One month after this year's Blues on the Green was canceled, the signature concert series announced its return as Austin officials move to grow the city's work with other live music and cultural events.

“We're thrilled that the people of Austin, the city, H-E-B and the countless other sponsors agree that Blues on the Green is an essential bit of what makes Austin the Live Music Capital of The World. We are so grateful to be able to continue this great, 30-plus-year tradition. See you in the park this summer!" ACL Radio Program Director Lynn Barstow said in a statement.

The specifics

After holding free concerts in Austin for decades, Blues on the Green organizers announced in January that rising costs had halted their plans to once again hold summer shows at Zilker Park in 2024.

Weeks later, City Council members voted to explore whether Austin could work with Blues on the Green to sustain it into the future through city co-sponsorship of the event. On Feb. 16, organizers announced the event was back on.

Details on the upcoming concerts have not yet been released.

Jeff Miller, owner of Blues on the Green's production company Event Production Services, told council Feb. 15 that Austin's support for the program would benefit local businesses, sponsors, other events, concert crew and vendors, and performers.

“Having a place for the community to gather that doesn’t require buying an expensive ticket is invaluable," Miller said. "It provides access to all and brings people from all walks of life together to enjoy free live music in the park, and enjoy the company of their neighbors, make new friends, listen to great music, and discover genres and artists they might not have had exposure to previously."

The approach

The city's work with Blues on the Green was directed in a resolution from council member Natasha Harper-Madison. Beyond that single event, her proposal also asked city leadership to find more ways to support free, public cultural events and festivals throughout Austin's arts ecosystem.

"It’s essential now, more than ever, that we as a city strategize and create a process for co-sponsoring events that are low-cost or free to maintain our city’s cultural identity as the live music capital," Harper-Madison said. “Both components are valuable to the execution of this resolution. Blues on the Green is a long-loved tradition across our community, but it’s crucial that our city sustain an active role in supporting other community events as well so that all of our residents can enjoy our unique, vibrant and diverse live music and arts cultures of Austin."

Council also asked to involve members of the music industry, local nonprofits and institutions such as Huston-Tillotson University, The University of Texas and Austin Community College in that process moving forward.

Harper-Madison said she hopes the plan can build an "equitable and accessible system" for both old and new cultural programs to take root in Austin.

"Our vision is that the future generations of Austinites will get to experience live music events and traditions that are the fabric of our uniquely Austin quality of life," she said.

What's next

While the city works to roll out that concept, another local arts organization could also be in line for support.

Last month, the Red River Cultural District—representing the numerous bars, venues, eateries and other businesses around Red River Street—issued a call for a financial aid package to help maintain the live music district.

Members of Austin's Music Commission recommended that the city send gap funding to the district last month. And while details haven't yet been released, downtown council member Zo Qadri said Feb. 15 he's now planning his own resolution to help the district in the near future.

"Preservation of our city’s cultural and fine arts is something very important to me and all Austinites, and I’m committed to finding the necessary financial support and other resources needed to maintain our vibrant cultural arts and music scene," he said.

Quote of note

“For over a decade, the music community has relentlessly advocated, educated and encouraged and worked to be very clear about the needs and current state of the industry. Endless resolutions and plans have been adopted and endorsed to support the idea of a live music economy, but today, here we are, and they’ve obviously fallen very short. These pressures impacting our key cultural assets only become more complex. The city cannot be in a position to pick and choose winners and losers in this already very vulnerable industry," said Nicole Klepadlo, interim executive director of the Red River Cultural District.