The University of Texas at Austin
  • President Powers holds town hall meeting Feb. 2

    By William Powers Jr.
    William Powers Jr.
    Published: Jan. 28, 2010

    Dear students, faculty and staff members:

    You may have questions about the issues confronting the university today. I invite you to a university-wide town hall meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 2, from 4-6 p.m. in the Avaya Auditorium, room 2.302, in the ACES Building.

    Among the important issues we are facing are:

    • Budget reallocations in the colleges and units.
    • The tuition increase proposal for 2010-11 and 2011-12 from the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee.
    • A request from the governor for a prioritized plan for a 5 percent budget reduction in state general revenue funds for the current biennium.

    If you have questions or comments about these or other issues, join me and other members of the university community at this meeting, which is open to the public. We will also broadcast streaming video of the meeting on the Multimedia page of the Office of the President Web site.

    I’ll also continue to address issues such as these in Tower Talk, my blog about the life of the university.

    I look forward to seeing you.

    • Quote 2
      Heather said on May 7, 2010 at 11:05 a.m.
      I am very encouraged by Dr. Gonzales' enthusiasm about making the Cactus Cafe, "the hottest ticket in town." I agree that more can be done in the way of promotions and simply growing the business (this is true of almost any enterprise). I imagine Cactus Cafe t-shirts and other memorabilia for sale and being seen all over the country. I am sure that the current management of the Cactus has some great ideas on how this can be done. I hope that UT will engage them as you working on the enhanced business plan. I'm sure that they have tried things that worked and other things that haven't. I hope there won't be a rush to any decisions especially now with all the wonderful, positive energy and ideas out there. It’s great how everyone wants to help the Cactus Cafe to live on. The reason that they want to keep it going is because a lot of what is going on there is working perfectly. Please don’t forget this as you move forward. If you scrap what is there and start fresh with new people, completely new business plan, new management and food/bar structure, then you are not building on anything but an empty room. With even more student involvement, the Cactus Cafe can attract even more students. With KUT possibly doing some live shows from there, you can increase community involvement even more and with a sound business model, everyone wins. As a community member, a UT employee and UT Alum, I am eager to donate money to the Cactus Cafe. I feel more connected to the venue then I feel towards the math department or the athletics department, even though I am engaged with both as well. The University has so many wonderful things to offer students, alum and community members that we can each pick and choose where to spend our money and where to donate each year. Lastly, please, please take some friends and family and go to the Cactus Cafe as a patron in the near future. I was there last Monday night for a wonderful show and while sitting there I was just blown away at the professionalism and high quality of the music and staff. I was almost in tears thinking that it could possibly become something completely different. Please do not ruin the Cactus Cafe. Please do not destroy the history and the history-making that is happening right now, each night that a show is presented.
    • Quote 2
      Will Blackmon said on May 5, 2010 at 5:03 p.m.
      I would like to share a few words about what the Cactus Café means to me, and what I feel could be an opportunity to both preserve the historic reputation of the Cactus while still extending its services to reach out to the students at the University of Texas. I am a lifelong music fan, particularly of the Texas-Americana type fare that is showcased here in Austin. I am a former U.S. Navy Nuclear Submarine officer who relied on music to get me through many long months in harms way, thousands of miles from home. These days, I work as programmer and I listen to music on the order of 8 hours a day. I started a charity houseconcert series in 2005 to help raise funds for Hurricane Katrina refugees. I have produced musical fundraisers for KO-OP radio, following its unfortunate fires. I tell you this to try to scratch the surface of how important music is in my life, what a difficult and fickle business music can be, and what a special place the Cactus Café has become due to the commitment of the current Management and Staff. The list of shows I have attended at the Cactus reads like a dream list that any music fan would envy, where any one show could change the life of any casual music fan. The Cactus is where I introduced my father to Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez (multiple times!). It was where I took in a Trout Fishing in America matinee show with my 5 and 7-year old daughters. It was the place where I was absolutely mezmorized by the playing of Huasteca group Son De Madera (from Veracruz). The Cactus is where I introduced my wife ot the blues, seeing the blues/cajun/jazz and R&B stylings of Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. I have seen some of the finest performers in the