U.K.'s Music Venue Trust Expands to Austin, Texas and Targets State Liquor Tax

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The scene on Sixth Street at SXSW 2015.

The group wasted no time in shoring up the local venue community.

The U.K.'s Music Venue Trust, which advocates for small venues around London, has announced its first international chapter planned for another hub of live music: Austin, Texas. Music Venues Alliance Austin, headed by attorney Rebecca Reynolds, aims to protect and improve the city's music culture. MVAA says more than 30 venues around town have already joined the network.

"Although we have our own unique drivers for what threatens the future of Austin music venues, the core challenges are the same; gentrification, rising rents, a lack of cultural acknowledgement and respect for the work they are doing, and a music industry that needs to start backing these spaces if they are to continue to develop new and emerging talent," Reynolds says.

One of MVAA's first stated goals is a reduction in the state liquor tax rate, a move that is seen as a way of helping small businesses feeling squeezed by rising rents and other operating and administrative costs. A 2013 effort that would have cut the tax rate for many clubs and bars in half didn't make it past committee.

Speaking with the Austin Monitor, Reynolds said reducing the rate is "absolutely a priority, and the argument is that grassroots music venues are a cultural asset that are being overregulated."

Despite its reputation as the "live music capital of the world," Austin has lost about 1,200 music-related jobs in recent years, according to a 2015 report.