Austin Cultural Trust

The Austin Cultural Trust (ACT)’s mission is to ““support acquisition and preservation of arts, cultural, and music spaces within Austin.” With its initial sources of funding, the Austin Cultural Trust invited Austin-based arts, music, and cultural organizations facing operating challenges due to increasing real estate costs to submit applications to receive financial and technical support from the Trust through a request for proposals (RFP) process. 

ACT emerged over time as a result of active community conversations in 2018-2020 and was initiated with the formation of the Austin Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) in 2021. The AEDC is a local government corporation structured to advance equitable real estate activity for the City of Austin, and it serves as program manager to facilitate the Cultural Trust. We spoke with Anne Gatling-Haynes, who joined the City in September of 2021 as the Chief Transactions Officer of AEDC, to learn about the founding and operations of the ACT. 

What is the origin of the Austin Cultural Trust?
What are the roles of Austin’s boards and commissions?
What is the governance of the AEDC and ACT?
What are the current sources of funding for the Austin Cultural Trust?
What is the ACT’s funding strategy going forward? Any advice for identifying sources of funding to start a cultural trust?
How does investing in cultural assets benefit a neighborhood? What role does gentrification play?
What is the ACT’s property acquisition and leasing strategy?
What other advice do you have for those interested in starting a cultural trust?

Key information about this model

  Austin Cultural Trust


  • Came into formation from community advocacy in 2018-2020, resulting in Austin City Council passing resolutions to form trust
  • Initiated in 2021 with formation of the Austin Economic Development Corporation (AEDC)


  • Acquire existing cultural arts and music assets to preserve affordability
  • Acquire or construct new creative facilities spaces
  • Responsive to a city-wide network of culture and art stakeholders


  • Austin Economic Development Corporation runs the ACT


  • $16.9M committed by the City for initial investments ($12M from voter approved tax-exempt city bond, $2.4M hotel occupancy tax, $2.5M city of Austin’s budget)


  • AEDC Board of Directors
  • Cultural Trust Advisory Committee, a matrix pulling in existing city-appointed arts commission, music commission, etc. with additional appointees

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