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UPDATE:

Organizers have extended data collection for the Greater Austin Music Census through September 9. Daily responses are becoming more frequent as the project gains traction. As of August 15, 68% of respondents completed all requested sections and provided additional comments.

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Delayed from its planned June 20 release for final tweaks, the Greater Austin Area Music Census is now off to record the needs of local industry professionals. From July 15 to August 15, it will collect information anonymously, to establish new community data for the first time in seven years.

The census is conducted via online form, and is available to any self-described music professionals in Travis and surrounding counties, including musicians, venue owners, nonprofits, government agency members, and anyone with a role “in any music-related product or service industry.” Fans are the only group that the platform requests do not apply, along with a friendly note of thanks. (The 2015 census removed nearly a third of final responses, which it deemed not eligible or incomplete.)

The last music census laid out a 235-page analysis with the majority of responses (60 percent) being from musicians. As in many discussions, even now, about musicians’ experience in the Live Music Capital, it focused largely on income and affordability. It confirmed that the majority of musicians earn under both the average and median wages for Austinites in general.

Still, most (60 percent) had been living in Austin for 11 years or more, sparking a growing question in Austin cultural media: what exactly is keeping musicians here? Pause/Play — a local NPR podcast that seeks input from local music professionals and could be considered an unofficial census of its own — has tackled this question in the past year with episodes focused on housing, supplemental income, and government funds. Like the podcast, the census is more focused on tracking values within the industry than identifying solutions at this stage.

"Since nobody had really done a census of that sort in 2015, we needed to establish some baseline understandings," says Long Center vice president of programs and community outreach Bobby Garza, who helped organize the census. "We know more than we used to, especially with the help of the first census and the ongoing conversations that it sparked. We want to know some variations of those similar questions to see how much progress we've made and see what part still needs to be done."

This announcement comes from the office of Mayor Steve Adler, Pause/Play co-parent station KUTX, and equity nonprofit EQ Austin. For help gathering participants, the polling organizations have enlisted more than 50 community partners including the organization implementing the data collection, Sound Music Cities.

Other partners also include organizations commonly seen in these pro bono spaces such as the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, the SIMS Foundation, Black Fret, the Long Center, and the Recording Academy Texas Chapter. Others still are much smaller organizations, and the organizers are still accepting inquiries about new partnerships. Just as the data collection has been a community effort, there is no one organization tasked with implementing solutions once the data has been analyzed.

"I hope that this generates community conversations like it did last time," says Garza. "It's incumbent upon all of us to come [together] and think about what the solutions are ... so we can have some self determination. I think that's the best part. And then I think that the hope is that leaders will hear us...from an economic development perspective and from a city policy perspective."

To complete the survey between July 15 and August 15, visit austinmusiccensus.org.

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Austin clocks in as the 4th fastest-growing city for freelancers

Free, indeed

Visitors to Zilker Park on an early Tuesday afternoon probably have to stop and wonder where all these people are coming from. Don’t they have work to do?

Maybe they do, but on their own schedules. Fiverr, a marketplace for connecting freelancers and new clients, released its fifth annual Freelance Economic Impact Report, ranking Austin as the fourth fastest-growing city for freelancers.

According to the report, Austin's 77,262-person independent workforce earned $3.4 billion in 2021, compared to the city's pool of approximately 57,000 independent workers who made $2.3 billion in 2016. The city ranked 17th for size and 16th for revenue of its independent workforce compared to other cities nationwide.

Despite Austin’s artistic proclivities (and how often artists are driven into the gig economy, like it or not), creatives represented the smallest portion (14.2 percent) of the city’s freelance revenue last year. Skilled professional services made up the largest portion (46 percent), followed by skilled technical services (39.7 percent).

It’s not just that creatives are making less money, they are also the smallest category present in Austin’s independent workforce.

Two other Texas cities appear among the 10 fastest-growing: Dallas, No. 8, and Houston, No. 10. In 2021, about 177, 500 workers in Dallas made $7.6 billion, while about 144,000 workers in Houston made $6.6 billion. This means per-capita revenue was similar in all three top-10 Texas cities, with Houston leading (around $46,000), and Austin and Dallas trailing very close together (around $44,000 and $43,000, respectively).

Joining the Austin, Dallas, and Houston in the top 10 were:

1. Orlando, Florida
2. Nashville, Tennessee
3. Miami, Florida
5. Tampa, Florida
6. Las Vegas, Nevada
7. Charlotte, North Carolina
9. Portland, Oregon

Although on the surface the report focuses on geography, it collected data that shows eight out of 10 freelancers believe they can live anywhere and work anytime. However, fewer than half reported that it was “a primary factor” in becoming freelancers, and a third said that work was “a primary influence” in their choice of location.

