Music and Creative Space Grant Program Application Dates

The City of Austin Economic Development Department announced two grant programs to support and sustain local creatives and organizations facing extreme hardships due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic: the Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund ($1.5 million in $1000 grants) for immediate emergency needs of Austin’s most vulnerable musicians and the Austin Creative Space Disaster Relief Program ($1 million in $50,000 grants) for organizations and independent artists facing displacement and difficulty paying rent for their commercial creative spaces. Details and application dates are below.

Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund
The Austin City Council approved Ordinance No. 20200423-067 on April 23, 2020 to designate $1.5 million for the Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund. Musicians that experienced an economic hardship due to COVID-19 may apply for a $1,000 grant to cover immediate emergency needs. The Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund application will be live and accepting eligible submissions through the MusiCares Foundation on a first-come first-served basis starting on Monday, June 8th, 10am CST. Austin musicians are encouraged to prepare their answers and documentation in advance by reviewing the checklist prior to the launch date. Visit to preview program guidelines, eligibility requirements, and a checklist of application questions.

As part of an existing partnership with the City of Austin, the Austin Music Foundation will provide consultation to potential applicants needing help preparing documentation for the application. City staff is also working with additional local community organizations and music industry leaders to help promote the Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund. These efforts will ensure the most vulnerable musicians are aware of the opportunity and are prepared to apply once the application is live June 8.

These limited dollars are focused on the most vulnerable musicians in Austin, defined as those with two months or less in living expenses currently available. Those not eligible to apply are encouraged to connect with helpful resources and opportunities at Austin musicians who have already received a grant from the “MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund” are not eligible to apply.

Application Preview: Wednesday, May 27 – Sunday, June 7
Application Opens: Monday, June 8, 10:00 a.m. CST
Application Closes: Friday, June 12, 2020, 5:00 p.m. CST

For more information, including guidelines and eligibility questions, visit or email or call 512-978-7769.

Austin Creative Space Disaster Relief Program
The Austin City Council approved Resolution No. 20200423-040 on April 23, 2020 to provide $1 million for the Austin Creative Space Disaster Relief Program. This grant will provide direct support to for-profit live music venues, performance spaces, art galleries, arts-focused nonprofits and individual artists facing temporary or permanent displacement.

Applicants may apply for up to $50,000 toward unpaid commercial rent and to defray rent hikes, property acquisition costs, or other space-related needs such as facility improvements or relocation-related expenditures. A Grant Review Committee comprised of public and private sector leaders in the arts, banking, and real estate sectors established by a Joint Working Group of the Music and Arts Commissions will evaluate the applications and make final recommendations for awards. The grants will be awarded on a competitive basis, and priority will be given to organizations or individuals confronting immediate and critical needs. Organizations serving historically underrepresented communities are encouraged to apply.

Application Opens: Wednesday, May 27, 2020 1:00 p.m. CST
Virtual Information Meeting: Tuesday, June 9, 2020, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. CST
Application Closes: Wednesday, June 17, 2020, 5:00 p.m. CST
Grant Awardees Announced: Week of June 29, 2020

For more information, including guidelines and eligibility visit or email or call 512-974-7806.

Texas Governor Announces Phase 2 of Opening Texas

Governor Abbott today announced Phase 2 of his Open Texas plan. Under Phase 2, restaurants may increase their occupancy to 50% beginning May 22 and additional services and activities may open with restricted occupancy levels and minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). This includes child care centers, massage and personal-care centers and youth clubs on May 18 and bars, bingo halls, skating rinks and bowling halls on May 22 followed by youth camps, youth sports and certain professional sports on May 31.

Additionally, the Governor announced that public schools in Texas have the option to provide in-person summer school so long as they follow social distancing practices and health protocols laid out by DSHS. These classes may begin as soon as June 1st.

A full list of business types and dates for reopening and minimum standard health protocols is available here.

New Color Coded Risk Guidelines

From the City of Austin: Austin Public Health (APH) has published a color-coded chart to help residents of Austin-Travis County understand the stages of risk and provide recommendations on what people should do to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new risk-based guidelines set out five distinct stages of risk, from the lowest threat, Stage 1, through the most serious, Stage 5, along with recommended behaviors for each stage. View the Risk-Based Guidelines HERE.

