Downtown Austin Alliance launches new creative endeavor

A new program launched on Wednesday is meant to beautify Downtown Austin and provide more opportunities for artists and entrepreneurs.

"This is truly a one-of-a-kind program for downtown," said Jenell Moffett, chief impact officer for Downtown Austin Alliance.

The Downtown Austin Space Activation (DASA) program was created in response to a changing energy downtown. The goal is to connect creatives with existing, vacant space and boost the downtown economy.

"This is an innovative, creative approach to a bigger problem," said Raasin McIntosh, vice president of urban activation for DAA.

According to DAA, in 2023, average downtown visitor traffic was at 86% of 2019 levels. Data looking at 2023-24 showed that 88% of available downtown storefronts were occupied by operating businesses.

"And so the idea literally came from trying to understand how we could increase vibrancy and foot traffic and safety around the vacancies downtown," said McIntosh. 

The program’s first storefront location is at 506 Congress Ave. The first, longer-term activation will be with DivInc, a local entrepreneurship organization. In the spring, DAA will launch an artist residency program. 

Down the road, DAA is interested in partnering with more property owners and creatives.


Just down the road, what’s known as the 301 Congress Porch, was previously transformed with the addition of a large mural, string lights and tables, providing a space for artists like The Foxtones, who have played there over the last couple of months.

"You would easily walk by the space if you didn't know anything was there. But actually, it's got a really cool set up for a stage, for a band and some picnic tables and things like that. And the acoustics were fantastic because you're nestled in between three buildings. And they wanted to test out if we put live music in Downtown Austin, would people stick around?" said Kimberly Chung, band member and manager. "By being able to be in such a visible space downtown, people were literally stopping and interacting with us in between breaks. They were following us. They were asking about new shows." 

In addition to the 301 Congress Porch and 506 Congress Ave., Central Presbyterian Church on E. 8th St. is also providing its sanctuary to host performances, panel discussions and interactive exhibits. 

"That's what I love about this program is it looks at both sides," said McIntosh. "It looks at the property owner, the downtown stakeholder, how they can benefit and also looks at folks that need space that have been pushed out historically that have talent, that want to showcase their talent and that can really improve the value of downtown."

If you’d like to "activate your space" or "take up space," click here to learn more.

To attend the DASA Launch Party on Thursday, June 13, click here.