Most important, 70 percent of respondents said they were “highly satisfied” with working independently.

AfroTech

Nation’s largest event for Black tech entrepreneurs plugs into Austin this fall

Digital diversity

An annual conference for Black tech entrepreneurs — the largest in the country — is relocating from the West Coast to Austin.

AfroTech 2022 is set for November 13-17 at the Austin Convention Center and nearby venues. The annual event attracts more than 20,000 attendees.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers switched AfroTech from an in-person event to a virtual event in 2020 and 2021. Before the pandemic, the San Francisco Bay Area played host to the conference. The first AfroTech event took place in 2016.

Morgan DeBaun, founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based tech and media company Blavity, which stages AfroTech, says she and her team were searching “for a host city that is accessible to our diverse audience and provides the infrastructure for the vibrant experiences and connection we craft for our attendees. Austin is that home.”

“I can’t wait to see everyone in person in November,” she continues, “to learn, make connections, and revel in the Black excellence that has become a hallmark of our AfroTech experiences.”

AfroTech seeks to highlight an often-overlooked share of the population.

Tickets for the Austin event are on sale now.

Black Americans continue to be underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and math sector. According to the Pew Research Center, Black workers account for only 9 percent of the country’s STEM workforce but 11 percent of the entire workforce.

“Black and Hispanic adults are less likely to earn degrees in STEM than other degree fields, and they continue to make up a lower share of STEM graduates relative to their share of the adult population,” Pew says.

Austin-based Indeed works up new $10 million program to help Americans find jobs

Employing a new strategy

Austin-based job website Indeed has kicked off a $10 million program aimed at assisting Americans who are struggling to find work.

The Essentials to Work initiative will help job seekers in the U.S. gain access to technology and transportation, as well as access to services that clear criminal records.

Half of the money, or $5 million, is going toward a partnership with the nonprofit PCs for People to provide electronic devices, connect public housing properties to Wi-Fi, and set up mobile hot spots for 10,000 lower-income people. Organizations like Austin Free-Net and Refugee Services of Texas are distributing the electronic devices at no cost to recipients.

In addition, Indeed has pledged $2.5 million to provide services for job seekers who have previous arrests or convictions that are eligible to be removed from their criminal records. The Texas Fair Defense Project is among the beneficiaries of this money.

Indeed also is chipping in $1.5 million for a Lyft program to provide free rides to people for job interviews, job training, and other work-related purposes.

The remaining $1 million is being earmarked for Goodwill’s ongoing efforts to help job seekers.

Indeed’s Essentials to Work program also will enable job seekers to create accounts, produce resumes, and complete interviews through the job website.

“Job seekers struggling economically need high-quality work options now, and Indeed can help — that’s what we do,” Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, senior director of global community impact at Indeed, says in a news release. “We know that there are a myriad of barriers that can make finding quality work difficult. While the barriers we are tackling here — access to the internet, transportation, and legal help for criminal record clearing — are only a few of them, they affect far too many people. We want to help.”

Alamo Drafthouse workers at flagship Austin location announce new union

remember the alamo employees

KVUE — Workers at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on South Lamar Boulevard have unionized and are now asking management to recognize the union, according to a release from Industrial Workers of the World.

The union, called Drafthouse United, submitted the recognition request on Monday, February 14 along with a list of workplace improvements union members wish to see implemented. Key requests, per the release, include wage and benefit increases, paid sick leave, transparency regarding COVID-19 practices and polices, and a fix to building maintenance requests.

Alamo locations in other states are mandated to pay their employees higher wages, but we are consistently one of the most profitable Drafthouses in the company. … We pay for the company to open new locations while ours is falling apart,” server Zach Corpstein said in the release.

Several other current and former employees shared statements echoing similar sentiments regarding the cinema’s handling of the pandemic. In a letter explaining why workers are unionizing, Corpstein said management initially implemented health and safety guidelines for workers and customers, but that those guidelines were quietly rescinded over time without telling employees or customers.

He also addressed staffing issues brought about due to low pay and “churning new employees through training quickly and throwing them into situations normally reserved for veterans.”

“Our aim in unionizing is not to submit a list of demands to Alamo Drafthouse’s corporate offices, but one of proposed solutions so that we can work together to create a better future,” Corpstein said.

Former Austin City Council member and congressional candidate Greg Casar tweeted his support for the group on Tuesday night.

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Continue reading this story and watch the video on KVUE.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Mobile vet company brings its no-rush, stress-free services to Austin homes

Home Is Where the Vet Is

Austin, one of the largest no-kill shelter cities in the United States, already knows a lot about adopting instead of shopping. A puppy is a wonderful addition to the family, but senior dogs need love (and are loved), too. As many have learned firsthand, taking care of a senior pet can be challenging — with higher medical bills, potentially heavy lifting as joints stiffen, and tough decisions to make about what kind of care is necessary — but also incredibly rewarding.