Based on an assessment using provisional modeling, Austin Public Health currently considers Austin-Travis County to be in the Stage 3 risk category.

For lower-risk individuals, defined as those with no substantial underlying health conditions who have a lower risk of complication and death from COVID-19, the recommendations are as follows:

Stage 1: Practice good hygiene, stay home if sick, and avoid other people who are sick. APH is working on recommendations for maximum sizes of gatherings. Individuals are advised they are safe to return to work at all businesses.
Stage 2: Includes the recommendations for Stage 1 and adds: Maintain social distancing and wear fabric face coverings in public. Individuals are urged to avoid dining and shopping except with precautions, and to avoid gathering in groups of more than 25 people. They are advised they are safe to return to work at essential and reopened businesses.
Stage 3: Includes the recommendations for Stage 2 and also urges individuals to avoid non-essential travel, all social gatherings, and any gatherings of more than 10 people.
Stage 4: Includes the recommendations for Stage 3 and advises individuals they are safe to return to work, and dine and shop, only at “expanded essential businesses”. This category will be defined shortly.
Stage 5: Includes the recommendations for Stage 4 and urges individuals to avoid all gatherings outside of the household and avoid dining and shopping except as essential. In this stage it is considered safe to return to work at essential businesses only.

APH is currently exploring the most effective indicators to help determine the level of risk in the local community. Provisional triggers are being modeled based on the number of hospitalizations because of their general correlation with numbers of cases, use of ventilators, deaths, and availability of effective treatment and vaccination.  While the new guidelines are primarily designed as a resource to help individuals modify their behavior to protect themselves and others against transmission of COVID-19, they will also be used to inform APH recommendations around when restrictions on gatherings, business operations, and events should be loosened or tightened in the months ahead.

By encouraging a cautious, phased approach to normalizing activity, underpinned by medical data, APH hopes to minimize the risk of a further spike in transmissions that would cause further economic disruption and hardship to the community.
Risk Based Guidelines – FINAL(1)
For additional information and updates, visit

Austin’s Stay Home-Work Safe Order Extended

On May 8th, Travis County Judge Eckhardt and Mayor Steve Adler extended the Stay Home-Work Safe orders. The City’s orders (Stay Home Work Safe Order Extension) are in place through May 30th, 2020. From the Mayor’s office, here is some important information about the extended orders:

• Stay home except for essential activities, essential businesses, and services reopened by the Governor’s Order GA-21
• Face coverings are required when outside your home if you’re over 6 years old, with some exceptions
• Do not gather with people outside of your household. Non-essential businesses and non-essential activities including social gatherings are not allowed, with some exceptions
• Continue to practice excellent hygiene. Keep a 6 feet physical distance between you and members outside your household, wear a face covering, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, and disinfect frequently touched services.

The number of confirmed cases in Austin and Travis County is now 2071, up from 1683 last Friday. For more city resources relating to COVID-19, visit Free testing for the public is now available. You can take the self-assessment to register here.

Businesses May Open With Limited Capacity May 1

On Monday, Governor Greg Abbott announced that he will let Texas’ stay-at-home order expire as scheduled on April 30th, paving the way for businesses to begin reopening in phases. Beginning May 1, retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls will be allowed to open but will be held to 25% capacity. Efforts to keep everyone as safe as possible include policies for business owners, employees and consumers alike. Business owners may choose to open with these lowered capacity guidelines in place or stay closed until a later date.

Individuals, employers, employees, and customers are encouraged to review, print out, and follow the minimum health protocols recommended by Department of State Health Services included in the Governor’s Report to Open Texas linked here: OpenTexas-Report(1). The checklist for all employers and specific facility guidelines for retail and restaurant facilities is below. Please see complete text here.

The Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) resumed accepting new applications this week with an additional $310 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses. If you have not already, loan applications should be submitted as soon as possible. Loan applications are being accepted by many financial institutions, including small and community owned banks.

