One part of the Austin City Limits Music Festival that many people might not be very cognizant of is the heavy presence of interest groups and organizations at the event. A long strip near the East entrance of the park is dedicated to booths of various organizations, hoping to promote their initiatives.
Austin native Antwon R. Martin attended the event as a volunteer for the SAFE Alliance, a merger between the Ausin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace.
“Those are these two long-standing human service agencies in Austin and we serve survivors of sexual assault, trafficking, domestic violence and child abuse,” Martin said.
SAFE’s merger took place back in 2017, but the organization has been around in one iteration or another for over 40 years, Martin said. The organization has found a valuable access point at ACL and engages in the event to promote their anti-abuse message.
“ACL is a huge event and it’s only growing bigger and it’s an opportunity to engage with people, a lot of people, and talk to them about something they may not have had the opportunity to talk about before,” Martin said.
Vancouver, Wash. native Maddy Vonhoff attended ACL with ONE, an organization cofounded by U2 lead singer Bono. She is the acting manager of college organizing for the western part of the country from Texas to Washington. ONE has been represented at ACL for the past several years.
“We are an international advocacy organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease,” Vonhoff said. “We’re non-profit. We’re non-partisan. So, we don’t take political sides. We believe that ending poverty is a people issue and not a party issue, and we never ask for money. It’s all about using your voice to take political action.”
One group in attendance was situated apart from the rest of the organizations at ACL. Midterms Matter opted for an alternative way of reaching attendees — an original mural, painted during the first weekend.
Austin native Alavel Chapin was standing in front of the mural while it was being painted and handed out pins and fans promoting political engagement of young people. She has been with Midterms Matter since its creation.
“We are nonpartisan,” Chapin said. “We are basically a group of young people and artists trying to get young people to vote and reach them in an interesting way. So, through art basically. We sort of came together after the parkland shooting and the original idea was to do sort of guerilla art projects around the city, like, projecting art, and then the midterms were coming up so we really just focused on midterms, making art centered around that and focusing on our social media.”
The mural depicted minimalist images on the left of people at a protest. Moving to right side, the mural develops into a scene of people at voting booths.
Austin based artist Xavier Schipani designed and directed the painting of the mural and used the current political climate as inspiration for the painting.
“I was inspired a lot by the marches and protests that happened in the past couple of years and the energy behind them and sort of the anti-Trump movement,” Schipani said. “So, the idea is that it starts at a protest and ends at the polls, hopefully. The people use that energy that they bring to a protest to turn out to vote.”
ACL has become much more than just a music festival and provides a valuable platform for organizations to promote their initiatives, encouraging attendees to become more active participants in local, national and global issues.