November is National Senior Pet Health Month, calling for awareness about an older pet’s needs, and providing opportunities to celebrate wins all over local news. In Austin, one of those wins came in scrubs. The Vets, a mobile veterinary service that makes house calls, expanded into Austin in 2022 (after launching the year prior), eventually bringing the national count to 16 locations including Houston and Dallas. Texas and California are tied for the most locations, at three each.

“Among the top reasons that pet owners avoid or postpone their visit to the vet clinic include the stress of transporting their pet, restrictive pet carriers, and crowded waiting rooms,” explained a statement from the company. “Our no-rush visits give your pet the time to bond with our vet and you the opportunity to ask questions. And you always have the option to rebook the same vet to help grow that special relationship over time.”

This team provides care for every stage in a pet’s life, and most of their needs, too; that’s everything from routine wellness exams, microchipping, nutrition consulting, and even emergency services including those with specialized equipment like ultrasound machines. When the time comes to ease a pet’s end-of-life transition, the team also offers at-home euthanasia, dramatically reducing stress for both pets and people who don’t want a sterile environment or a tearful drive home.

The American Veterinary Medical Association lists many needs for senior pets, including increased medical care, vaccinations, and pet parents that are observant about environmental concerns like house structure and stimulation. With a home vet, pet owners might consider asking for opinions on how to streamline some of these interactions, without having to worry about having to write notes, try to remember potential issues in the space, or miss any important details a professional would see right away.

A good vet can make animals comfortable no matter what, but The Vets emphasizes the stronger relationships that its team can build in a comfortable, stress-free environment. In addition to a more convenient and comfortable experience, this can also mean better care for a pet that doesn’t have an entire puppyhood to adjust.

More information about The Vets, including scheduling, is available at thevets.com.

Austin-area pig rescue wins Airbnb contest to build one-of-a-kind pig-themed guest house

This Place is a Pigsty

KVUE — From tens of thousands of entries from around the world, 100 aspiring designers, architects, DIYers, and makers from more than 20 countries and regions have been chosen to bring their unique space ideas to life as part of the $10,000,000 Airbnb OMG! Fund.

One of those winners is Tracey Stabile, director of the Central Texas Pig Rescue (CTPR) in Austin. Tracey and Dan Illescas, founders of Central Texas Pig Rescue, will receive up to $100,000 to create a one-of-a-kind pig-shaped guest space. Over the course of the next 10 months, they will design, construct, and outfit the space to be guest-ready by summer 2023.

"Basically the OMG! Fund contest was a way for people to be really playful and kind of invent a really cool dwelling that would be something that's totally notable to people and be a destination," said Stabile.

Stabile said Airbnb left all of the freedom of creativity up to them. They went through several rounds of design and planning and review.

"Each step of the way, we were like, 'We're one step closer.' It was very exciting. Just getting those emails at each milestone and seeing that we were actually contenders in this contest. Then the fact that we, of course, won and now we're going to be able to build this amazing thing that we absolutely never would have been able to build under other circumstances. It's just an amazing opportunity," stated Stabile.

Stabile said she wanted to build something that was a little bit unpredictable and wanted to avoid some of the shapes that people might expect. The current pig sanctuary in Smithville, about 45 minutes outside of Austin, is home to over 200 pigs that were saved from abandonment. The sanctuary houses a mix of all different types of pigs, mostly potbellied pigs, and is 100 percent volunteer run and 100 percent donation based.

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Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Texas state parks beckon this holiday season with festive events and peaceful escapes

Silent nights

If roasting s'mores and hiking in the great outdoors sounds fun, pack up your family and visit one of Texas’ state parks this holiday season.

Texas state parks and historic sites are ringing in the holidays with a number of festive events. There are drive-thru light tours, special holiday hikes, arts and crafts for the kiddos, and more.

Reservations fill up quickly, so be sure to visit an individual park's website before you head out. And check the Holidays in the Parks page for many more fun options, pricing information, and more information.

Austin/San Antonio-area parks

Bastrop State Park
Follow ornaments with clues through the park every day in December during the annual Fa La La Through The Forest Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy the Lost Pines Christmas Parade, a collaborative event with Bastrop and Buescher Parks, at 6 pm December 10. Tour the inside of the historic Refectory and see how the Civilian Conservation Corps celebrated Christmas away from home during A Lost Pines CCC Christmas 9 am-12 pm December 17.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site
Visit the popular attraction during December to learn how the farm staff get ready for das Weihnachten (Christmas). Return to the park at 5:30 pm December 18 for the 53rd Annual Tree Lighting, a holiday tradition started by President and Mrs. Johnson.

