that immediate relief money would go to existing pandemic-era relief programs so the city wouldn’t waste time creating new programs. Then, during the budget process later in the summer, city staff would explain how to spend the money they find from other sources.

Several music industry professionals have used a third party to administer the funds. “Please include some metrics to make sure the $ 10 million goes directly to our music community and a qualified third party administers the process,” said Pat Buchta, executive director of Austin Texas Musicians, a non-profit organisation.

More details, including an online portal where people can ask for help, will be available in the coming weeks.

photo by Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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