For 2020 Austin Creative Space Disaster Relief Program, please visit ATXrecovers.com for guidelines and application link. Application Closes: June 17, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. CST

The Economic Development Department’s June 2016 Response to the Music and Creative Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution (Resolution No. 20160303-019) targeted affordable space for artists and musicians as a priority. The City understands that preserving and increasing the supply of available and affordable space for creatives is dependent on community collaboration to assess existing space needs, predict future demand, and find ways to create more space options. The City plays an organizing role in a variety of tools for providing relief, including the Creative Space Assistance Program (CSAP).

The purpose of CSAP is to support creative organizations facing temporary or permanent displacement, were previously displaced, or facing lease renewals at substantially higher rates. The program is open to arts-focused nonprofits, as well as qualifying for-profit live music venues, performance spaces, and art galleries (see definitions below under Program Guidelines). The 2019 CSAP was funded at $750,000 and grants were made on a competitive basis and decided by authorized criteria laid out in the program guidelines, with priority given to organizations facing mounting space pressures.

Awards were evaluated and recommended by a community panel representing the arts, commercial music, and real estate / finance.

2019 Awardees:

2019 CSAP Update Memo to Austin City Council
*Dated September 23, 2019

  • Antone’s Nightclub LLC
  • Austin Book Arts Center
  • Austin Creative Reuse 
  • Austin School of Film DBA Motion Media Arts Center
  • Cheer Up Charlies LLC
  • Creative Action
  • First Street Studio
  • Flamingo Cantina   
  • Giddy Ups, LLC
  • Ground Floor Theatre
  • Heard Entertainment Texas, LLC
  • Icosa Gallery Collective
  • Imagine Art
  • Improv Productions, LLC    
  • Latinitas
  • MASS Gallery, Inc.
  • Mosaic Sound Collective
  • Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance
  • Rally in the Alley, LP    
  • Rude Mechanicals
  • Salvage Vanguard Theater
  • Santa Cruz Collective
  • The City Theatre Company
  • The Museum of Human Achievement        
  • Visions in Rhythm DBA Tapestry Dance Co.
  • VORTEX Repertory Co. 

2019 Grant Uses:

  • Rent Assistance
  • Gap Financing for Property Acquisition
  • Other Space-Related Needs
    • Facility Improvements
    • Predevelopment/Feasibility Plan
    • Displacement-Related Expenditures

Only one grant may be awarded per project and/or organization each funding cycle. Only organizations displaced and relocated (or facing this threat) since June 1, 2016, or those that are facing a lease renewal with substantially higher rates are eligible for grants. Priority is given to organizations confronting immediate and critical needs, and bonus points will be given to those who did not receive 2018 ASAP funding. Successful applicants to the CSAP program will commit to the following:

  • Technical Assistance: Agree to participate in technical assistance or other capacity building support provided by the City of Austin (for example, workshops related to business development, financial planning, etc.); AND
  • Job Retention: With receipt of these funds the organization will commit to maintain current employment levels, AND
  • Professional Development: Agree to participate in or host one professional development opportunity for the community (speaker, workshop, webinar, etc.), in partnership with the Economic Development Department, OR
  • Career Development: Agree to engage in career development opportunities with Austin Independent School District, other school districts operating in Austin, or other entities that provide information about career options for students in K-12.

2019 Grant Guidelines:

Visit CSAP Guidelines

2019 Eligibility Requirements:

Applicant must meet the following minimum criteria:

