Leaders from the cluster of live music venues along Red River Street have asked the city to dedicate $35 million to purchase venue properties in the area, as part of a larger menu of programs and spending to preserve those businesses in the face of prolonged closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday the Red River Cultural District delivered a six-page policy proposal to members of City Council asking for music venues to be considered for possible immediate relief using money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Other recommendations included streamlined permitting for music venues, completion of long-planned streetscape improvements and improved services for the large homeless population located near the district.
The proposal comes as city staffers are assembling an initial framework for how best to use the $170.8 million the city has available from the CARES Act, which directs recipient governments to use the funds for a combination of emergency response, public health and economic recovery needs.
[Editor Charlie sez: Austin is the Live Music Capitol for another six months! Let’s hope that the new rules result in more paid shows for local bands. For context, the Austin Music Census is a must-read.]
Over the objections of a number of neighbors and nearby hotels, City Council approved a six-month pilot program Thursday that will allow a handful of bars on Red River Street to play outdoor live music one hour later into the night on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The measure, which was approved 9-1-1, with Council Member Ora Houston voting no and Council Member Delia Garza abstaining, was framed as part of an ongoing initiative at City Hall to protect Austin’s independent music scene. Indeed, part of the ordinance directs city staff to try to assess the financial impact that the extended hours will have on musicians and other employees tied to the music industry.
The ordinance affects five music venues that are currently allowed to play outdoor live music until midnight on the weekends: Stubb’s BBQ, Mohawk, Empire Control Room & Garage, Beerland and Cheer Up Charlies. Under the pilot, they will be allowed to play music until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 12:30 a.m. on Thursdays.
The program will run from May to November. Council will decide whether to renew the pilot for an additional six months in October.
Americans are freedom loving people and nothing says freedom like getting away with it.
from Long Long Time by Guy Forsyth.
The list of outsider big money special interests that fared poorly after running into local Austin resident groups with staying power and grassroots clout is long and distinguished. Even so, the radical change in Austin’s skyline bear mute witness to just how futile resistance is against determined multinationals.
Uber and Lyft are using surge pricing of political influence to run headlong into this conflict as the brogrammers pour millions into a ballot measure to rewrite local laws to their benefit and finance the brinksmanship between the commoditizer and the commoditized that we are all too accustomed to. But for once local elected officials are for the most part standing up to the well-funded outsiders. (This story is of particular interest to cities where Google has put down stakes with Google Fiber–Uber is a major investment for Google Ventures and is rumored to be the future of Google’s driverless cars.)
Trust me–at the rate these companies are going…