Today is Amplify Austin Day.
No, wait: Today, if you're reading this on Thursday, March 4, or Friday, March 5, is Amplify Austin Day.
The fundraising (and fund-matching) program runs for 24 hours – from March 4, 6pm, to March 5, 6pm. Also, this is Amplify Austin Day for 2021, so it's immediately following our first Year of COVID-19.
Do we have to tell you how devastating that's been for everyone? No, we don't: If you're reading this, at least you're still alive and well enough to read ... and also therefore aware of the economic and societal and emotional tolls the pandemic (and the response to the pandemic) has exacted upon our beleaguered species. And that's why, though there are an increasing number of noteworthy events here in the Arts Listings section, this annual Amplify Austin Day wrangled by the I Live Here I Give Here organization is currently the most important thing happening in this context.
"Over the past eight years, Amplify Austin Day has raised $69 million in critical unrestricted funds for our nonprofit sector," as the official website tells us. Of course, that sweet cash flow wasn't all directed toward the arts as represented in this section – Amplify Austin encompasses around 700 local nonprofit organizations of all kinds, after all – but a decent chunk of it was. And, right now, arts organizations could use a decent chunk of anything, pretty much.
"Because the pandemic crushed the hotel/motel tax revenues that feed the Austin arts," says Ken Webster, head honcho of Hyde Park Theatre, "we've had a 58% cut in funding this year – right when we still can't quite open for business."
"Contributions from the community are greatly needed to make up for over 60% in funding cuts and the loss of many typical revenue streams," Ariel Dance Theatre's Andrea Ariel tells us. "Staging performances, arranging business sponsorships, collaborating on artistic projects and performances with other artists and companies – these were not, as you know, really viable during 2020."
We do know. And we also know that, whereas you can always donate to any of these arts nonprofits any time you feel like it, O generous citizen, on this particular day your gift will be matched by Amplify Austin sponsors and work much better to support the people you choose to support. For instance?
"This year," says Hyde Park's Webster, "we qualify for an amazing $20,000 matching grant from Tito's Handmade Vodka, may they flourish forever."
Well, yes, Ken: Tito's will likely flourish for a long time indeed – and more power to 'em, if they're helping to support the arts like this. And there are many other sponsors – your Austin Chronicle is among them, and H-E-B, and Samsung, and St. David's, and so on, as noted on that informative website – and they're all behind this community-forward initiative. And we mean: What is the arts, after all, if not community-forward?
"We're committed to making sure that Ground Floor Theatre comes through this," vows Lisa Scheps, leader of that creative Eastside powerhouse, "so that we can continue making theatre that lifts voices that need to be heard."
Exactly. And you want to help lift those voices, Austinite? Now's your chance to Amplify them.
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