Proposed live music grants could fund hundreds of concerts

The city is seeking comments on the initial guidelines for the long-planned Live Music Fund, which would provide hundreds of grants of up to $ 10,000 to independent musicians and promoters to create new concerts and festivals across the city. Total proposed funding for the program is $ 2.5 million, with grant amounts ranging from $ 5,000 to $ 10,000 each.

City staff presented suggested guidelines for the Live Music Fund event program at the Music Commission meeting last week, explaining that the commission’s focus on equity and communities Historically underserved will give priority in scoring applications to racial minorities and people with gender and disability. well-founded considerations. Other priority groups will be independent promoters with a membership of three or less, and Austin-based musicians and professional groups.

The initial guidelines state that the allocated funds can be used for live and virtual events, special events and festivals based in specific city council districts, and paid marketing plans that promote funded events as ‘tourist attraction to comply with the use of hotel occupancy tax dollars. used to fund the program.

Members of the Commission and the community can view the program guidelines online. Staff will collect comments for a report at next month’s committee meeting, at which time they will decide whether they can revise the guidelines for a final Council vote.

The Council approved the creation of the Live Music Fund in the fall of 2019, for the first time by specifically setting aside a portion of hotel tax revenues separate from the money allocated more broadly to the cultural arts. When hotel tax revenues plummeted in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the commission chose to take about a year to make equity and diversity a priority in the use of the fund.

“I am impressed with these guidelines and the prioritization of not only fairness but also musicians because it is a clear statement of support,” said President Jonathan “Chaka” Mahone. “We’ve come up with proposals to help with venues and talked about nonprofits, but prioritizing artists and promoters with ideas, especially from underserved communities, is a great move.”

Erica Shamaly, Head of Music and Entertainment Division, said the overall goal of funding live music events creates more opportunities for new types of concerts and festivals in the city, with education on planning, promotion and digital marketing to help new promoters and musicians. succeed.

“The hope is that by putting the grants in the hands of the musicians, they can go out into the community and start collaborating and organizing new, exciting events,” she said.

“It could be at any of the many locations we have here in Austin. It could be in a public park. This is to give the funds that (the musicians) have probably always dreamed of having, to be able to go and book this residence in a place or have a festival weekend in order to bring together all their friends or other local musicians to put highlight a certain component of Austin.

Recipients will receive the last chunk of their money with the filing of a post-event report detailing their execution, marketing, and other elements of the event that will be used to create future best practices.

Commissioner Oren Rosenthal said the last step is important in justifying the program to skeptics.

“I don’t want this to be too bureaucratic, but the recipients of these grants, if we could ask them to tell the city what the benefit is, and I bet we could do some kind of benefit analysis and say X number of jobs and X number of performances resulted, ”he said. “These are some of my thoughts on how we can justify this and let Austin taxpayers as well as visitors know what their money is being used for.”

Photo of Matt made available via a Creative Commons license.

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