For the Love of Art

Austin launches program to save arts organizations from rising rents

Austin launches program to save arts organizations from rising rents

Roadhouse Relics Greetings from Austin postcard mural
Local arts organizations are feeling the pressure from Austin's hot real estate market. Roadhouse Relics/Facebook

In a time when nobody is safe from the pressures of rising rents, the City of Austin's Cultural Arts Division has launched a new initiative to help save local arts organizations from losing their homes. Introducing the Art Space Assistance Program (ASAP), a pilot series of financial grants designed to combat our hot real estate market.

The goal is to "support nonprofits facing permanent displacement, those previously displaced, or those facing lease renewals at substantially higher rates," with substantially higher defined as a 25 percent increase.

Those interested in applying must demonstrate how the grant will immediately help the the organization avoid closure, move to a new location, or expand its reach. Recipients will be awarded based on a points system, but priority will be given to nonprofits serving at-risk populations; women; or African, Latino, Asian, Arab, and Native American communities.

Grants will be doled out in increments up to $35,000 for help on rent and $50,000 for tenant improvements. Since ASAP is still a pilot program, the city has a one-time funding pool of $200,000 for 2017.

"Austin's creative community is at the heart of what makes our city vibrant and unique," says Meghan Wells, manager of the Cultural Arts Division, in a release. "As affordability issues continue to grow, so too will the city's commitment to supporting local artists in as many ways as possible."

ASAP is a result of the 2016 Austin Music & Creative Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution, a political push to identify and solve issues facing our local arts and entertainment scene. To keep the conversation going, the city has also introduced the annual Creative Space Survey. Everyone from artists to art organizations are invited to participate in the 2017 survey.

An informational session will be held on June 29 at Austin City Hall. The deadline for applications is August 1. Recipients will be announced on August 31. Detailed info on the application process can be found here.