  • Nonprofit Applicants: The applicant must be designated as a 501(c)(3) per the Internal Revenue Code or State of Texas arts nonprofit organization in good standing.
  • For-Profit Applicants: The applicant must meet the Economic Development Department's definition of either a “Live Music Venue”, “Performance Venue / Theater”, or “Museum / Art Gallery”:
    • Live Music Venue: An establishment where live music programming is the principal function of the business and/or the business is a live music destination, and where the venue clearly establishes the ability of an artist to receive payment for work by percentage of sales, guarantee or other mutually beneficial formal agreement for every performance. A live music venue is a destination for live music consumers, and/or its music programming and is the primary driver of its business as indicated by the presence of at least five (5) of the following:
      • Defined performance and audience space;
      • Mixing desk, PA system, and lighting rig;
      • Back line
      • At least two of the following: (i) sound engineer, (ii) booker, (iii) promoter, (iv) stage manager, or (v) security personnel;
      • Charges cover charge to some music performance through ticketing or front door entrance fee;
      • Markets specific acts through show listings in printed and electronic publications;
      • Hours of operation coincide with performance times; or
      • Programs live music at least five nights a week.
    • Performance Venue / Theater: An establishment whose principal function and mission is to present live performances, plays, live music, film screenings, or other performances of artistic work produced by an artist, or arts and culture organization, accessible by public audiences.
    • Museum / Art Gallery: Facility whose principal function and mission is to exhibit, present, and/or sell artistic work in a variety of media produced by an artist, artist collective, or arts and culture organization, accessible by public audiences. (For the purposes of this program’s eligibility, this will not include City-run/owned, State-run/owned, or Federally-run/owned facilities.) 

Creative organizations composed of and/or serving historically underrepresented communities, such as ALAANA (African American, Latino, Asian American, Arab American, and Native American) communities, individuals with disabilities, and LGBTQIA are encouraged to apply.

An information meeting for the past 2019 program was held March 19 and March 25, 2019. A recorded video of the meeting includes detailed instructions on how to apply and a Q & A session about the 2019 process.

2019 Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: If I’ve already been displaced and am building out a new space, it that considered urgent?  Is urgency reflected in the scoring?

A:  Yes, scoring for urgency is found on page 4 of the CSAP guidelines.  The levels of urgency are scored in the following way:

  • Most urgent (15 points):  The applicant has already been displaced or needs to immediately relocate, renew a lease, or renovate to avoid displacement that is expected to take place within 6 months of application submission.
  • Urgent (10 points):  The applicant has not been displaced yet, but needs to relocate soon, renew a lease, or renovate to avoid displacement that is expected to take place within 7-13 months of application submission.
  • Important but less urgent (5 points):  The applicant has not been displaced yet, but needs to relocate soon, renew a lease, or renovate to avoid displacement that is expected to take place within 14-20 months of application submission.

Q:  Will our financials, which will show how our business has been doing, affect our score?
A:  The financials will help tell your story.  Rent increases are expected to be part of that history.

Q:  What if our lease date begins after the application due date?
A:  You may upload your lease offer letter if you do not have an executed lease by the application due date.

Q:  How will the grant panelists be chosen?  Will there be a mix representing for-profits and nonprofits?
A:  There will be five panelists.  Two of the panelists will be from the financial or real estate industry.  The other three will be from the creative economy.  There will be a mix of panelists from the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

Q:  What is the required term of the lease we must provide?  The previous ASAP application required a 3-year lease.
A:  CSAP requires a 3-year minimum lease term.  If you have a less than 3-year lease term, you must submit a 3-year business plan with your application.

Q:  Are code violations considered urgent?
A:  If code violations are creating the urgency of your situation, describe that situation in your narrative.  The grants selection panel will ultimately determine urgency.

Q:  Is the City able to connect artists with spaces or do we find our own space to include in the application?
A:  The City cannot locate space for you.  You must provide an executed lease or lease offer for the space you occupy or intend to occupy.

Q:  Can sponsored organizations apply?
A:  For-profit businesses can apply if they meet the definition for a “Live Music Venue”, “Performance Venue/Theater”, or “Museum/Art Galley” as described on page 2 of the guidelines.  Also, State of Texas nonprofit arts organizations in good standing may also apply independently of a sponsor.  Therefore, sponsorship is not needed. 

Q:  What is the process to select panelists?
A:  Staff is reaching out to people in finance, real estate, and the creative industry.

Q:  Is there a ratio of for-profits to nonprofits?
A:  We don’t know the ratio, but there will be a mix.

Q:  Can the rent stipend be for up to 12 months?
A:  Yes, the rent stipend can be awarded for up to 12 months.

Q:  Can rent stipend be retroactive?
A:  Contracts will be made on a case by case basis.  Some will be retroactive but must have receipts to show proof of payment.

