Austin leads the way to policies for reopening music venues

The “Reopen Every Venue Safely” (REVS) project is a nationwide effort, led by Music Cities Together, that’s being participated in by eight cities around the US, including Austin, Cleveland, Seattle, Portland, Louisville, New Orleans and more.

Each city has committed to working on policies that will encourage all music venues to open safely, with criteria developed specifically for each city, by participants in each city. Almost every city has a clear connection to government representative(s); New Orleans, unfortunately, does not. There is still no one in New Orleans on the city level who is working specifically with music venues to help them in designing policies that will keep the venue businesses, musicians and guests safe, so that our reputation as a “Music City” can once more be resumed when we move forward into Phase 3 and 4.

Representatives in New Orleans are still working on a plan while bars and venues are still closed to the public. Austin has recognized for years how important live music, music venues and music events are to its economy (the annual South By Southwest event was cancelled this year for the first time in its history; its impact on Austin’s economy is estimated to be $355.9 million annually).

Because Austin’s city government is involved in its music economy, it appears that Austin is the first to come forward with a specific plan and recommendations to gets its famed music clubs open and running again (Austin is currently in Phase 4 of its COVID-19 prevention strategy; New Orleans is still in Phase 2). We present it here, and hope New Orleans can make a plan as thorough as this; if nothing else, this could be used as a model for our policy in a strategy to reopen New Orleans music venues, festivals and more. What we do not have, however, is a clear connection to who at the city level will and could implement recommendations such as the one Austin presents in this report. That’s something New Orleans has needed for the past two decades. If we’re going to call ourselves a music city, we have to work with the venues who present our live music to the world.

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