The Economic Development Department’s June 2016 Response to the Music and Creative Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution (Resolution No. 20160303-019) identified affordable space for artists and musicians as a priority concern area. 

In response, the Creative Space Assistance Program was formed to support creative organizations facing temporary or permanent displacement, were previously displaced, or facing lease renewals at substantially higher rates. Eligible applicants include arts-focused nonprofits, qualifying for-profit live music venues, performance spaces & art galleries, and independent artists with commercial studio spaces. 

Fiscal Year 2022 Program Guidelines 

The FY 2022 Creative Space Assistance Program provides a total of $1 million in direct support to arts-focused nonprofits, for-profit live music venues, performance spaces & art galleries, and independent artists with commercial studio spaces facing temporary or permanent displacement. The application portal will open to the public in the first quarter of 2022. Please contact Kim McCarson in the Music & Entertainment Division with any questions at Kimberly.McCarson@austintexas.gov. FY 2022 program guidelines include the following:

Eligibility

Eligible Applicants 

  • Select for-profit creative businesses as allowed by commercial space definitions below. 
  • Arts-focused Nonprofits: The applicant must be designated as a 501(c)(3) per the Internal Revenue Code or State of Texas nonprofit organization and be in good standing. 
  • Independent Artists: Independent artists seeking relief for short-term or month-to-month studio commercial lease expenses. 
  • Must be 18 years old to apply. 

Eligible Commercial Properties 

  • Commercial Property must be located in Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ), which includes the unincorporated land within 5 miles of Austin’s full purpose city limit not within the city limits or ETJ of another city. Austin’s ETJ currently extends into 4 counties including Travis, Williamson, Hays, and Bastrop. To learn where your address is located: https://www.austintexas.gov/GIS/JurisdictionsWebMap/ and click “I Want to...” then click “Find my Jurisdiction”. 
  • Commercial Property must be zoned appropriately for intended use as a commercial creative space. 
  • For-Profit Commercial Spaces: The Applicant’s 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; or 
      • 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 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.) 
  • The receipt of grant funds by for-profit businesses may result in a significant tax liability in the year of benefit.  It is the responsibility of the recipient to consult with his/her tax advisor to understand how he/she may be impacted based on his/her individual tax situation. 

Eligibility Requirements

Only organizations and individual artists that have been or are facing imminent displacement and relocation after March 2020 are eligible for financial assistance: 

