AUSTIN, Texas — On Thursday, the Austin City Council approved at least $15 million in COVID-19 relief to help live music venues, arts organizations and child care providers pay for expenses as a result of losses caused by the pandemic.
The funding will be deposited for distribution in the Save Austin's Vital Economic Sectors (SAVES) Fund, which falls under the City's General Fund Emergency Reserve Fund.
At least $6.5 million will come directly from the Financial Services Department Capital Budget ($6 million) and the Building Services Department Capital Budget ($500,000).
The remaining $8.5 million will come from sales tax revenues, according to an amendment to the proposed resolution by Mayor Steve Adler, not the Pay for Success Reserve Fund Operating Budget and Austin Transportation Department Mobility Fund Operating Budget.
The funding will be broken up into three categories, according to a city memo:
- Austin Music Venue Preservation Fund: Designate $5 million toward grants to help live music venues offset expenses as a result of COVID-19.
- Austin Legacy Business Relief Grant: Designate $5 million toward grants to help iconic live music venues, restaurants and arts organizations pay expenses as a result of COVID-19.
- Austin Childcare Provider Relief Grant: Designate $5 million toward grants to help child care providers (in-home and center-based) pay expenses as a result of COVID-19.
In addition, the City is working on other ways to help support and sustain these businesses, including:
- Considering virtual proclamation performances featuring local artists and hosted by live music venues or arts organizations in each City Council district
- Coordinating marketing campaigns across municipal departments to recognize and promote businesses that are unique to Austin and implement robust health and safety practices
- Collaborating with third parties to enhance lease mediation services for local businesses
- Developing “how to” guides to help businesses in the vital sectors successfully pivot during and after the pandemic (e.g. maximizing online merchandise sales, producing virtual live music sessions, etc.)
- Providing ongoing access to economic recovery resources via ATXrecovers.com
It's unclear how soon the funds will be distributed to Austin businesses that qualify. The city council is, however, expected to meet Oct. 15 to discuss more funding opportunities.
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