Q:  Can I get feedback from the ASAP program on our previous application?
A:  Yes, you may contact the Cultural Arts Division at 512-974-7700 or send a message through the Cultural Arts website at https://www.austintexas.gov/email/culturalarts.

Q:  Is CSAP a continuing program?  Will there be funding next year?
A:  CSAP is a one-time funding opportunity.

Q:  Does a retroactive build-out qualify for funding?
A:  Contracts will be decided on a case by case basis.  Funding may be considered for expenses dating back to June 1, 2016.  However, a build-out will have to have passed inspection and you will need to show evidence of having passed inspection.

Q:  When does the 3-year lease requirement begin, when we were displaced or when the grant application is submitted?
A:  Your current lease must be a 3-year lease. If your current lease is less than a 3-year term, you must submit a 3-year business plan.

Q:  Should we shoot for the moon and ask for $50,000 or only ask for what we need?
A:  You should determine what your organization’s needs are and ask for the appropriate amount.

Q:  Are the award decisions all or nothing?  If we are not awarded the full amount of what we ask, could we receive a portion of our request?
A:  The decisions are not all or nothing.  You may ask for $50,000 but receive less.

Q:  Is the maximum of what you can receive for rent stipend only the amount by which your rent has increased?
A:  Yes, you can only receive the difference between your previous rent and current rent.

Q:  If we renovated our space but did not have a pre-development plan, can we still make a request?  Does not having a pre-development plan preclude us from winning an award?
A:  No, not having a pre-development plan does not disqualify your organization.  You are not required to have had a pre-development plan.  However, if you are asking for funds toward the renovation, you would have to show receipts for the work and that the renovations passed City inspection.

Q:  Is June 1, 2016 a hard cut-off?
A:  Yes, June 1, 2016 is the starting point for which funding will be considered.

Q:  If we were displaced and currently without a home, is the panel looking at the difference between our previous rent and zero?
A:  You will need to submit an executed lease or lease offer, which will be compared to your previous lease amount.

2019 Notice to Applicants:

Applicants are advised that the Economic Development Department, to the extent permitted by the Texas Public Information Act (Ch. 552 of the Texas Government Code), will protect the confidentiality of “confidential,” “trade secrets,” “proprietary,” and certain “commercial or financial information” (collectively “Proprietary”) contained in the submitted applications. If an applicant does not desire Proprietary information in the application to be disclosed to the public, the applicant should identify all Proprietary information in the application. This identification should be done by individually marking each page with such information with the words “Proprietary Information.” If the applicant does not identify Proprietary information, it agrees that the submission of the information will be deemed non-proprietary and subject to public disclosure.

While there are provisions in the Texas Public Information Act that will protect Proprietary information in the application where the applicant can meet certain evidentiary standards, please be advised that a determination on whether those standards have been met will not be decided by the Economic Development Department or the City of Austin, but by the Attorney General of the State of Texas.

In the event a request for public information related to an application is made, the City will notify the applicant in accordance with the Texas Public Information Act.

2017/2018 Art Space Assistance Program (ASAP):

The 2017/2018 Art Space Assistance Program provided grants to nonprofits facing permanent displacement, those previously displaced, or those facing lease renewals at substantially higher rates. Financial assistance was available for:

  • Tenant Improvements
  • Rent stipend

The pilot program was launched with $200,000 in one-time funding available from the Music Venue Assistance Program. Organizations with at least a 3-year lease term were able to apply for a financial assistance grant up to $50,000 for Tenant Improvements and up to $35,000 for Rent Stipend. Tenant Improvement grants required a 50% match.  Applicants with less than a 3-year lease had to illustrate how the ASAP would be of benefit over the next 3 years.

In September 2017, the following organizations were recommended for funding for the ASAP program. Grants were made on a competitive basis, and priority was given to organizations confronting immediate and critical needs.

  • VORTEX Repertory Co.
  • Imagine Art
  • Latinitas
  • Austin School of Film
  • Tapestry Dance Company
  • Rude Mechanicals
  • Pump Project
  • Ballet Afrique
  • Austin Visual Arts Association
  • Creative Reuse
  • Dimension Gallery
  • Conspirare

Contact: Kim McCarson, Economic and Business Liaison
512-974-7963 | kimberly.mccarson@austintexas.gov