Several funding opportunities for members of the Austin arts and music scene were discussed at an Austin Music Commission meeting on July 12. (Courtesy of Renée Dominguez)
Applications for a grant program that could see $ 2 million distributed to 100 of Austin’s creative nonprofits will open on July 14, one of the city’s many fundraising initiatives aimed this year to bring relief to artists. local and musical and cultural venues.
Austin’s new nonprofit arts and culture relief grant was created by city council in early spring, following deliberations by officials on spending federal dollars from the American Rescue Act to ‘Austin. Through the program, dozens of organizations in the city will receive allocations of $ 20,000 for their operations and pandemic relief. Eligible nonprofits include arts and culture-focused groups and spaces such as theaters, concert halls, museums, historical societies, local broadcasters, and festivals.
“As one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, it is essential to support Austin’s creative sector as we work towards our recovery as a community,” said Veronica Briseño, Director of Recovery. Austin Economic, in a statement. “These grant dollars will help stabilize our local arts and culture organizations that inspire Austin’s creative ecosystem.”
Submitted applications will be considered based on an organizational needs and equity scoring framework, said Laura Odegaard, project manager at Austin’s cultural arts division, at a music commission meeting. Austin on July 12. The scoring system will also not use a lottery or first come, first served system; instead, the groups with the highest scores will be notified of approved funding within days of closing the application portal.
“100% of the rewards will be based on an organization’s score,” Odegaard said. “It allows for more transparency, to support those who need it most and, above all … it allows us first of all to lead with fairness. . “
Austin staff will assess arts and culture nonprofits applying for grants against three general categories. First, 40% of each organization’s score will be based on equity, scored based on leadership demographics. Organizational details, including the size and income of a nonprofit organization, who it serves and whether it operates a location, accounts for an additional 31% of the grant score, with the remaining 29% based on l emergency, including the fallout from COVID-19 and relief funds previously received.
“All of these different things add up to 100 points, and then we start at the top,” Odegaard said. “The organizations with the highest points will be rewarded first, and then we’ll just go to the bottom of the list.”
In addition to the new nonprofit grant, Austin’s creative scene is expected to receive millions more over the coming months through initiatives such as Creative Space Assistance.
Live Music Fund program and schedule, detailed in more detail by city staff on July 12.
Kim McCarson, economic and commercial liaison for the Austin Music and Entertainment division, said awards of between $ 5,000 and $ 50,000 could be awarded to concert and performance venues, museums and galleries in the next year. exercise as part of the creative spaces program. Funding will be distributed from a prize pool of $ 1 million that organizations can use for items ranging from rent to facility improvements. And while the program has in the past offered reimbursement of venues for expenses, McCarson said Austin plans to send money in advance to eligible organizations this coming year.
Another potential change to the structure of the Creative Spaces program is the increased emphasis on equity. McCarson said individuals or businesses in Austin’s “historically under-represented population” may see an additional score increase when applying for funding. The program could be launched as early as this fall.
Finally, McCarson shared information on prospects for help to be sent over the next year through the Live Music Fund funded by the Austin Hotel Occupancy Tax. Based on the city’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2021-2022, the fund could provide around $ 2.55 million in direct aid to applicants in the local live music space. Depending on the performance of Austin’s tourism industry and associated hotel taxes, that number could rise or fall over the coming year.
Staff said independent promoters, local musicians and small groups could be prioritized for funding until the end of 2021 and 2022 based on new program guidelines. An additional focus on minority, disabled and other under-represented candidates is also proposed, which Music Commission Chairman Chaka Mahone highlighted as a positive development in each of the funding plans discussed on July 12.
“This is good news for a lot of people who haven’t been at the table for a long time. And that’s important, ”Mahone said after the staff presentations.
Residents and musicians can now provide feedback on the scope of next year’s Live Music Fund over the coming weeks as program details are finalized. More information about the fund can be found here, and comments for municipal staff can be left here.