Garner State Park
Join the Buffalo Soldiers program and friends as they stop into Garner State Park before leaving for Christmas break during the Marching Towards Christmas event 10 am-2 pm December 10. Christmas activities will include hand-dipped candles, frontier Christmas painting, Christmas-themed hard tack in Dutch ovens, and stories of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buescher State Park
On the Fa La La in the Forest Scavenger Hunt, you can follow ornaments with clues through the park to secure a prize at the end, December 1 to January 1. Enjoy the Smithville Festival of Lights and Lighted Parade, a collaborative effort between Buescher and Bastrop parks, on December 3.

Hill Country State Natural Area
See how art, history and state parks are connected; learn some basic watercolor techniques and paint a card or two to take home during the Watercolor Christmas Cards event 2:30-4 pm December 3. Come back for Horses in History & Ornament Craft from 2:30-4 pm December 22 and learn how horses played important roles in the lives of vaqueros, native people, ranchers and more. Then, play a round of horseshoes and paint a horse ornament to take with you.

South Llano River State Park
At Christmas at the Ranch, 2-5 pm December 3, guests can warm up with hot chocolate and cider, listen to live entertainment, enjoy crafts and cookie decorating, and anticipate Santa's visit while taking in the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations at the historic Ranch House that now serves as Park Headquarters.

Dallas-Fort Worth-area parks

Tyler State Park
Enjoy Reading Ranger Campfire Stories around a cozy campfire at 3 pm December 3. Head back December 9-10 for A Pineywoods Christmas, when you can stroll or drive through the Lakeview and Big Pine campgrounds to take in campers' elaborately decorated sites and take a Winter Wonderland Hike.

Lake Tawakoni State Park
Drive through or stay at the park and decorate your campsite with your favorite Christmas decorations to receive your second night of camping free during your stay. There will be a decorating contest, complete with awards, as well as a reading of The Night before Christmas — all part of Twinkle Tour 2022, 5-8 pm December 3.

Daingerfield State Park
Drive through the park lit up like Santa Land during the 10th annual Christmas in the Park drive thru lights tour December 14-17 (times vary). Marvel at the decorated campsites and lights, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for a chance to visit with Santa.

Eisenhower State Park
Help those in need and spread holiday cheer — and as a bonus, get free entry to the park — by bringing one unwrapped donation item to the park’s Holiday Donation Drive through December 19. Visit December 9-10 to visit the Light Up the Park drive-thru lights event, featuring milk and cookies with Santa. This year, the park is taking unwrapped toys to donate instead of collecting entrance fees for the event.

Cleburne State Park
Enjoy Pancakes With Santa and make pinecone bird feeders 9-11 am December 10.

Cedar Hill State Park
Search for birds taking their winter break at the park during their Winter Birding Walk, which takes place 7:30-8:30 am December 13. Explore Christmas on Penn Farm on December 17: Learn about the history and pioneers of the Penn Family and the farm they built 150 years ago.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Experience Christmas, cowboy style, at Cross Timbers Cowboy Christmas, December 3. Park ranger and cowboy poet David Owens will gather guests around a campfire at the Lone Star Amphitheater for an evening of cowboy culture through songs, stories and poems.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
In partnership with Toys for Tots, the park is hosting Christmas in the Valley, a full day of ranger-led events, programs, family friendly activities, arts and crafts, food and more. Bring a new and unwrapped toy for free admission for the whole family. The event takes place 1-4 pm December 17.

Houston and Gulf Coast-area parks

Brazos Bend State Park
Holiday in the Park is an all-day affair on December 10. Events include a self-guided "Elf Hike," Christmas crafts, "Pup Parade," s'mores, and more.

Goose Island State Park
See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and camp for free when you decorate your campsite during Christmas in the Park on December 17. Guests are invited to "Santa's Village" at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Get in the holiday spirit with the second annual Holiday Light Drive Thru, 6-9 pm December 10. Visitors can enter the park for a drive through the lighted areas of Javelina and Opossum Bend camping loops, plus the Old Pavilion.

West Texas and the Panhandle-area parks

Franklin Mountains State Park
On December 3, make ornaments and holiday cards with recycled materials as part of the Art in the Parks series. During Cookies and Cocoa, you can decorate and take home your own Christmas treat while sipping on a cup of hot chocolate 2-4 pm December 23. Come back on Christmas Eve for a guided, two-mile Santa Hike at 11 am.

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
Bring your family out for Home for the Holidays guided family hike on December 10 and moderate hike on December 17.

San Angelo State Park
Enjoy a drive-thru tour of lights and optional pictures with Santa and Smokey Bear during Holly-Days in the Park, 6-8 pm December 10.