Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

City Council passes resolution to save summer concert series, keep arts events accessible

Teagan Jensen

On Friday, Austin City Limits Radio announced the free summer concert series “Blues on the Green” is back on at Zilker Park after its previous cancellation announcement, after increased funding by H-E-B and Austin City Council’s resolution to extend support to Austin arts events.

Authored by councilmember Natasha Harper-Madison and sponsored by Paige Ellis, Zohaib Qadri and Ryan Alter, the resolution passed 10-1 on Thursday. It establishes a long-term call-to-action from the city to determine how to keep arts events free and open to the public to maintain Austin’s cultural identity as the “Live Music Capital,” Harper-Madison said in the city’s message board.

This community event is one I have personally cherished growing up in Austin, and one I have always deeply enjoyed with my family,” Harper-Madison said in a statement. “The resolution provides further direction for City staff to examine how the city can support local music and arts events as an ecosystem.”

 While the resolution directly supports “Blues on the Green,” it also fosters environments for creativity, in an attempt to keep the arts safe from rising costs and cancellation.

 “(ACL Radio) cited rising costs (and) we experience the exact same thing and are in the exact same type of jeopardy,” said David Ponton, executive director of Zilker Theatre Productions.

Before the pandemic, Ponton said most of the production’s funding came from the city’s cultural arts grants programs. Post-pandemic, however, he said the funding disappeared for several years. The City restarted its cultural funding programs in 2023. Now the Production receives 70% less than before, Ponton said. 

“The performing arts are that thing that binds everybody together. … It builds this beautiful sense of community,” Ponton said. “And it’s important that people (can) experience that from all walks of life, not just people who can afford a really expensive ticket to see a show at national tours. … We provide everything for free — that’s our whole reason for existing.”

Maryam Zafar, a member of Speedrun Studios, said theater and the live performing arts deserve to be supported by the city and made accessible for everyone.

“What happens when you defund the arts is that you end up in a society that lacks empathy to its core, that’s why theater and live performing arts … need to be funded, need to be prioritized and need to be seen as something important,” Zafar said. “It’s an expression of creativity and power … and to see that not being made accessible is one of the most devastating blows you can deal.”

Harper-Madison said the resolution is only the beginning. She plans on continuing conversations about Austin’s music and arts spaces to ensure everything remains affordable and accessible, she said in a statement.

“Our vision is that the future generations of Austinites will get to experience live music events and traditions,” Harper-Madison said. “(They) are the fabric of our ‘uniquely Austin’ quality of life.”

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