Checklist for all employers:
Train all employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette.
Screen employees before coming into the business and send home any employee who has any of the following new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19. (listed in document)
Do not allow employees with the new or worsening signs or symptoms listed above to return to work until specific conditions outlined in document are met.
Have employees wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the business.
Have employees maintain at least 6 feet separation from other individuals. If such distancing is not feasible, other measures such as face covering, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness, and sanitation should be rigorously practiced.
If an employer provides a meal for employees, employers are recommended to have the meal individually packed for each employee.
Consistent with the actions taken by many employers across the state, consider having all employees wear cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth). If available, employees should consider wearing non-medical grade face masks.

Health protocols for general facilities:
Regularly and frequently clean and disinfect any regularly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, tables, chairs, and restrooms.
Disinfect any items that come into contact with customers.
Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant readily available to employees and customers.

Health protocols for your retail facilities:
Regularly and frequently clean and disinfect any regularly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, tables, chairs, and restrooms.
Disinfect any items that come into contact with customers.
Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant readily available to employees and customers.
Place readily visible signage at the retailer to remind everyone of best hygiene practices.

Health protocols for restaurant facilities:
Consider having an employee manage and control access to the restaurant, including opening doors to prevent patrons from touching door handles.
Regularly and frequently clean and disinfect any regularly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, tables, and chairs.
Regularly and frequently clean restrooms, and document the cleanings.
Disinfect any items that come into contact with customers.
Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant readily available to employees and customers.
Place readily visible signage at the restaurant to remind everyone of best hygiene practices.
Clean and disinfect the area used for dining (table, etc.) after each group of customers depart, including the disinfecting of tables, chairs, stalls, and countertops.
Clean and sanitize restaurants daily.
Place readily visible signage at the business to remind everyone of best hygiene practices.
The choice to open is yours. These policies may not work for all businesses but it is an opportunity for “non-essential” businesses to begin conducting business with customers “face to face”. To keep all of us as safe as possible, we urge you to strictly follow these guidelines.

An Open Letter to Landlords From Local Business

Dear Landlord,

We’ve been in this mutually-beneficial relationship for a long time, perhaps decades. It’s been good for both of us. We’ve had a place to grow successful local businesses and you’ve made a nice profit.

Now our businesses have an illness called a pandemic. It makes people sick and is sometimes fatal. To help curb this, we have been forced to shut down for an extended period of time. Even now, as we might partially reopen on a curbside and delivery basis, we struggle with the health and safety of employees and customers in addition to all the concerns of a dwindling bank account, federal and local assistance being slow to none, and the unknown future. We’ve had to reinvent ourselves in 10 days just to garner what little bit of business we can. As many in our community look at the numbers of diagnosed illnesses and fatalities of our citizens, we are also looking at the local business fatalities that aren’t included on the daily charts.

We’re intrepid entrepreneurs. So we try to plan for the future. A future that we hope includes you as our landlord. But we need some consideration here. Let’s revisit that mutually beneficial relationship. Work with us. Give us a few months of free or deferred rent. It could be a lifeline to save our business.

For local landlords working with their local business tenants, thank you. This will come back to you in loyal tenants for years.

For those landlords reluctant to give consideration, assess the effects of helping a local business tenant go bankrupt. Finding a new tenant is costly in the best of times, now it’s going to be very expensive because there will be no business expansion for some time to come. We’re all in survival mode. Your space will likely remain vacant for a year or more. What is the cost of that compared to offering a little assistance now?

We recognize that landlords are in business too, some small, some large. You, too, can apply for SBA loans. You, too, can furlough your employees so they can receive unemployment. This is not business as usual. That won’t return for some time. It will return to normal but who knows when? That’s what we all want. But normal means a community filled with thriving local businesses with successful landlords.

We’ve heard from many fronts that we’re all in this together. It’s true. Together means we help each other. If your heart and soul can’t make this leap, look to your bank account. It makes financial sense to work with your current tenant. Reach out to your tenant today and you’ll have a successful relationship for years to come.

Most Sincerely,
Local Business