Following Texas Governor Gregg Abbott‘s announcement last week that businesses could reopen to 100% capacity and that the mask mandate was lifted, many businesses were left at a crossroads. Without the backing of a statewide mandate, many club and venue owners feared the difficult reality of enforcing social distancing guidelines and requiring masks. Now, over 30 Austin venues have joined forces to form the Safe In Sound initiative, a voluntary group of businesses that will remain committed to adhering to CDC guidelines for live events.

Those who take the Safe In Sound pledge promise to uphold safety standards including requiring facemasks for all staff and patrons, ensuring the availability of hand sanitizer, conducting employee training to ensure proper safety practices, requiring any employees showing symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home, committing to daily sanitation of high touch areas, and more. Numerous iconic Austin venues have already signed on to Safe In Sound, including Stubb’s BBQ, ACL Live, Antone’s, Mohawk, Paramount Theatre, Empire Control Room, Zach Theatre, and more.

“This program as a whole ultimately signifies a major shift within the local music and arts community where we as local business leaders are coming together as a unified front to stand up for what we believe in,” Red River Cultural District’s Executive Director Cody Cowan said in a statement. “After hearing from countless workers about the new level of fear that this new mandate has instilled upon those who work and perform within the district, I refuse to stand by and not stand up for what I, and many others like me, believe to be right. We hope that these collective actions send a strong message to the public that although we want to reopen, we will only do so in a manner that provides a safe environment for all.”

The new initiative has already caught the attention of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), with founding board member and managing partner of Heard Presents Stephen Sternschein saying,

Our city has made great strides in combating COVID-19 and we are closer than ever to being able to fully reopen safely; however, that day has not yet arrived. The limiting factor is vaccinations — once shots are widely available to everyone in our community, we should be able to fully reopen, but not before. As consumers, we have the power to choose where we spend our time and money, and I urge everyone who feels the same way we do to join us and support the businesses that are committed to keeping us all SAFE IN SOUND.

This news comes following a recent report from Rolling Stone which surveyed venue owners in Texas and Mississippi, two states that have completely removed all COVID-19 safety measures. Of the over half dozen venue owners, operators, and talent buyers interviewed, all but one stated that they will remain committed to adherence to CDC public health recommendations. Moreover, several indicated that—following announcements of the lifting of state mask mandates and capacity limitations—they were contacted by artists reaffirming the venue’s commitment to previously-announced safety measures.

Scroll down to see the full Safe In Sound code of conduct as well as a list of participating venues. Those interested in joining the Safe In Sound initiative are encouraged to email and visit the Safe In Sound website.


[H/T Consequence of Sound]