Like South by Southwest itself, the SXSW Cares Fund, an initiative to raise money for those injured or worse in the Red River hit-and-run that left four people dead, began small but has now expanded into a nine-day affair sprawling through a myriad of clubs.
Running April 12-20, the SXSW Cares Big Benefit promises more than 20 venues and 30 businesses donating a portion of their profits to a fund that’s received more than $180,000 in contributions. Since its establishment during SXSW, that money’s been overseen by the Austin Community Foundation and will eventually be disbursed to those most affected by the tragic events in the early morning of March 13 via the Victim Services Division of the Austin Police Department with help from SXSW, Mohawk, and the ACF.
James Taylor, Holy Mountain’s general manager, told the Chronicle Wednesday that most venues around town will be donating variations of proceeds – cover charges, percentages of bar sales, etc. – from one or two nights out of the nine, with his club hosting Possessed by Paul James, the Lonesome Heroes, Mother Mary & the Black Dirt, and Harrison Anderson on April 18. He says his Seventh Street venture plans to give proceeds from both the bar and the door, along with a chunk of change from the Austin Music Foundation, which is co-sponsoring the evening.
“When the initial conversation began, there was talk about it all being on one night,” reveals Taylor. “[Transmission Events partner James] Moody and I raised the concern that that might deplete the ability of every club to post a big draw and do well. I thought, ‘Let’s spread it out over a week. If the clubs do well, we’ll raise a maximum amount.’
“All the artists are still getting paid, so this will be the best way.”
In addition to Downtown music venues, other spots getting involved include Juiceland, which will donate 5% of all city sales on April 18, and hot dog hub Frank, which unveils a memorial mural on its south wall on April 12 amidst a block party selling food and silk screenings. Austin Music People executive director Jennifer Houlihan adds that a 30-day auction opens online that same day and will feature a bevy of assorted items. Tomorrow’s Stubb’s headliners White Denim are expected to donate a guitar.
One of the most notable promotions that week comes courtesy of Desirae Hill and Whitney Scott, two students at Austin Community College, who originally organized an April 17 throwdown at Flamingo Cantina as part of a class assignment tasking students to book a benefit. Hill and Scott had already put together a crack hip-hop bill including Keith Corona, Crew 54, Sertified, Die Slo, and Stat 1. Those putting on the Big Benefit contacted Hill and asked if they’d like to be a part of it.
“We’re doing a $5 minimum,” reports Hill. “Since all proceeds go towards the fund, we’re taking more than the minimum if people want.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the SXSW Cares link via the Austin Community Foundation was nonfunctioning, with the latter entity reporting it should be working within the next 24 hours.
Update: Austin Community Foundation’s website is back up, as is the SXSW Cares donation page.
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