world, including Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, and I have seen budding musicians show up for the free open-mic performances. There is no shortage of opportunity for people from the community or students to see these fine and amazingly diverse performances. The current staff has made the Cactus the relevant, eclectic, and emotional heart of the Texas Music scene. It is one plaque short of becoming a Historic Site. With this in mind, I have spent months reading the misguided and misinformed comments and letters from people who do not know the Cactus Café nor understand its legacy. They do not understand what it takes to keep up a world-class level of production, 6-7 days a week, for the last 30 years. Quite simply, the KUT plan seems hasty and haphazard. Here are the loaded and somewhat contradictory arguments that have been proposed by Cameron Smith and his five students: Argument 1: The students don't want the Cactus. “The reason that you don’t see more students here [at the forum] is because they just don’t care,” -Andrew Nash Facts: There were resolutions by both the Undergraduate and Graduate Assemblies, plus that of the Presidents of the College Councils. Argument 2: The students love KUT. Facts: From working with the Friends of the Cactus Café, my experience in talking to the students is that most of them don't listen to KUT. Some didn’t even know what it was! Further, if the argument is that ‘the current programming is not relevant’, even a casual listening to KUT would confirm that they play the same fare that the Cactus currently features. Argument 3: KUT can help 'build this new brand' and pump in 'new life' into the Cactus. “It is my firm belief that the KUT plan will provide an opportunity to pump a new sense of life into the Cactus Cafe.” -Andrew Nash Facts: Music fans all over the country, all the way up to Casey Monahan in the Governor’s Texas Music Office, have punctuated the fact that there is nothing wrong with the Cactus, it’s ‘brand’, or its vitality. The hybrid KUT plan created by Cameron Smith, propped up by his own students, introduces an incomplete plan with unproven leadership and resources. My understanding is that this all began as an effort to have the Cactus Café become financially solvent and have more student involvement. The business plan presented by the Friends of the Cactus Café satisfies these requirements. Why not allow the Cactus to continue doing what it does best, but simply task it with becoming financially solvent and extending it’s reach to the students of the University of Texas more prominently, provide educational opportunities? The progress could be reviewed in a year’s time to ensure all the goals have been met. Dr. González, please Save the Cactus Café along with the Management and Staff that has helped make Austin the Music Capital of the World.
    • Quote 2
      Laura Thomas said on May 5, 2010 at 3:17 p.m.
      May 5, 2010 Dear President Powers, Dr. Gonzalez and The Texas Union Board of Directors, My name is Laura Thomas. I am a native Austinite, and I hold two degrees from UT Austin (BSW/1986, MSSW/1995). I am also a local music industry professional. I own my own booking agency and represent a roster of ten artists. I want to thank the University for the efforts to gather information and concerns on the future of the Cactus Café over the past few months. We have come a long way from the January announcement of the closing of the Cactus. The April 21 forum announcing that the Cactus Café would stay open as a live music venue left us with some hope. I was in attendance at the April forum, and it seems there are two issues left on the table. One, it has been made clear that students want to be and should be involved in the future of the Cactus Café. Second, the University has stated the need for an improved business model at the Cactus Café. The 20 or so students in attendance at the April forum are hardly representative of the 50,000+ students attending the University. It felt like the handful of students who spoke had been coached to express support for the KUT plan. The students said they feel disconnected, disenfranchised and what they were asking for was the opportunity to be involved as interns at KUT, so they could then be involved with the Cactus Café. Huh? If students have the desire to intern and be involved with the Cactus Café, the current Cactus management and staff are more than capable and interested in working with those students directly. The University should give their very own, award-winning and successful current Cactus Cafe staff the opportunity to connect with the students. The Cactus Café just won their 9th Austin Music Award of “Best Acoustic Venue”. 