Fans take action to save the Cactus Cafe from closure
Music lovers around the world are joining Austin residents in a bid to save the iconic Cactus Cafe, where many music legends got their start.
The University of Texas has proposed closing the venue to save an estimated $66,000 a year. The university is planning a series of budget cuts that will also see a rise in student fees and an end to a programme of informal classes that were open to local residents at a nominal fee.
An alumni organisation has proposed moving the venue and incorporating it into an alumni centre, but the newly formed Friends of the Cactus Cafe insist that it should continue operating “in a manner that preserves its fundamental character in its current location.” The Friends already have more than 23,000 members on their Facebook page.
They are proposing to integrate the venue more closely into student life and education, giving greater opportunities for students to manage, promote and perform in the Cactus Cafe. They also hope in the long term to make the venue profitable.
The Cactus Cafe opened in February 1979 and quickly earned a reputation as a showcase for acoustic music in an intimate setting. Among the long list of names who have frequented the venue are Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Nanci Griffith, Ralph Stanley, Gillian Welch and Patty Griffin.
“I don't believe it's hyperbole to say that it's truly a cultural treasure for Austin, and for the international songwriter community,” said songwriter Danny Schmidt, who grew up in Austin and first saw many of the artists that are his inspiration at the Cactus Cafe.