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Austin Classical Guitar

Evolving To Meet Today’s Challenges And Inspire Hope For Tomorrow: Austin Classical Guitar

COVID-19 has made life diffiRequest an Appointmentcult for small business owners everywhere. But it has been disastrous for many charitable organizations. Employment in the non-profit sector has declined by 50 percent since March 2020. Meanwhile, statistics suggest that approximately 85 percent of 501(c)(3)s are now facing revenue shortfalls.

The resulting impact on organizational capacity has been equally severe. More than 60 percent of Texas non-profits have witnessed an increase in demand for their services because of the pandemic. Yet over 70 percent are still coping with disruptions to those services.

Philanthropic organizations aren’t the only ones to have struggled in this economic climate. So too have those arts and culture non-profits that depend so much on live events. The performances and exhibits these organizations host support artists, provide enriching experiences for audiences, and help raise much-needed funds.

Few cities in the Lone Star State appreciate the value of cultural production as much as Austin. But, between March and July of 2020, spending on arts and entertainment in the “Live Music Capital of the World” declined by more than 33 percent.

Austin Classical Guitar (ACG) is just one of many local non-profits to have felt the ill effects of COVID-19. ACG’s stated mission is “to inspire individuals in the communities we serve through musical experiences of deep personal significance.” To which Executive Director Matt Hinsley adds: “We aspire to do good in the world through music and make a meaningful, positive impact in the lives of individuals.”

In support of this mission, the organization has been very active over the last three decades. It has built music programs in over 50 Austin-area public schools, provided music and healing services through more than 10 area social services partners, and produced thousands of concerts and community-based arts events.

How has COVID-19 affected ACG’s ability to continue offering such robust programming? The organization staged its last live event on March 7, 2020: a performance in which dance and music students from Lively Middle School shared the stage with international guitar superstar David Russell. But, unlike so many other non-profits, ACG never closed its doors entirely. Instead, the organization committed all its resources to adapting to a new normal. 

At the same time, ACG has not allowed its need to innovate to overrule the principles that have always steered it toward success. “The pandemic prompted us to change our ‘how,’” Matt explains. “But we’re still driven by the same the ‘why’ to achieve the same ‘what.’” 

ACG’s financial operations were among the first to undergo transformation. As soon as Matt learned that 501(c)(3)s qualified for the emergency funding being made available via the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), he contacted his banker — Ryan Coaxum of Guaranty Bank & Trust’s Austin location. Although Ryan was already busy fielding other inquires and shepherding multiple PPP loans through the application process, he immediately offered Matt his assistance.  

“Ryan has always been a friend to ACG,” Matt notes. “He attended our 2020 gala, has a deep interest in music, and believes in community service. When it came to helping with our PPP loan, he clearly explained everything and was supportive and friendly in every way.”

In less than three weeks, the Small Business Administration (SBA) approved ACG’s request for $112,000 in PPP funding. The organization used that money to retain the talent that would prove instrumental to its next move. “We stepped up our activities at every level,” Matt recalls. “Looking at the social currents the pandemic set in motion, we determined that the need to engage students, teachers, and the public was greater than ever. So we pivoted to online programming and began thinking about how to make a virtue of that necessity.”

Those efforts culminated in May 2020 with the completion of “Everything Changes at Once,” a large-scale, asynchronous, interdisciplinary collaboration conceived by Travis Marcum, ACG’s Director of Education. Work on “Everything Changes at Once” actually began in late March 2020, during the first round of shelter-in-place orders. Travis invited participants to contribute music recordings, found sounds, photographs, and personal narratives to the project. Students and teachers from 36 guitar programs across the U.S. and Canada responded, generating over 600 individual expressions that ACG’s audiovisual and education teams ultimately wove into an 8-minute video presentation.

“Everything Changes at Once” is both a reflection of the feelings stirred by the pandemic and an outpouring of hope for the future despite the great uncertainties of the present. Likewise, ACG remains hopeful that it will continue thriving through 2020 and into 2021. “We’re looking to broaden our definition of community, and assemble a truly representative staff and a Board of Directors,” Matt says. “We’ve also started forming stronger partnerships with service providers in underrepresented communities at every level: local, regional, and national.” 

Matt acknowledges that achieving these lofty goals will require everyone at ACG to push themselves. But, as he says, “Hope is hard work.” He also says that Ryan and the team and Guaranty Bank & Trust will be invaluable partners in acting on ACG’s ambitions. “Guaranty is our bank. With their personal care and attention, we feel confident we can create the bright future we’ve imagined for ourselves and the populations we serve.”

You can learn more about and help support Austin Classical Guitar by visiting their website. To keep up-to-date with all of the organization’s educational initiatives and virtual events, be sure to follow them on Facebook.

Whatever your hopes may be for your small business or tax-exempt 501(c)(3), Guaranty Bank & Trust can help you realize them. We’ve partnered with four generations — and counting — of Texans who have dreamed big about making an even bigger difference in their communities. Get to know your local Guaranty Bank & Trust banker and put their small business expertise to work for you today by calling our Custom Care Center at (888) 572-9881 or booking a video appointment.