City to expand federal aid to musicians and locations affected by Covid-19

The city will provide more aid to concert halls and anyone involved in the music industry, using $ 4 million in federal funds intended to aid Covid-19.

The Music Commission on Friday approved a recommendation for guidelines for city staff to move forward with another round of direct cash payments to Austin musicians as well as those living in the metro area. of five counties. The total of $ 2.3 million for this program will be used to provide grants of $ 2,000 or $ 1,000 to eligible musicians, whose applications will be scored and weighted to prioritize equity and help those in the communities. traditionally marginalized.

The commission also supported the addition of $ 1.5 million to an existing program to provide grants and business planning assistance to concert halls whose operations were significantly curtailed during the forced shutdowns early in the year. the pandemic.

The $ 4 million US bailout fund is a staff-recommended reduction from the $ 10 million council initially asked staff to allocate of the city’s total federal aid.

The decision to extend assistance to musicians and music industry professionals to those living outside of Austin was made due to the city’s growing affordability crisis, which is forcing artists long-time and others to relocate to Bastrop, Hayes, Caldwell and other counties although they can still perform, register and conduct much of their business in Austin.

The residency requirement was one of the most criticized elements of the city’s previous aid programs for artists and musicians.

Commissioner Oren Rosenthal said the city should note the number of grants given to musicians living outside the city and provide this data to leaders in other counties to encourage them to support creatives who are settling in their communities.

“I realize there has been some displacement, but we are subsidizing people who are not in the city of Austin with money designated by Austin,” he said. “There may not be a program there, but nothing prevents the Music Commission from saying that Austin and Travis County are giving this and we would expect a commensurate amount to come from the county (Williamson ), Hayes and all those others, to support these artists.

“Calling them out not to support their artists like Austin does could be a big hit in the ribs and it could cause these musicians to organize in their local jurisdictions to start garnering support from their local governments.”

Commissioner Graham Reynolds asked staff to find a way to weight the scoring of applications so that new entrants, including those who had been excluded due to residency requirements, have a better chance of receiving a higher award amount . He added that a disproportionate number of black, indigenous and Latino musicians and music industry professionals “have been displaced”.

“A lot of this focus is a way to solve these equity issues, and Austin has resources that other places don’t have because the music industry is here and because there are funds here to help these people in a way that these other counties don’t necessarily have the resources or the will to do, ”Reynolds said.

The grant amount of $ 2.3 million represents an expected administrative fee of 5% paid to an external vendor to process and score applications based on criteria provided by the city, with grants to be delivered this fall or later. here the end of the year.

Members of the Commission strongly supported the research of the nonprofit MusiCares, which is managed by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to provide services and assistance to musicians across the country.

Photo made available via a Creative Commons License.

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