The UK’s Music Venue Trust has expanded to Austin, Texas, following a lobbying campaign to cut liquor tax in performance venues.
The newly formed Music Venues Alliance are making a legal bid to slash liquor tax rates by half in clubs and bars which heavily promote live music to boost the local music industry.
Mayor Steve Adler has made it a priority to improve the livelihood of musicians in Austin after a 2015 report found that the city had lost 1200 music-based jobs in the previous five years.
Local music industry attorney Rebecca Reynolds and Don Pitts, manager of the city of Austin’s music and entertainment division, are spearheading the MVA campaign to support clubs and bars that face rising rents and financial pressure.
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Reynolds tells Austin Monitor: “Reducing the liquor tax rate is absolutely a priority, and the argument is that grassroots music venues are a cultural asset that are being over-regulated. Don approached me about this because I was already trying to engage with venues to work together to have a more solidified voice at City Hall and in the legislature.
“After our first meeting with some venue owners and managers and talking about all the struggles they face, it became clear that the best thing to do is to become the first chapter of the MVA.”
Reynolds says the MVA will work with developers and the government to make creative spaces such as music venues and galleries incentivised, ground-floor components of new building projects around Austin.
They’ve also outlined criteria regarding staff, equipment and infrastructure for potential members to avoid bars dressing themselves up as music venues just to qualify for the tax cut.
Further details of the bill will be made available in due course.
In 2015, the Music Venue Trust reported that four out of 10 live venues in the UK had gone out of business in the previous eight years.