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COVID-19

Austin Opens Up Relief Program For Live Music Venues Affected By COVID-19

SAVES Rally Dead Music 09 16 2020.jpg
Julia Reihs
/
KUT
Musician Andrew Noble attends a rally in support of the city's SAVES program in September.

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Austin's ailing live music venues have been thrown a lifeline ahead of the year's end.

The City of Austin will begin accepting applications Friday for short- and longterm grants through the Live Music Preservation Fund. The money, which the city says it hopes to dole out by the end of the year, will be distributed by the Long Center for the Performing Arts.

Getting to this point took some time. Absent federal relief, the Austin City Council set aside city money in October to provide $5 million through its Save Austin's Vital Economic Sectors (SAVES) program, which also aims to assist child care providers and longtime restaurants and bars.

The wait has been frustrating for struggling businesses, staffers and musicians who depend on the live music scene, which likely won't come back in full force for another year. Members of the community pointed to the quick turnaround on similar programs in cities like Nashville and Houston, while the city argued it wanted to provide longterm relief to ensure businesses survive after the pandemic, not just a quick check.

The grant program's opening comes a week after City Council approved guidelines for it and well ahead of the Economic Development Department's tentative timeline to provide relief. The department initially expected to open up applications and distribute money by February.

Venues can apply starting Friday at 10 a.m. To qualify, they must be within city limits and show they've lost income as a result of COVID-19.

Venues can apply for emergency relief of $20,000 or longterm relief of up to $140,000 (with monthly installments). Businesses receiving longterm help must go through so-called technical assistance, which includes a financial evaluation and legal guidance. They'll also be required to commit to the Austin's equity plan, which the city hopes will increase opportunities for people of color working in the live music community.

To apply, go to the Long Center's application site. The deadline is Jan. 11. The city says it hopes to begin distributing money by the end of December.

The city has yet to finalize a third-party to distribute grants for a separate fund for so-called legacy businesses, which could include bars, restaurants and arts venues that have been operating in Austin for at least 20 years.

Got a tip? Email Andrew Weber at aweber@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.

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