  • The applicant can provide evidence of commercial property site control, including an existing fully executed lease or lease offer. 
  • The applicant can demonstrate an urgent need for commercial property assistance due to having been adversely impacted by rising costs as follows:  
    • Commercial property has been displaced and relocated, forced to close, OR   
    • Commercial property faces the imminent threat of displacement and relocation, OR  
    • Commercial property has renewed a lease at substantially higher rates (“substantially higher rate” is defined as at least 25% higher than current lease amount), OR 
    • Commercial property faces a pending lease renewal at substantially higher rates than the previous or current rate, OR 
    • Commercial property in need of City Code-related improvements, OR 
    • Commercial property in need of revenue-generating improvements to support sustainability.
Ineligible Applicants
  • City-run/owned, State-run/owned, or Federally-run/owned facilities.
  • Applicants who do not fit the eligibility definitions provided above.
  • Applicants younger than 18 years of age.
  • City of Austin employees.
Award Amounts and Contract Term 
  • Funding of $1 million for the FY 2022 budget. 
  • Grants will be awarded in amounts of at least $5,000 to a maximum of up to $50,000. 
  • Awards will be paid over a 12-month contract. 
Eligible Expenses 
  • Rent Stipend: Up to 30% of the Applicant’s base commercial rent, not to exceed $50,000 over a 12-month period. 
  • Gap Financing for Property Acquisition: If an applicant is requesting funds in the form of down payment assistance or gap financing, the applicant must demonstrate a high degree of project readiness, including detailed deal structure (including proof of financing that will make up the remaining amount of funds needed for the purchase), acquisition process/timeline, detailed cost estimates for the acquisition or renovation (if applicable), and property/facility specifications.   
  • Other Space-Related Needs: Includes such facility improvements as architectural or project plans or displacement-related expenditures: 
    • If an applicant is requesting funds to make physical and/or acoustical improvements to the facility being leased or purchased, the applicant must demonstrate a detailed site development/construction budget, an identified project team and/or contractors, timeline, and a proposed operating & maintenance budget for the facility. 
    • The applicant must demonstrate how the proposed project will comply with City of Austin Code and how the proposed project improves the financial and programmatic performance for the organization. Awards will be reimbursed upon proof of a secured permit to remedy City of Austin Code violations or to execute facility improvements. 
    • If an applicant is requesting financial relief to offset or defray displacement-related expenditures (production-specific facility rental, equipment rental/acquisition, transportation or moving costs, etc.), the applicant must be able to produce receipts/proof of payment for these specific expenditures. The receipts/proof of payments cannot be dated prior to March 2020. 
Ineligible Expenses
  • Expenses incurred before March 2020. 
  • Any fundraising expenses, including but not limited to entertainment, reception or hospitality functions expenses. 
  • Salaries. 
  • Payments to students or interns whose employment is tied to class credit. 
  • Operating costs. 
  • 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, with the exception of retail sales or payroll taxes. 
Application Scoring Matrix
  • Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Applicants who belong to a segment of Austin’s diverse population that has historically been underrepresented in the arts, including Black / African American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic / Latino, Middle Eastern, and Pacific Islander communities – 20 POINTS  
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual people (LGBTQIA+), Woman-Identifying, and/or Disability Community – Up to 15 POINTS  
  • Compelling Project Need: The applicant demonstrates the extent to which the funding will address a compelling organizational need – 20 POINTS 
  • Urgency: The applicant demonstrates the level of urgency of need according to the following categories: 
    • Most Urgent: 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 – 15 POINTS, or 
    • Urgent: 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 – 10 POINTS  
    • Important but Less Urgent: 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 – 5 POINTS 
  • Co-Location: The applicant demonstrates co-location / sub-leasing opportunities for other creatives or creative-based organizations if supported by this funding, including how these opportunities will help meet or advance its own mission or improve programmatic collaboration. Must include the number and types of creatives and/or creative-based organizations served, how these creatives or creative organizations will be served, and the measurement for success for the co-location or shared space to increase capacity, efficiency, or effectiveness of both: (1) the “host” organization and (2) “hosted” creatives or “hosted” creative-based organizations – 10 POINTS 
  • Community Benefit: The applicant demonstrates how it impacts the community through such elements as its mission, programs, events, and relationships – 10 POINTS 
  • Equity: The applicant demonstrates that it’s committed to equity and to serving historically underrepresented communities in Austin – 15 POINTS 
  • Event History and/or Artistic Programming & Advancement: The applicant demonstrates the quality of its event history and/or artistic programming & services, and advancement of the organization over time – 5 POINTS 
  • New Recipient: The applicant has not received previous City funding, including: Arts Space Assistance Program, Creative Space Assistance Program, Creative Space Disaster Relief Program, Austin Live Music Venue Preservation Fund, Austin Legacy Business Relief Grant, Austin Small Business Relief Grant, and/or Austin Non-Profit Relief Grant – 10 POINT BONUS 
Required Documentation
  • Eligibility: 
    • Physical address of commercial property for which funding is being. requested.
    • Executed lease or lease offer. 
    • Nonprofits must provide Internal Revenue Service designation letter as a 501(c)(3) or a State of Texas nonprofit incorporation letter.
    • Form 990 (nonprofits) or tax return (for-profits) for last completed fiscal year.
  • Assurances and Disclaimer: 
    • Signed Assurances Document provided by City of Austin.
    • For Profit Disclaimer provided by City of Austin.
  • For gap financing and facility improvement projects: 
    • Deal structure / proof of financing for acquisition. 
    • Cost estimate for acquisition or construction budget. 
    • Timeline & Project Plan.
  • For facility improvements only: 
    • Description of project team/contractors. 
    • Proposed operating/maintenance budget. 
    • Disclaimer regarding disbursement of funds upon secured permit provided by City of Austin.
Contractor Requirements

Award recipients must comply with the following commitments: 

  • 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 – Agree to 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, panel, etc.), in partnership with EDD; or 
  • Career Development – 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. 
2020 Program

In April 2020, CSAP was adapted into the Austin Creative Space Disaster Relief Program with a $1 million budget to address the economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the creative industry, as directed in Austin City Council Resolution No. 20200423-040. Click here to view the program dashboard, which displays such information as the number of applications received, profiles of applicants (minus personal information), and approval and denial rates.

2019 Program

The 2019 Creative Space Assistance Program was funded at $750,000 and awards were based on a competitive process 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. Click here to read the 2019 CSAP Update Memo to Austin City Council.

2018 Program

The 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 and rent stipend. Click here to read the 2018 ASAP Update Memo to Austin City Council.