25,000+ FaceBook supporters and 6000 petition signers tell us the Cactus Cafe is alive and well. The Cactus Café is not broken. The challenge now is to listen to the students who want to be more involved with the ALREADY SUCCESSFUL Cactus Café and allow CURRENT manager Griff Luneburg to improve the business model to the satisfaction of the University Administration. The burning question I have had for some time is – why hasn’t Griff Luneburg been included in any talks to address the future of the Cactus? It seems the wrong people have been attending the meetings regarding the future of the Cactus. Save the Cactus members have no official decision making capacity for the Cactus Cafe. Texas Union Board student members did not seem to have an opinion before the decision to close the Cactus went public. Disconnected students, Texas Union Management and Griff should have been included all along. When an employer is unhappy with an employee or program – typically the employee or manager of the program is given the opportunity to remedy any concerns before any drastic measures are taken (example: firing Griff or inviting a new partnership such as KUT into the picture). Has Griff had his annual evaluation lately (which I am sure is mandated by the State), and did the Administration document and make Griff aware of their concerns? Was Griff allowed in his annual evaluation to make a plan of correction to remedy business model concerns and an action plan to include students? If none of this was address in his last evaluation, then I think it would be prudent to include in his next one. Griff has not being treated properly throughout this ordeal. We are at a new juncture, and there will be many people upset with the University of Texas if Griff Luneburg is not given the opportunity to address or be involved with any remaining concerns the University has with the operations at the Cactus Café. Perhaps Griff, disconnected students and KUT could sit at the same table… imagine that. As someone who has been working in the music business for over ten years, and I deal with hundreds of venues all of the country and Europe, I can honestly tell you the Cactus Café is a true gem, the benchmark or touchstone for all other listening rooms in the world. My hope in this is to preserve the venue’s current programming. The Cactus Café is a venue made for singer songwriters – there are stories, songs, spirits and ghosts living in that room. There is no other venue in town where you can go and hear a pin drop when the performer is on stage. No other room can you hear the power of song. Song and story are held sacred. The room is full of history and tradition honoring the art form of the singer songwriter - it is the University’s duty to preserve it and to keep the room dedicated to this art form. Working with countless venues each week, I intimately know “the people make the place”, and Griff Luneburg and staff have made the Cactus Cafe the legendary venue it is today. I am writing today to ask that the University and powers that be choose the Texas Union Management plan and that current management and staff be kept on board. I am asking the University to work directly with Griff Luneburg and to give him the chance to make the business model changes and the connection with students. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Laura Thomas ComboPlate Booking
    • Quote 2
      Marianne Reat said on May 4, 2010 at 9:57 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, I was relieved to hear that the University of Texas administration was responsive to the public outcry from the Austin community and recently announced that it would not close the Cactus Cafe. I understand that students want to be involved in the future of the Cactus Cafe, and that is appropriate. However, the Cactus Cafe is an acoustic venue made for singer/songwriters, and this programming should not change. The Cactus Cafe is known all over the world as an acoustic venue made for singer/songwriters, and it has won many awards as this type of venue. I have attended many shows there, both as a UT law student in the late 1980s and in the last 11 years as an Austin resident. I have always enjoyed the kinds of shows the Cactus puts on. Many very important musicians have received early recognition there. My husband and I first met each other at the Cactus Cafe at a CD release show of Michael Fracasso, a local singer/songwriter, so the venue holds a special place in my heart. By the way, that particular concert and nearly every other one I have been to was so well attended that numerous people were standing. I think the current Cactus Cafe staff and management, especially the long-time director, Griff Luneberg, should be given an opportunity to work with those students interested in interning and in being more involved. The University should give the award-winning and successful current staff the respect it deserves and allow them to take on this role of working directly with student interns, rather than assuming this can only be done through new partnerships. Students could learn a lot from the current staff. I do not think the format of the Cactus Cafe needs to change, and I hope that the University administration will let the current management have an opportunity to make it a student-involved endeavor as well as a great music venue. Sincerely, Marianne Reat
    • Quote 2
      Rachel Walker said on April 26, 2010 at 1:18 p.m.
      As the decision about the fate of the Cactus draws ever closer, I would like clarification on a very important point. DOES A KUT TAKEOVER MEAN THE CURRENT CACTUS STAFF WOULD BE EJECTED IN AUGUST? KUT is an amazing institution and I think their involvement would be fabulous, but I suspect the reality is that a KUT-run Cactus would mean the current Cactus staff would all lose their jobs in August. Staff currently consists of 10 current UT students plus three people who have been there for over 20 years and comprise the creative conscience of the Cactus.(Chris, Susan, Griff). These are the people that made the cafe something we wanted to save in the first place. Besides, how does taking away 10 student jobs promote student participation at the venue?? Why can't KUT work WITH the current staff to promote shows and increase funding without actually taking over and removing the people who ARE the fundamental character of the Cactus? It seems to me that the current (which once again include mostly students) deserve the opportunity to fix the problems that have been brought to the table before they are ejected and replaced by another entity. Thank you again for keeping an open mind and considering our comments.
