As the self-described “Live Music Capital of the World” Austin enjoys a reputation of being one of the most desirable places to live in the country. But, that reputation is currently in jeopardy. As the Executive Director of Ballet Austin and HousingWorks Board member Cookie Ruiz says, “Our city is proud of its innovation, live music and creativity, but the growing reality is that many of our working artists/creatives are among those severely impacted by Austin’s affordability crisis.” As a result, many creatives have begun leaving Austin, according to the Austin Music Census published in 2015. Read more on that below.
There is still time for Austin to reverse this trend, but first we have to recognize the value of taking action. Dave Sullivan of Austin’s Bond Oversight Committee puts it this way: “Most people get that there is a benefit to the community that we help find housing for teachers and other folks who care for our young, public safety personnel, seniors on fixed incomes, among others. Furthermore, I would remind folks that some people who provide quality to our lives and play a critical role in the local economy are the many artists and musicians among us, a large number of whom have low incomes and significant housing needs. It is very important that we include some homes for artists in our GO-funded housing initiatives.”
That’s exactly what Foundation Communities has done, setting aside five apartments for members of the creative community at its new bond-funded apartment building on South Lamar, Bluebonnet Studios. One of the lucky recipients of an affordable apartment at Bluebonnet was James Shelton, a steel guitar player aficianado. Click below to watch his Keep Austin Affordable story.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE NEED TO SUPPORT AUSTIN CREATIVES
Austin Music Census/ Executive Summary, page 9: “Analysis of the income data from the 1,882 musicians who answered survey income questions illustrates why this issue appears to be urgent to musicians: nearly one third of them are earning $15,000 or less per year in pre-tax income (including all income sources), and approximately three-fourths of them are earning below the Austin MSA Mean Annual Wage.”
Austin Music Census/ Executive Summary, page 9: “Downtown development of relatively expensive condos and apartments are pushing low and middle-income artists and industry workers further out of the central City core. There is some indication that musicians are beginning to move out of Austin altogether due to the cumulative effect of affordability issues.