Arts Action Update: From Latifah

Dear Arts Community,
We’re happy to report the outcome of the efforts made in our behalf today – that we spoke about yesterday.  In the briefest language:
Fill out your CAO Cultural Contract Application as you have in the last funding cycle.

What happened:

After the meeting we had at the DAC yesterday, Kevin Patterson and Cis Myers of Austin Lyric Opera, in consultation with others on their team, Create Austin and our Creative Alliance, agreed to meet with members of city staff and several council members on behalf of our entire arts community today.
I just got off the phone with Kevin and here is his update of what took place:
Meeting with Sue Edwards, Assistant City Manager:
We made it clear to Ms. Edwards that we were representing the entire arts community and shared the concern about the language in the current funding application. We also shared with her an alternate interpretation of the Texas State Tax Code, section 351.101. We emphasized the serious economic impact that the pending city interpretation of the tax code could have on all arts organizations.
We had a very positive exchange of ideas with Ms. Edwards resulting in her agreement to recommend the following to City Manager Marc Ott:
    • That the new language in the application be deleted;
    • That the alternative legal interpretation of the tax code be shard with David Smith, General Council for the city for further review;
    • And that the city pledged to work with the arts community to further define the process for the next application cycle if necessary.
Meeting with Council Member Randi Shade and Policy Aid Glen Coleman:
Council Member Shade was emphatic about her support for the arts community and arts funding and that the content of the application form was a staff matter and not one requiring council action. We reviewed the same materials and she was in agreement with the general approach outlined with Assistant City Manager Sue Edwards. Council Member Shade anticipated a briefing later today by city staff, but again emphasized that her intent was never to jeopardize funding for the arts community. The meeting went very well and was extremely positive.
We were able to have brief conversations with Council Member Cole and Austin’s General Council David Smith. Each was appreciative of the arts community providing leadership in this matter and anticipated resolving this issue in a positive manner.
Assistant City Manager Edwards indicated that the arts community should proceed with the application process as they have in past funding cycles.

I feel our holding together as ONE community has been a stellar achievement. And everyone – each and every one of us, has made a huge difference in this crisis. May we all grow forward from here as we mutually advance, connect, and celebrate our art, culture, and creativity!

With lots of love,


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About nowplayingaustin

The Austin Creative Alliance is a nonprofit performing arts service organization working to cultivate an environment where the performing arts can grow and flourish. We serve over 130 arts organizations with marketing, ticketing, audience development services; AEA paymaster, information & referral services — plus access to affordable health, liability, and event insurance. We also provide online professional development seminars, fiscal sponsorship services for emerging arts groups, host annual unified general auditions, annual theatre industry awards, and consistently advocate for the many benefits the arts bring to our quality of life.

One thought on “Arts Action Update: From Latifah

  1. We are not out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot. We may squeak by this year, but major trouble lies ahead. In a letter to arts contractors from Kevin Johns, Director of Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services, lies one terribly disturbing sentence:

    “Any groups that fall outside the tourism dollar portfolio we will work to develop a safety net and suggest appropriate funding.”

    If the City can’t even keep the libraries open, what sort of chance do you think the small arts organizations would have under the general fund budget?

    I wonder if we would find some legal allies in other Texas cities. If Austin changes its arts funding guidelines for the Hotel Occupancy Tax, the repercussions would spread across the state like wildfire. Lots of other cities would be affected by this, and perhaps we owe them a fair warning. They might be able to help us.

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