City and Music Groups Seek Partners for 2015 Creative Ecosystem Census Update

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Wednesday, May 18, 2022 by Chad Swiatecki

The 2015 census that showed Austin’s music and creative community was becoming economically marginalized will be updated this summer, with organizers hoping to reach a larger and more diverse pool of respondents from the Austin area and beyond.

More than a dozen nonprofits, media and government organizations have signed on to help gather data from local musicians, with the resulting report providing a basis for city policy decisions and programming milestones and operational for creative groups involved in the livelihoods of local musicians.

The census will open June 20 with KUTX lead organization Sound Music Cities and Mayor Steve Adler. Community engagement partners include Austin Community College Music Business Program, Austin Creative Alliance, Austin Economic Development Corporation, Austin Music Foundation, ATX Musicians, Black Fret, Do512, EQ Austin, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians and Juice Consulting.

the 2015 census, which received around 4,000 responses, showed that stagnating wages and the rising cost of living in the city were top concerns for local musicians, with around a third earning $15,000 or less a year. year thanks to their musical career. Other issues included the fragmentation of various sectors of the music industry, underserved music entrepreneurs in the business world, and the rapidly changing consumer tastes and behaviors of music fans.

Don Pitts, former head of the city’s music and entertainment division and co-founder of consulting group Sound Music Cities, said a census update had been discussed for years but had been delayed in part by the pandemic. of Covid-19. He said involving more community groups in the new census is crucial to achieving the goal of getting more responses and looking at factors such as equity and educational opportunities that are important determinants of a healthy music ecosystem.

“In our experience, survey results achieve a level of confidence when the number of respondents approaches critical mass relative to the total number of musicians and industry workers in the community surveyed,” it said. he declared by e-mail. “The 2015 Austin Music Census set the bar high at 4,000 respondents, more than any other city that has embarked on an initiative like this. Our goal is to match that or improve.

Pitts said discussions are underway with media partners such as KUTX to organize events and promotional campaigns to publicize the census results. He added, “In addition, we will be releasing a series of data infographics which we hope will inspire grassroots organizations to lead their own community conversation or join others.”

Jennifer Dugas, CEO and executive director of the Austin Music Foundation, said the 2015 census helped her organization create and revise its programs and events to better serve aspiring musicians. She said a closer look at the state of the local music industry will help the AMF make similar changes in 2022 and beyond.

“For the AMF and our partners, this data helps inform what we do in terms of programming in terms of the services we provide. The census is something we rely heavily on and talking to our nonprofit partners, we don’t have the current data to say, here’s what we should be doing.

“We are in direct contact with the artists all the time,” she added, “but there is no hard data to go back to, and for the city, the mayor and the department of economic development, it is extremely important to be able to show that they are to the needs of our community.

Nagavalli Medicharla, president of EQ Austin and a member of the city’s music commission, said the mapping process would be helpful in starting conversations about priorities for improving the quality of life and economic prospects for local musicians.

“Good data will help the city and the music community make informed decisions. It will also help to advocate for solutions to issues that are well-known or talked about but are currently only supported by anecdotal data,” she wrote via email. “This census survey will be broadly inclusive of Austin’s diverse music communities. This is crucial for the success of the survey. Good data will also be useful in stimulating wider community ownership and bringing us closer to consensus on various issues.

Groups interested in participating in the census can email [email protected]

Photo made available via a Creative Commons license.

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