A city-funded initiative to “acquire/secure arts and music cultural venues” – either by assisting existing operators “who are at risk of being displaced due to economic constraints” or by “acquiring or construction of new creative installation spaces” – is about ready to go into action, after a good long incubation period.
The cogs of the city turn slowly: the city council created the Austin Economic Development Corporation through a Kathie Tovo resolution in May 2020, “with specific plans expected by June 11,” Rachel Rascoe noted in her column at the time (“Faster Than Sound: Could Austin Arts & Music Finally Get a Cultural Trust?” Music, May 29, 2020). And already then, “Tovo said that city staff had already been tasked with planning a cultural trust and EDC on several occasions. … ‘Really, the intention of my putting [an EDC] in my resolution was to set deadlines,” Tovo said. “We asked the manager twice to create an EDC.”
You can bet he started a fire under someone at the town hall, because here we are, not even two years later (council may have forgotten to specify Who June), and AEDC is a real thing, which hired an employee and indeed set up a Cultural Confidence funded with $16.9 million in city money — $12 million from the 2018 bond package, coming from the hotel resort tax and general fund — and is looking for places to spend it. A request for proposals is now open, accepting “proposals from sponsors, organizations and arts programming operators” to, as noted above, either preserve existing cultural or musical venues or buy or build new ones, which would be managed by the AEDC “for the preservation and enlargement [of] Austin’s cultural and musical ecology.”
It’s an ambitious and much-needed effort, of course, and it’s had a number of good people behind it on its long journey to achievement. Of course, $16.9 million isn’t a huge amount of money spread across Austin’s real estate market, and there are plenty of music clubs and arts organizations feeling the pinch just as much as renters. residential. The AEDC will therefore have to be very judicious in its investments and very aggressive in its next fundraising. Good luck to them. To learn more about the fund and to apply for the tender, visit austinedc.org/cultural-trust. And for a deeper dive…
the ULI Austin January’s breakfast will be a discussion about the AEDC Cultural Trust, with AEDC’s first recruit, Director of Transactions Anne Gatling Haynes; John Riedie, head of the Austin Creative Alliance, a primary driver in the creation of the Trust; longer center Cory Baker, and Katie Dixon, who ran Powerhouse Arts. It’s Wednesday, January 26, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., in person at Headliner’s Club ($75 for non-members, $55 for members, $20 for students) and virtually on Zoom ($30 for non- members, $15 for members, free for students) ); see more and sign up at austin.uli.org.
And, a reminder that the TxDOT meeting to unveil the latest version of the Capital Express Central plan to rebuild I-35 via Central Austin arrives, in what TxDOT calls a VOICE CAPEX (Volunteer Opportunity in Community Engagement) working group meeting: Tuesday, Jan. 25, 6-8 p.m. at the Austin Central Library, and streamed live on Zoom; sign up and get more information about the plan at my35capex.com.
Send gossip, dirt, innuendo, rumors and other useful information to nbarbaro at austinchronicle.com.