Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund Is Now Open

Eligibility requirements center on two key stipulations

Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund applications are due this Friday, June 12, 5pm. Funded from $1.5 million designated for COVID-19 relief by the City Council, the new program offers $1,000 grants to local musicians. Apply online here.

Courtesy of Austin Texas Musicians

The city contracted Grammys charitable arm MusiCares to oversee distribution of monies. Local musicians criticized the eligibility requirements, centering around two stipulations: Applicants can’t have already received MusiCares’ prior nationally-distributed COVID-19 Relief Fund, and musicians must submit bank statements of their savings.

Music & Entertainment Division Director Erica Shamaly defended the requirement on Facebook: “You’re eligible, unless you’ve more than two months’ worth of your total living expenses sitting in savings for no other reason than to collect interest. This grant isn’t for you, but someone you know or play with who’s more vulnerable.”

At last Wednesday’s Music Commission meeting, local artist Julieann Banks said she considers her bank balance “operating funds held for when our gigs resume,” rather than expendable savings. Nakia Reynoso, president of Austin Texas Musicians, shared feedback from his nonprofit group of local musicians.

“The overwhelming response is that in an attempt to be ultra-inclusive, musicians are actually being excluded,” he stated. “When people in a very vulnerable state see these hoops they have to jump through, [they] don’t bother to apply.”

Commission Chair Rick Carney said they had not been involved with penning the requirements, and further conversation circled around adjusting rules for a second round of grants.

“It’s important for musicians to be transparent about their situation and understand that there are a lot of people in need right now,” said Commissioner Patrice Pike. “The onus has been put on [the Music Commission] to make recommendations. We don’t author the policy. You have to decide to be as expeditious as possible, but also, unfortunately, decide who needs the money the most.”

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund
Faster Than Sound: Locals Join Over 1,000 Independent Clubs Fighting for Survival
Faster Than Sound: Locals Join Over 1,000 Independent Clubs Fighting for Survival
Meet the National Independent Venue Association, goodbye Shady Grove, and more music news

Rachel Rascoe, May 15, 2020

Faster Than Sound: $1.5 Million in HOT Funds Routed to Emergency Musician Relief
Faster Than Sound: $1.5 Million in HOT Funds Routed to Emergency Musician Relief
Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund created – contentiously.

Rachel Rascoe, April 17, 2020

More by Rachel Rascoe
Austin's Hip-Hop Pioneers, in Their Own Words
Austin's Hip-Hop Pioneers, in Their Own Words
The Austin History Center-archived rappers and industry innovators share stories

Sept. 15, 2023

The Tiarras, El Combo Oscuro Soundtrack <i>The Austin Chronicle</i> Hot Sauce Festival
The Tiarras, El Combo Oscuro Soundtrack The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival
Benefiting the Central Texas Food Bank at Far Out Lounge on Sunday, Sept. 10

Sept. 8, 2023


Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund, Nakia Reynoso, Rick Carney, Patrice Pike, Julieann Banks, Erica Shamaly, Music & Entertainment Division, Austin Music Commission, COVID-19 2020

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle