City announces grant program to help with high costs of Austin arts and music space

For-profit live music venues are eligible too for $750,000 in available grant funding to help defray rent hikes, property acquisition costs, or other space-related needs.

Site of the demolished Off Center, the warehouse theater occupied by the Rude Mechanicals from 1999 to 2017. Photo by Hannah Kenah/Rude Mechanicals.

The city’s Cultural Arts and Music & Entertainment divisions have joined together to launch a new funding initiative that is aimed at helping arts and music groups tackle Austin’s ever-increasing rent and real estates costs.

The new Creative Space Assistance Program (CSAP) has $750,000 in available funding.  Organizations may apply for a financial assistance grant of up to $50,000 to defray rent hikes, property acquisition costs, or other space-related needs.

And it’s not just arts-focused nonprofits that are eligible for the new city grants. CSAP funding is also available to for-profit live music venues, performance spaces and art galleries.

According to the program’s language, priority will be given to non-profit and for-profit “creative organizations facing permanent displacement, those previously displaced, or those facing lease renewals at substantially higher rates amidst a volatile real estate market.”

Read: “New city survey finds more than 50 percent of Austin artists have considered leaving”

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The city will use a review committee comprised of public and private sector leaders in the arts, banking, and real estate sectors to evaluate the applications and make final recommendations.

CSAP derives from the 2016 Austin Music & Creative Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution which identified lack of affordable space for artists as a priority concern. A pilot version launched in 2017 called ASAP, or Arts Space Assistance Program. ASAP had $200,000 in one-time funding available in grants for tenant improvement project or rent stipends. In Sept. 2017, the arts groups received funding from ASAP:

  • VORTEX Repertory Co.
  • Imagine Art
  • Latinitas
  • Austin School of Film
  • Tapestry Dance Company
  • Rude Mechanicals
  • Pump Project
  • Ballet Afrique
  • Austin Visual Arts Association
  • Creative Reuse
  • Dimension Gallery
  • Conspirare

The deadline to submit eligibility requirements for CSAP is March 29. Complete program guidelines, including eligibility requirements, may be accessed at https://bit.ly/2NJujJT. Applications for the CSAP program is available at https://bit.ly/2EMEQ3W.

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