AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin Economic Development Department announces the awards of more than $14.4 million in relief grants and services to individuals and small businesses impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. These Federal American Rescue Plan Act allocations were dispersed through five programs locally specifically supporting arts and music creative industries plus workforce development.
“These funds from the American Rescue Plan Act help to propel Austin further on the path to full economic recovery,” explains Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Director for the Economic Development Department. “The grants amplify benefits throughout our community to cover basic needs, support workforce availability, and provide valuable services to Austinites.”
The Economic Development Department continues to maintain and publish interactive dashboards for each grant viewable online at www.ATXrecovers.com for greater transparency of the distribution of funds. Each dashboard displays information such as the number of applications received for each program, profiles of applicants (minus personal identifying information), and approval and denial rates.
Austin Arts & Culture Non-Profit Relief Grant
The Austin Arts & Culture Non-Profit Relief Grant provided one-time, unrestricted $20,000 grants to local arts and culture non-profit organizations and supported 196 providers including art museums, historical societies, theaters, local-access radio and television, and festivals. Between August and December 2021, $3,920,000 in grants were awarded to local creative industry non-profit organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These grants were funded from a combination of the City’s American Rescue Plan Act funds - $2 million from Austin City Council’s Resolution 20210610-092 and $420,000 from Arts Commission Recommendation 20210816.5.b.i-ii; $1 million in additional tax revenue, and $500,000 of budget stabilization reserves from the Cultural Arts Fund.
Arts Community Relief
The Arts Community Relief funding awarded $5,290,848.55 in grants to 379 existing cultural contractors. These funds came from a portion of the City’s American Rescue Plan Act dedicated to arts. The Emergency Funding and Proactive Strategies for Future Funding Working Group of the Austin Arts Commission met three times in September and made a recommendation for funding allocations to Austin City Council. The Austin Arts Commission Recommendation 20210920-4.1.i decided to fund FY21 cultural contractors in Core and Cultural Heritage Festivals as follows: those who received less than $10,000 in previous relief funding (through Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, ARPA-funded Arts and Culture Nonprofit Relief, Creative Space Assistance, and CARES Act-funded Nonprofit Relief for arts organizations) would receive 100% of their FY21 contract amount; those who received less than $1,000,000 but more than $10,000 in relief funding (through the same sources) would receive 85% of their FY21 contract amount; and contractors who received more than $1,000,000 would not receive any funding. This recommendation was unanimously approved by Austin City Council through Resolution 20211118-009 on November 18, 2021.
Austin Live Music Venue Preservation Fund
An additional $1,394,700 million in grants were awarded to local live music venues as part of the Austin Live Music Venue Preservation Fund, a program of the Save Austin’s Vital Economic Sectors (SAVES) Fund. This additional funding was allocated by Austin City Council through Resolution No. 20210610-077 on June 10, 2021 to dedicate portions of the federal American Rescue Plan Act to support the music industry. This brings the grand total distributed dollars to local live music venues through this program to nearly $6.4 million since December 2020. As part of a partnership with the City of Austin, The Long Center began distributing monthly grants in January 2022 to the remaining 13 venues that were eligible and scored in 2021 for Phase 2 funding of the program, but not fully awarded due to lack of funds.
Austin Music Disaster Relief Grant
An additional $2.3 million in grants will be awarded to 1,150 local professional musicians, independent promoters, and music industry workers through the Austin Music Disaster Relief Grant. These one-time, unrestricted $2,000 grants are provided to music industry workers facing hardships due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This additional funding was allocated by Austin City Council through Resolution No. 20210610-077 on June 10, 2021 to dedicate portions of the federal American Rescue Plan Act to support the music industry. Applications closed on January 28, and the City partnered with The Long Center to process applications in February and distribute grants in March 2022. This brings the grand total distributed dollars through the Austin Music Disaster Relief Grant to $3.8 million in support since 2020.
Capital IDEA Workforce Development
The Capital IDEA Workforce Development partnership will provide $1.5 million in services and support for 30 low-income, nontraditional students pursuing a career in the high demand field of healthcare. The partnership will help students earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through Concordia University. Students participating in the program will receive wraparound services as they work towards their BSN, including tuition, case management, and assistance with childcare and transportation. Capital IDEA nursing students will complete program prerequisites at Austin Community College before transferring to Concordia to finish their degree by Spring 2025.
“Our work continues into 2022 as we follow Austin City Council direction to ensure that all industries critical to Austin’s economy are supported” explains Susana Carbajal, Acting Deputy Director for the Economic Development Department. “The extension of recovery funds and development of new programs further supports the City’s equity goals by reaching individuals and businesses who have been disproportionately impacted throughout the pandemic.”
Equity strategies used by the Economic Development Department included circulating press releases and promotional materials in English and Spanish; allowing applicants to complete grant applications in Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, English, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese; and contracting with local community organizations to provide one-on-one application assistance to anyone who needed support.
The City of Austin will also support the launch of several new grants later this year, including programs to support applicants through recovery process, childcare centers and programming, and job creation across multiple industries. All eligibility and details for recovery programs will be available on www.ATXrecovers.com. This website is intended to be a helpful resource in accessing services to recover from the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It features up-to-date opportunities for businesses, individuals, and non-profits; updates on local, state, and federal recovery policies; and economic indicators for the local economy.
About the City of Austin Economic Development Department
The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/edd