Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More miles than money

In the previous entry I posted an old acoustic performance from Patty Griffin taped at Austin's beloved Cactus Cafe. The 31-year-old venue has become as much a staple of the University of Texas as the Austin City Limits studios--which is traversing its way through a $300 million relocation to downtown Austin in 2011. Last week the student body was outraged to learn the Cafe would 'close' in August.

In the days since the announcement was made the administration has clarified that the venue would remain open, but it's management and inner-workings would be changed to accommodate for the $66,000 a year the venue loses. Alternative plans have been proposed--including one that increases tuition four percent for the next two years-- but as of now the administration is going ahead with their plans.

Upon reading some of the heated Web comments toward the administration it was clear these students had a strong emotional attachment to a place they thought belonged to them. One person recalled an evening spent at the cafe a mere feet from Austin based musician Alejandro Escovedo as he played "Last to Know" from his 1992 solo debut "Gravity." As I listened to this gorgeous song I thought about how I would feel if a place I saw, say, Patty Griffin were to close down. Music venues are like churches in a way--they hold a rich, deep-seated history within their walls for all who enter their doors.

Universities will always think with their wallets(how else would they maintain operations?)but it would be refreshing to see a music-related program spared from the budget cuts one day.

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