A legendary South Congress Avenue blues club and an East Austin rock joint received more coronavirus pandemic relief from the city than any other venue, according to a city document.
In late August, there was an outcry from Austin music advocates who felt the city had not done enough to support music venues, following the release of grant money from two COVID-19 disaster relief funds. At the time, city officials said relief money had been awarded to 28 music venues, but they did not release documentation revealing the recipients or award amounts.
At a Sept. 18 meeting of the Austin Music Commission, Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, deputy director of the city’s economic development department, gave a slide presentation that detailed the awards to music businesses from the Austin Small Business Relief Grant and Austin Creative Space Disaster Relief Fund.
(The American-Statesman on Aug. 20 requested a full list of the names of the recipients and their award amounts from both programs, but it has not received the information from the city as of this writing.)
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The Austin music venues that received the largest sums of grant money were the Continental Club and Hotel Vegas. The Continental Club received a $34,919.86 small business grant and $45,500 from the creative spaces fund. Hotel Vegas received a $33,193 small business grant and $30,601 from the creative spaces fund.
The Mohawk, Hole in the Wall, Antone's, Cheer Up Charlies, One-2-One Bar, the White Horse, Stay Gold, the Lost Well, the Belmont, Friends and the Venue ATX all received $40,000 or more from the two programs, with Parker Jazz Club just trailing that mark at $38,000.
Other venues that received money from the programs include Donn’s Depot (a $25,258.24 small business grant), Skylark Lounge ($26,208 from the creative spaces program), the Electric Church ($20,690 from the creative spaces program) and the North Door (a $15,240.85 small business grant).
In total, music venues received $370,749 from the creative spaces program and $401,979.14 from the small business grant, according to Holt-Rabb’s presentation.
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One venue that received relief money, the North Door, has since announced plans to close permanently. Another, One-2-One Bar, announced in August that it is planning to sell its business.
Prominent venues that applied for but did not receive funding from either of the grant programs include Flamingo Cantina and Saxon Pub. Some businesses that host live music might have been classified as restaurants in their small business grant applications.
Holt-Rabb’s presentation also provided a broad look at awards from the Creative Worker Relief Grant, which provided $3,343,000 to individuals in creative industries whose livelihoods have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. There were 5,502 applications for the grant, with 1,866 selected for awards. Of the awards, 42% went to workers in the music industry, followed by 11% in television and film and 8% in theater arts.