Austin's parks benefit from ACL Fest
Michael Barnes, Out & About
Lost among the hoopla at the Austin City Limits Music Festival last weekend was one special beneficiary of the gargantuan event.
The Austin Parks Foundation has used $500,000 in donations from the fest to fund park improvements. That's no small amount, given government cuts and the challenges of keeping up Austin's vast park, preserve and trail system.
The foundation strongly backs public/private partnerships and lobbied to create a staff position at Austin Parks and Recreation to speed up those collaborations.
That proposal was formally pushed by Austin City Council Member Sheryl Cole last week. She was among those who gathered last week at Republic Square Park, in part to recognize the ACL Fest contributions.
Also present were Austin City Council Member Chris Riley, Austin Parks Foundation President Jill Nokes and Trail Foundation Executive Director Susan Rankin, who is still raising money for the boardwalk that will unite East and West Austin along Lady Bird Lake.
One needs no excuse to toast Cliff Redd.Set aside the fact that the man raised tens of millions of dollars to build the Long Center. And that he brought together fractious individuals and groups to get it done. Earning his angel's wings, he gracefully moved over to a development job at the University of Texas when his time at the center was done.
Socially fearless, he knows just about everyone of consequence in four Texas cities (Houston, Dallas, Austin and Galveston). It starts with a laugh and a hug and it ends ... where does it end? Almost everyone who is remotely open to the possibility becomes a Friend of Cliff. I count myself as one.
No wonder the Long Center has renamed a fundraising campaign after him — the Redd Carpet Fund — meant to subsidize the small performing arts groups that use the Rollins Studio Theatre at the center. It would take something on the order of $1 million a year to make the Rollins absolutely free to small, indigenous groups, said center board member Wendi Kushner at the Redd Carpet launch event last week.
The changes are subtle. The less practiced eye might not even notice the added seats and tables in the bar area, the new chairs and curtains in the grill, the carpets that match the Driskill Hotel's Western Baroque style. Yet they remind us that Austin's oldest hotel must compete with other luxury hotel brands downtown.
The changes came at the hotel's northern entrance onto East Seventh Street. Food bloggers and others gathered for a small, expertly catered party to learn more about the visual changes, but also the renovation of Executive Chef Jonathan Gelman's menu.
Snacking daintily at my coffee table were Austin Wine Guy Rob Moshein, Driskill corporate events director Donaji Lira, freelance writer Lynne Margolis and Tribeza senior account executive Ashley Beall.
Lira seems to have landed quite nicely on her feet after leaving the Wine and Food Foundation of Texas, so the Driskill staff continues to grow in stature.