Austin may extend Red River Street noise curfew pilot

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — An experiment letting bands play later in the Red River Cultural District in downtown Austin is paying off, city leaders say.

The local music industry is pushing to extend the city’s six-month pilot program aimed at helping local musicians and live music venues. It allows bars on Red River Street to extend live music by an hour.

On Thursdays, the area’s noise curfew was pushed from 11 p.m. to midnight. And, thanks to the program, artists can currently play until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, instead of midnight. The extra hour each night translates into thousands of dollars of extra revenue, both for local artists and the venues they play in.

“Having the extra hour means they’ve got an extra slot on the bill, and they can book in local artists that maybe they wouldn’t have been able to get in otherwise,” said Brian Block, entertainment services manager for the city of Austin’s Music and Entertainment Division.

The current pilot program began in May and ends Nov. 1.  Block and his team will go before city council on Oct. 19 to ask for a six month extension. He says the extra six months would give them time to come up with a permanent plan.

“We feel like we’ve got enough data that we can now start presenting it to the stakeholders and having discussions and coming to a conclusion about a final recommendation,” Block said.

The city is currently surveying people who live nearby. His hope is to find a middle ground while supporting the local music scene.

“Live music is important to our local economy and it’s at the heart of our culture,” Block said. “This is a unique district, the Red River District, that’s live music focused, but they are struggling with increased property values and rents, and so whatever we can do to help make them viable and sustainable in a way that is balanced with residential quality of life, that’s what we’re after.”

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