A pivot from music industry worker to music industry advocate
“Awful, terrible, wonderful, humbling,” Jeannette Gregor said, describing the year after South by Southwest was canceled in March 2020.
She said she felt every emotion possible.
Before the pandemic, Gregor wore many hats: She was a bartender, event coordinator, music festival production worker, screenwriter. When things first shut down in Austin, she was annoyed by how often people in these industries were told to pivot.
“That made me so mad, because it’s just like, you know, would you do that to a doctor? Would you do that to a surgeon? Would you do that to a lawyer?” she said.
Gregor said she felt like her peers were being left out of relief efforts, and she saw an opportunity to step in and advocate for them.
“That anger manifested into possibly the biggest pivot that I could do,” she said, “which was [taking] everything I know from bar management, taking everything I know from festival production and then taking everything I know from screenwriting and storytelling, mashing it all together and becoming an advocate and an activist for our event community.”
The coalition was created to keep careers in the industry relevant to the Live Music Capital of the World and to help struggling out-of-work event industry people “in every way we can,” according to its website.
One of the first things the Amplified Sound Coalition did was to push City Council to pass the SAVES (Save Austin’s Vital Economic Sectors) resolution. The measure, passed a year ago, put $10 million in emergency relief toward local venues through the Live Music Preservation Fund and the Austin Legacy Business Relief Grant.
TASC's work extends beyond the music scene.
During February’s winter storm, it joined ATX Musicians, the Texas Music Workforce Coalition and Austin City Council Member Natasha Harper Madison to help distribute food and supplies to Austinites who were impacted by power and water outages.
“I think, 50 volunteers showed up that first day, the second day, and we had 100 volunteers show up,” Gregor said. “It was just absolutely incredible how many people showed up and then just jumped in and got to work.”
When Mohawk reopened in May, Gregor was hired full time as the venue manager. Her return to the club hasn't stopped her work with TASC. She is formalizing the group's nonprofit status and has started to write about her experiences during the pandemic. Her account will be published as a fundraiser; the money will go toward helping local industry workers with food and medical bills.
As if that weren’t enough, Gregor is also working on organizing an acoustic series at Mohawk that will benefit TASC.
Click the listen button above to hear the Pause/Play Episode “One Year Later,” where people within Austin’s music ecosystem describe how the pandemic has impacted them.