Preserving and fostering Austin's live music community is an initiative at the heart of several local organizations, including the Austin Music Commission and AMP (Austin Music People). Last week, the Austin Music Commission drafted a resolution to provide the Austin music community with a "toolbox" of new programs geared toward helping the city's live music industry flourish side-by-side with extensive new downtown development.
The "toolbox," which has been fully endorsed by AMP, must be approved by City Council. It calls for four distinct new initiatives that will, according to AMP Executive Director Jennifer Houlihan, “put the music community squarely in the middle of managing its own growth and its future.”
The proposed toolbox includes the following elements:
Good Neighbor Program
A direct request of Austin Music People, the Good Neighbor Program is an incentive-based program that rewards venues for being "active contributors" to the quality of life in their neighborhoods. The voluntary program provides incentives to venues that adhere to the Sound Impact Plan, agreements, and other best practices, including commitments to neighborhood-friendly behaviors like trash pick-up and having enough restrooms for patrons.
Venue Education Initiative
Running alongside the Good Neighbor Program would be a venue education initiative to educate club owners, artists, sound engineers and staff how to comply with the laws and regulations that impact their work. The program would teach current and potential music venues how to navigate the City's processes, in addition to industry-wide best practices.
Music Venue Assistance Program
The Music Commission is formally requesting the launch of the Music Venue Assistance Program, based on a tremendously successful pilot program. "Through this program, venues can borrow funds for specific improvements such as sound-dampening bandshells, directional speakers, and other sound mitigation materials and equipment," states AMP's press release. "It allows small businesses to invest early in elements designed to reduce the sound traveling to neighboring properties."
Bad Actor Program
In addition to the rewards and assistance programs outlined for the toolbox, the proposal also includes a Bad Actor Program to add further accountability to music venues in violation of established ordinances. The program "includes specific penalties, up to and including revocation of OMV licenses, for venues that repeatedly violate their Sound Impact Plan or have a chronic pattern of citations for sound ordinance violations from APD."
The "toolbox" proposal now sits with City Council, pending approval (which could happen in December if it is included in the agenda). "Once City Council approves this resolution," Houlihan says, "AMP looks forward to working with City staff to develop and implement these programs as soon as possible."
It's a next step in securing Austin's identity as the Live Music Capital of the World.
For more information about Austin Music People, visit the organization's website.