Candidate Forums for the Creative Sector
ACA, ATC, and AMP partner to quiz City Council contenders
By Robert Faires,
4:10PM, Tue. Sep. 23, 2014
In this year's historic expansion of the City Council, the creative sector wants to be sure that its role in Austin's economy and quality of life are understood are taken seriously. So the Austin Creative Alliance, Austin Music People, and the Austin Technology Council have teamed to sponsor their own series of candidate forums.
Eight separate events will allow the candidates in each of the 10 new districts, as well as the candidates for mayor, to address issues of concern to the music, film, and digital industries; the nonprofit arts communities; and other areas of creative activity (fashion, design, culinary arts, books and literature, et al.) in Austin. Many of the hot topics in that sector align with those in the larger community – affordability, particularly in regard to health and housing; transportation; support for and regulation of small businesses; community infrastructure – but because the contributions of creatives have historically been tied to the city's affordability, rising rents and and other costs, along with shrinking numbers of properties in the central city that can be used for creative purposes, threaten to have a disproportionate impact on local artists, designers, musicians, filmmakers, and their fellow creatives. And with the creative sector being responsible for 48,000 jobs, $71 million in contributions to the city's tax base, and $4.35 billion in generated economic activity – not to mention the priceless contributions in innovation, national attention, and quality of life – is that a hit Austin can afford to take?
AMP Executive Director Jennifer Houlihan estimates that Austin's creative sector comprises some 300,000 individuals – a mighty potent electoral force if it could be harnessed. Take the first step toward that possibility by attending one or more of the upcoming forums. Two took place two weeks ago (covering Districts 6 & 10, and 7), with the third, covering Districts 5 & 8, being held yesterday. But there's one tonight, Tuesday, for Districts 2 & 3, with the final four spread out over the next week. The forums are free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested. The schedule is as follows: