LGBT artists and art collectives in Austin must stand by those facing displacement due to gentrification. We are making a call for Gender Unbound Art Fest and its host, Gender Portraits, to acknowledge the ACA’s proposed plan, and to publicly oppose it. Both organizations are funded by Austin Creative Alliance (ACA). This is concerning to us and many community members who are aware of ACA’s involvement in the planned development of the East Riverside Arts District.
For the past few months Defend Our Hoodz has called attention to the ACA and Presidium Group’s proposed Riverside Arts District. The proposed Arts District claims it will offer art space to Riverside artists. However, their real plans include the creation of huge domain-style, mixed-use luxury apartments. Riverside exists as one of few options for relatively affordable housing for working-class students and families in central Austin. This proposed redevelopment is just another step toward completely gentrifying East Austin. Any introduction of new high-end housing in this area will forcefully displace the working-class community of Riverside, an area where many LGBT people are able to find affordable housing.
ACA and Presidium Group want the people to believe they are creating the Arts District to help preserve what is seen as something special about Austin: its long history of music and art. The catch is, they believe that these things are only for the wealthy, as there is clearly no place for the working-class community of East Riverside in their plans.
As a project which does provide space and a voice to many working class and oppressed nations LGBT artists, this is at odds with the values of Gender Unbound as well as Gender Portraits. As projects of Austin Creative Alliance, we have to wonder at what point their destructive capitalist views will start to impact their work. How long can ACA hand out money to support working-class black and Chicano queer artists while they tear down homes and push people of their own communities?
Stonewall Militant Front calls all Austin LGBT artists and art collectives to attention, including Gender Unbound Art Fest and its host Gender Portraits. It is absolutely necessary to publicly oppose the proposal for a Riverside Arts District and pressure ACA to cut ties with Presidium Group. Join the boycott organized by Defend Our Hoodz and reject all invitations to anything dealing with the Riverside Arts District. This includes the Pump Project Arts Complex and all their associated artists, Come and Take it Theatre, Tapestry Dance Company, Sun Radio, Soundwaves Art Foundation, Wall Austin Foundation, Almost Real Things, and any other businesses or groups involved with the ‘Riverside Arts District’ or the ‘Pop-Up Arts District’.