Mayor Adler announces plan for $10 million fund to preserve music venues

City trying to save the local music industry

To help Austin's live music scene flourish, Mayor Steve Adler announced on Thursday a multi-million dollar investment into preserving the local music venues in Downtown Austin.

Music industry leaders told KVUE that the announcement is huge and exciting, but at the same time, a long time coming.

Jennifer Houlihan, who works as the Executive Director of Austin Music People, said what makes Austin special is a wide array of music available, such classical to contemporary, hip-hop, rap, EDM and world music.

"I can go to hear electronic music, like ‘Henry and the Invisibles,’ I love some of the great hip-hop acts like ‘Magna Carta,’ I love singer-songwriter Susanna Chofel,” she said.

Houlihan said rent in the Red River Cultural District in Austin is rising, and landlords are recouping some those costs by raising lease prices, leaving music venue owners vulnerable.

"There's a huge audience for live music, and the issue isn't people aren't coming out to see music, the issue is that the cost for us to do those things is increasing,” said Stephen Sternschein, Empire Control and Garage Managing Partner.

Austin is now getting 10 million dollars in mini-bonds to solve this problem. Mayor Steve Adler announced Austin as one of the five winners of the Neighborly Bonds Challenge on Thursday. At the same time, the official announcement was also being made at the Bond Buyer Conference in Los Angeles.

He plans to invest all of the prize money into preserving the city's iconic music venues to help save Austin's title as the live music capital of the world.

"This is a creative solution for the creative class. I want to quickly add that all of the details have been worked out, that's a part of this process,” Adler said.

Adler said he hopes regular folks in the community can join in on the conversation on how this money should be allocated.

With this investment, Adler said he is fulfilling one of the objectives in the Music & Creative Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution, which was introduced last February in an effort to solve the issue of affordability for musicians in the city.

Sternschein said if Austin were to lose its music scene, he along with many others would leave the city.

"If Austin didn't have the live music scene that it had, I wouldn't live here, I would go find the scene. I would go where people are congregating and making music,” he said.

Houlihan believes Austin would lose its appeal without the live music capital title.

"That's our international brand, that's a big part of what attracts tech companies to Austin, young families to Austin, it's the fact that we're such a vibrant, creative place to come and test your ideas,” she said.

Thursday’s announcement is just one piece of the city's effort to save the local music industry.

City leaders also requested that the Urban Land Institute run a study on the Red River Cultural District, and to provide recommendations on how to preserve the music and cultural venues, while meeting the market demands for housing and commercial space. 
 

(© 2016 KVUE)


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