Creative Artists to Receive Grants in Austin
Since the Covid-19 pandemic swept the entire globe earlier this year, the American government, at both the state and federal levels, has been busy paying out a lot of money to a variety of different businesses, along with stimulus money for your everyday workers. However, not all people were receiving that money. There are a lot of starving artists out there, who don’t work a typical job but instead paint, sculpt, write music, etc. To date, not much has been done to help this large group of people. The city of Austin, Texas is looking to change that, by announcing grants that creative artists can apply for in the city.
The Austin Economic Development Department announced early Thursday, August 13, that they would be awarding millions of dollars total in grants to eligible applicants affected by the global pandemic. The only catch is that people must prove that they work in the “creative sector,” meaning that they’re artists of some sort.
The city will begin taking applications starting on August 17, through the 28th of the month. In total, the initiative, called the Austin Creative Worker Relief Grant, is awarding $3.5 million in grants to help artists cover bills and expenses like their rent, groceries, gas, and other bills. If artists in the Austin area would like to know more, then the city’s official website will be hosting informal webinars on August 18 and August 20, with a Spanish language broadcast on August 22.
No total amount of per-grant funding has been released as of yet by the Austin Economic Development Department, but it’s assumed that these will be small grants that range on average from around $1,500 to $4,000. With that amount given per grant, roughly 1,200 applicants will be awarded money.
A grant differs from a loan in that artists will not be expected to in any way repay this amount. The money will be given to qualified residents with no strings attached. Though because it is thought that the amounts are likely going to be small, one-off payments to hopefully help as many people as possible, there is already some criticism brewing from the creative artist community, with people demanding more money. Some critics are asking Austin to take more federal funding from the CARES Act that was given to the state of Texas so that they can offer much more money to more people. Though it is still unclear how many people will receive money, or what amount they will receive.
Austin is a pretty big city, with a population of around 1 million people. So there are likely tens of thousands of people in the creative arts bracket. With cities like these, artists typically flock there in droves to work and live, and so the fear here is that this grant money is just a political gesture and not anything that will help. Though for over a thousand applicants, this money should definitely come in handy and help with bills and other living expenses.
Creativity and the Economy
When it comes to stimulus spending or any type of grant initiative, there are plenty of critics out there who want to keep money away from the “creative” sector. Of course, you have people who believe that these individuals are mainly drug users who simply do not want to work, though you also have people who view it more economically and don’t want to give out money because of what this demographic doesn’t put into the economy. A painter, for instance, isn’t like a regular small business owner or a self-employed resident, according to critics. They’re not offering anything to boost the economy, as they’re not exactly playing by the same laws of supply and demand.
Though the city of Austin doesn’t treat its creative sector as if it’s a burden on their economy. They know that many artists out there are trying to do their best to earn a living and to be contributing members of society; though with the global pandemic and people sheltering in place and not spending a lot of money, creative artists are even more affected by this downturn than most businesses, especially since they’re not awarded nearly as many grants as typical business owners.
In the coming weeks, we will know for sure how many people received grants and how much they ended up getting. Austin city believes that helping its creative sector will help spur the economy.
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