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Austin City Council creates $1.5 million disaster fund to help local musicians

The fund will help musicians struggling with the impact of the cancellation of South By Southwest, as well as the closure of Austin music venues.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin City Council on Thursday voted to provide economic assistance to local musicians, providing $1.5 million to create and Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund. The fund will help musicians struggling with the impact of the cancellation of South By Southwest, as well as the closure of Austin music venues.

The ordinance is in response to a resolution passed to provide financial assistance to musicians through the Live Music Assistance Fund and other available resources, and explore the possibility of creating a digital live music portal, the City said.

The City of Austin Music Commission last month asked the city council to create the disaster fund.

“I’m proud to represent Downtown Austin and its many vibrant music venues, and I was honored to bring forward this recommendation from the Music Commission to provide financial assistance to musicians,” said Councilmember Kathie Tovo. “I appreciate the thoughtful discussion and collaboration that contributed to passage of this initiative, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Music Commission and others in the music community to identify additional ways to support our local musicians.”

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Music Commission chair Rick Carney said the Austin music community is facing unprecedented financial challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The City of Austin Music Commission is grateful for Councilmember Tovo's initiative supporting the Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund,” he said. “This will bring critical assistance to the musicians that contribute so much to Austin's economy and culture.”

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CEO of the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians Reenie Collins said the organization is grateful for the City’s recognition of the music community’s importance to the city.

“We know that the COVID-19 crisis has affected all people across all levels of our community but has particularly impacted musicians who already live in a very fragile ecosystem and rely on being able to play music to audiences in the public,” said Collins. “This kind of support and funding that our city council is proposing is desperately needed by our musicians.”

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