The City of Austin is no longer accepting applications for the Creative Space Assistance Program. The deadline for submission expired on March 22 at 5 p.m. 

The Creative Space Assistance Program offered grants between $5,000 and $50,000 to creative organizations and independent artists facing displacement or new commercial leases at higher and unaffordable rates. Grant funds may be used for revenue-generating space improvements, lease payments, and gap financing for creative space purchases. 


Grant Guidelines

Applicant Eligibility


Eligible Applicants

  • Arts-focused non-profits designated as a 501(c)(3) 
  • Independent artists with commercial studio spaces 
  • For-profit businesses that have eligible commercial properties 
  • Must be 18 years old to apply 


Ineligible Applicants

  • Applicants younger than 18 years of age
  • City of Austin employees 

Commercial Property Eligibility


Eligible Commercial Properties

  • Must be located in the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) which includes Bastrop, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties
  • Must be appropriately zoned for intended use as a commercial creative space
  • For-profit commercial property must meet EDD’s definition of either a “Live Music Venue”, “Performance Venue/Theater”, or “Museum/Art Gallery”, including:  
    • 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:  
      • a) Defined performance and audience space 
      • b) Mixing desk, PA system, and lighting rig 
      • c) Back line 
      • d) At least two of the following:   
        • (i) sound engineer,   
        • (ii) booker,   
        • (iii) promoter,   
        • (iv) stage manager, or   
        • (v) security personnel 
      • e) Charges cover charge to some music performance through ticketing or front door entrance fee 
      • f) Markets specific acts through show listings in printed and electronic publications 
      • g) Hours of operation coincide with performance times 
      • h) 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 with a principal function and mission 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. City-run/owned, State-run/owned, or Federally-run/owned facilities are not eligible. 
  • The receipt of grant funds by for-profit businesses may result in a significant tax liability. It's the responsibility of the awardee to consult with their tax advisor to understand how they may be impacted.


Ineligible Commercial Properties

  • City of Austin, State of Texas, or Federally run/owned facilities 

Expense Eligibility


Eligible Expenses

  • Gap Financing for Property Acquisition – If requesting funds in the form of down payment assistance or gap financing, you must demonstrate a high degree of project readiness, including detailed cost estimates for the acquisition and a detailed deal structure, including proof of financing for the remaining amount of funds needed for purchase.
  • Rent Stipend – Up to 30% of base commercial rent, not to exceed $50,000 over a 12-month period 
  • Other Space-Related Needs – Includes such facility improvements as architectural or project plans and displacement-related expenses: 
    • If requesting funds to make physical and acoustical improvements to an eligible commercial space, the applicant must demonstrate a detailed site development and construction budget, an identified project team with contractors, and a project timeline. 
    • Must demonstrate how the proposed project will comply with City of Austin Code and improves the financial and programmatic performance for the organization. 
    • If requesting funds to cover displacement-related expenses (including facility rental, equipment rental & acquisition, transportation or moving costs), the applicant must produce receipts or proof of payment.


Ineligible Expenses

  • Expenses incurred before March 2020 
  • Fundraising expenses, including entertainment, reception or hospitality expenses 
  • Salaries 
  • Payments to students or interns whose employment is tied to class credit 
  • Other operating costs besides rent 
  • Purchase of gifts, awards, cash prizes, scholarships, contributions or donations 
  • Existing debts, fines, contingencies, penalties, interest or litigation costs 
  • Travel costs 
  • Property taxes or any other tax, except retail sales taxes 
Application Scoring



Available Points 

Access to Services 

Applicant lacks access to services, including: 

  • Applicant and/or project located in a Qualified Census Tract (QCT) 
  • Access to traditional funding support 
  • Healthcare coverage for employees 

Up to 30 Points 

Compelling Project Need 

The applicant demonstrates the funding will address a compelling project need. 

Up to 20 Points 



The applicant demonstrates the level of urgency of need according to the following categories: 

  • Most Urgent: Applicant displaced or requires immediate relocation, lease renewal, or renovation in 6 months to avoid displacement 
  • Urgent: Applicant not displaced, but requires immediate relocation, lease renewal, or renovation in 7-13 months to avoid displacement 
  • Less Urgent: Applicant not displaced, but requires immediate relocation, lease renewal, or renovation in 14-20 months to avoid displacement 

Up to 15 Points 



Applicant Demonstrates co-location / sub-leasing opportunities, including: 

  • Co-location has served or advanced the applicant’s mission, cultural use, or artistic production 
  • Applicant has either increased access to affordable space to other creatives, or has benefited from increased income 
  • Co-location has improved programmatic efficiencies/collaboration for the applicant 

Up to 15 Points 

Community Benefit 

Demonstrates impact to the community through such elements as mission, programs, events, and relationships. 

Up to 5 Points 



The applicant demonstrates that it’s committed to equity and to serving historically underrepresented communities in Austin. 

Up to 20 Points 

New Recipient 

The applicant has not received previous City funding, including: 

  • Creative Space Disaster Relief Program 
  • Austin Live Music Venue Preservation Fund 
  • Austin Legacy Business Relief Grant 
  • Austin Small Business Relief Grant 
  • Austin Non-Profit Relief Grant 

10 Bonus Points 

Grant Awardee Commitments

Award recipients must agree to only one of the following program commitments: 


Technical Assistance Program Commitment 

  • Agree to participate in technical assistance or other capacity building support (business development workshops, financial planning, etc.)  
  • Agree to participate in or host one professional development opportunity for the community (speaker, workshop, webinar, panel, etc.). 


Career Development Program Commitment 

  • Agree to engage in career development opportunities with the Austin Independent School District, other school districts operating in Austin, or other entities that provide information about career options for students K-12.