Mayor announces plan to protect Austin music venues through $10M fund

A statue of legendary Austin musician Stevie Ray Vaughan stands with downtown Austin in the backdrop.

A statue of legendary Austin musician Stevie Ray Vaughan stands with downtown Austin in the backdrop.

Iconic Austin music venues will be purchased and preserved through a private trust, which Mayor Steve Adler's office announced today has been made possible after the city won a national contest.

The city was among five public entities announced today as winners of the Neighborly Bonds Challenge. Winning the contest provides the city with legal, administrative, marketing and other support services for free or at reduced rates. These services would have cost $100,000.

"This is going to give us an opportunity to try something that really has never been tried anywhere else," Adler said. "This is going to give us the support we need to try to crowdsource in our community a $10 million fund to ... help preserve some of our music venues."

Adler clarified that the fund does not create a tax on Austin residents but would crowdsource funding for investing in music venues and making it more affordable to sustain them.

In an article Community Impact Newspaper published in April, Jason Stanford, a spokesperson for the mayor, spoke about the potential program. He said that once the music venues are purchased and put into the trust, private companies would continue operating the facilities.

The Red River Cultural District, home to such venues as Mohawk and Stubb's, has been specifically identified by the city of Austin Economic Development Department for preservation. A technical assistance panel will recommend how to sustain the Red River Cultural District, according to a news release from the mayor's office.

Adler introduced a resolution in February that called on the city to address the challenges facing Austin's music industry. He said this most recent initiative will go a long way toward helping the city maintain its renowned music scene.

"It's a way out of a challenge and a problem that Austin has faced for a long time—because when we lose locations like the Armadillo World Headquarters or Liberty Lunch, we lose a piece of our soul," Adler said. "We will no longer be the 'Live Music Capital of the World' if we continue to lose music venues."
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