Including Techs in the City of Austin Relief Funds

THE ISSUE

Though the City of Austin designated $1.5 million to the Austin Music Disaster relief fund through Ordinance No. 20200423-067, key industry workers–live event technicians–were not included in this fund. Production staff, including sound engineers, lighting designers, video engineers, and others, are integral to the success of live music performances. Production staff are often freelance and just as financially unstable as musicians. Like musicians and music venues, technicians need assistance to survive the pandemic.

WHAT WE DID

On June 8th, a letter was written to the Mayor of Austin, Steve Adler and Austin City Council to address the issue and ask that assistance not be limited to performers
and venues only.

We asked that the Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund be expanded to include production staff that live throughout the Greater Austin Area who regularly work in local venues, and contribute to Austin being recognized as the Live Music Capital of the World.

RESULTS

We have been seen and heard! Our petition to the City of Austin and subsequent visits with City staff have prompted the City to take action. They are extending the application deadline for the Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund and launching a new fund; the Creative Workers Grant opening on August 17, 2020. Not only will event technicians be included in this new grant, it will be for a higher dollar amount than the Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund and changes to the qualifying criteria will make it accessible to as many members of the creative community as possible.

Take a look at this statement:

Thank you for reaching out to the Music & Entertainment Division regarding feedback on the Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund. Your feedback is instrumental in helping the Economic Development Department in continuing to evolve in meeting the needs of the community we serve in the City of Austin’s relief efforts. I appreciate you taking the time to not only mobilize but to ensure that the voice of this stakeholder group, who are vital to the creative ecosystem, is heard. We will take this feedback and ensure that it is included in planning for future efforts.”

Stephanie Bergara, Artist & Industry Development, Music & Entertainment Division

This is a huge victory! To everyone who signed our petition, thank you for sharing your perspective with the city, and for encouraging others to sign.

The success of this campaign has clearly demonstrated the benefits of solidarity and representation for Austin’s live event technicians. It has inspired us–freelance entertainment workers and IATSE Local 205–to launch Seen and Heard ATX: Respect for Techs in the Live Music Capital of the World.

In these unprecedented times, it is now more important than ever for us to unite and demand livable wages, safe work spaces, and full employment status from the venues and companies that hire us. Without us, Austin’s entertainment-based economy would not thrive. It is from the fruits of our labors that Austin has become the Live Music Capital of the World. Let’s stand together to make our music community stronger, safer, and more sustainable!

LETTER

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