Perform and prepare
Austin leaders and Sims Foundation band together for 'Safer Together' benefit show
Austin is certainly proud of its music scene, but the music industry requires more care than it gets in many areas. One public health issue it disproportionately faces, both in the Live Music Capital and anywhere else, is one of the hardest to address: overdose deaths.
Due to stigma and underestimating the danger of seemingly known substances, it can be difficult to get through to individuals at risk for a preventable drug death, especially from a place of authority like the Travis County District Attorney. The Sims Foundation, Austin’s leading group for protecting mental health within the music industry, is leveraging its reach to rejoin D.A. José Garza’s office in producing the second annual “Safer Together: Overdose Prevention & Harm Reduction Saves Lives,” a free benefit concert raising both awareness and funds for the foundation.
“Safer Together,” also in collaboration with the Red River Cultural District (RRCD), is returning on Thursday, December 1 at Mohawk, where six local acts join the cause on one bill. (In 2021, the concerts were spread between Mohawk, the Green Jay, and Empire Control Room.) Night Drive, Trouble in the Streets, and Holy Wire will play outside, while The Pinky Rings, Hotmom, and Sad Cell play inside. Garza will also be at the venue to give opening remarks.
“Together as leaders, community-based health experts, musicians, venue owners, and small businesses who have been touched by this crisis we hope events like ‘Safer Together’ open conversations and action towards removing the stigmas and creating a pathway for change,” said RRCD’s interim executive director Nicole Klepadlo. “We're proud to work alongside our partners, appreciate our musicians and venue hosts, and encourage our community to donate to this important cause.”
In 2021, Travis County dealt with more than 300 overdose deaths, up more than 25% from two years before. It looks like 2022 is following the same trajectory, or perhaps a worse one. The county “saw overdose deaths double in the first six months of 2022 alone compared with 2021,” according to a release.
“We must continue to treat substance abuse disorder as the public health issue it is in order to prevent overdose-related deaths and keep our community safe,” said Garza in a release. “This includes community-based strategies and campaigns that increase public awareness and connect our most vulnerable communities with life-saving resources. We look forward to partnering with local leaders and non-profits to save lives in our community.”
In addition to its broader efforts in mental health, the Sims Foundation offers solutions in both addiction treatment and overdose prevention. These span counseling, vigorous medical treatment like detoxes and outpatient programs, and venue training including instruction on using naloxone to temporarily reverse an overdose. The latter training is offered with guidance from Communities for Recovery, and the Sims Foundation’s goal for funds raised is to provide more of these in the near future.
Donations will be accepted at the door (8 pm), and 100% of proceeds will be donated to the Sims Foundation. Fans at home can text SIMS to 44321 or visit simsfoundation.org to make a donation before the show.