Next week, the Austin City Limits Music Festival is going to bring a major gift to music lovers — 130 acts on eight stages in three days. What these music fans may not know is that ACL also means major gifts of tickets and cash donations to local nonprofits.
There’s a year-round charitable side to the ACL Festival that’s often overshadowed by music festivities.
C3 Presents, the production company behind ACL and Lollapalooza music festivals, makes a point of giving back to the communities in which it host events. In Austin, C3’s giving spans health care, education, food banks, environmental, literacy and music/arts education charities.
“It’s a part of everything we do, whether its volunteering, mentoring or going to speak to classes,” said Lisa Hickey, C3’s director of marketing. “It’s a big part of the company culture. The partners at C3 really want us to get involved in the community.”
Every year, C3 gives away free ACL passes to nonprofits, which use those tickets to raise money for their individual charities. For ACL, C3 donates about $50,000 in tickets to charities and community outreach programs. For Lollapalooza in Chicago, it donates about $45,000 in tickets.
Last year, C3 donated roughly $875,000 to the Austin Parks Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit that advocates for bonds and funding to acquire parkland and improve park facilities. C3’s annual gift, which is based on a percentage of each ticket sale, has gone to fund several park projects around town, including the Zilker Tree Rescue Project and the Barton Creek Greenbelt project.
This year, C3 committed $20,000 to the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), and $20,000 to the SIMS Foundation, which provides mental health services to musicians. It also made a donation of $20,000 to St. Jude’s Hospital.
Carolyn Schwarz, executive director of HAAM, said that C3 became an underwriter for HAAM Benefit Day this year with its $20,000 contribution.
C3 “has made a concerted effort to give back locally,” Schwarz said, adding that South By Southwest Music Festival has also been a big contributor to HAAM. “These are for-profits making money off a music festival, but the people who work for them are thinking about how to give to the community and how to help a nonprofit working with our musicians.”