As Austin continues to lose creative spaces, City Council attempts to find solutions

Austin Artspace near Anderson Lane is one of a few places in Austin that offers an artist in residence space.

Austin Artspace near Anderson Lane is one of a few places in Austin that offers an artist in residence space.

The local arts and music community received support Thursday from Austin City Council as part of an ongoing battle to overcome affordability pressures.

Austin's unprecedented growth has skyrocketed property values, resulting in the rapid loss of creative venues and studios as tenants face increased pressure to pay rising rental rates. City officials and community members alike have referred to the situation as a crisis.

As the community scrambles to come up with answers to the real estate market’s demands, Austin City Council, too, has made several attempts to initiate helpful programs. On Thursday, council members made another attempt through a resolution to explore community-funded and private partnership solutions.

The cultural land trust is a counter-market effort that creates an independent, privately and philanthropically funded real estate holding company that would buy available land and lease it to creative uses at affordable rates. John Riedie, CEO of the Austin Creative Alliance who helped design the land trust, described the effort as something similar to Visit Austin, an independent group that works in concert with city government.

To incentivize public-private partnerships, the city will consider adjusting policy around its economic development incentive program to encourage mixed-use developments to include creative spaces.

Thursday’s resolution also directs city staff to explore a micro-loan program, which would allow Austinites to invest in local art products and spaces. The resolution only points to examples of success in Australia, England, the Netherlands and Tasmania.

City staff is scheduled to come back March 22 to City Council with further recommendations to put these proposals into action.


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