    • Quote 2
      D said on March 27, 2010 at 2:42 p.m.
      This proposal smacks of lazy, uncreative administration. I don't understand how these two programs - Informal Classes and the Cactus - are losing money. I *really* don't understand how they can't be restructured to be profitable. Lastly, why is it that every little pocket of UT is supposed to turn a PROFIT? I don't see the word PROFIT in the university motto. I thought it was a learning institution for the people of Texas. Apparently I was wrong.
    • Quote 2
      Chris Searles said on March 27, 2010 at 12:20 p.m.
      I grew up in Austin, and in 1989 as a music student on full scholarship to UT -- found myself gaining my first professional experience by performing at the Cactus Cafe. In the years since, I've gone on to rec'v 2 Grammy nominations and perform extensively with such nationally treasured headliners as Shawn Colvin, The Flatlanders, Alejandro Escovedo, James McMurtry, Bruce Robison, and Twang Twang Shock-a-boom. (All of whom love playing the Cactus.) The Cactus was, and remains, integral to my success and enjoyment of music. Performing @ the CC is as much of an anticipated pleasure today as it was 21 years ago. The room offers an organic, unpretentious focus that simply cannot be found elsewhere in Texas or the United States. More importantly -- the CC brings enormous value and reputation to the University, with only minuscule budgetary demands. The CC is a world-class, world-renown performance venue. The room attracts some of the world's greatest musicians and delights some of the world's most enthusiastic fans. It brings people onto campus, who tend not towards football and other of the more mainstream UT events, to engage in and appreciate what a world class university can offer its community. Many call this type of experience "high quality of life." What will happen to the University's intangible positive relationship with Austin's music community if the CC is decommissioned? Eeesh. UT won't have that relationship if the CC goes. It will become more insular. Recitals and occasional Bass events cannot replace the ongoing, dynamic CC. You'll be destroying something Austin, the live music capital of the world, thrives from. Any "room" that garners 20,000+ Facebook fans in less than 5 days from the announcement of its closure -- is worthy of respect. What's more, those people would happily contribute $10 to keep the club going fwd. So, yes, the CC doesn't fit the UT mold, and yes, it has rough edges. It's no wonder UT is considering closure. But I worry that the University is under-appreciating the CC's value. Perhaps more efforts could be made to: a) raise $200k from the CC's loyal supporters, b) utilize some of those funds to invigorate a stronger connection btwn today's students and the venue, c) keep the room as is. With this much passion shown from the community, shouldn't decision makers prioritize collaborative/creative solutions to solve financial challenges?
    • Quote 2
      Music Lover said on March 24, 2010 at 1:04 p.m.
      “What’s the use of a university without support for the arts? It’s like a birthday cake with no icing. It’s still a cake, I guess, but it sort of misses the point.”--Chris Smither
    • Quote 2
      Don Garritano said on March 16, 2010 at 6:41 p.m.
      What is the current status regarding ongoing operations ? My daughter is about to graduate from Marine basic at Parris Island and is really upset about the astounding turn of events. I'd like to send her some good news that the patient will survive.
    • Quote 2
      George Gianopoulos said on March 4, 2010 at 9:19 p.m.
      Please work with Austin music lovers to keep the Cactus Cafe alive. This is a special part of the music tradition both at UT and in the general Austin community. To think of losing this treasure is, well, unthinkable. If you have ever been to the Cactus, I am sure that you know what I mean; if you haven't been, please try it, then you will know. Thank you.
    • Quote 2
      Meredith Reese said on March 3, 2010 at 9:07 p.m.
      I agree with mgarcia. Cactus Cafe is an important part of the music history of Austin, as well as the history of the University. When people visited me on campus, I always enjoyed sharing stories about it. Please keep it around for future students and faculty to enjoy.
    • Quote 2
      Penny Peters said on Feb. 28, 2010 at 8:42 p.m.
      This is a shame and a disgrace, both closing the Informal Classes and the Cactus Cafe. If the plans go through, the Powers administration will go down in infamy. I was pleased to learn that Whole Foods Vice President Michael Clifford has withdrawn from the Management Information Systems Steering Committee at the McCombs School of Business in protest; this is appropriate. But I hope the protests will have some impact and the ill-considered decisions will be reversed (and Andy Smith fired).
    • Quote 2
      Vicente Lozano said on Feb. 23, 2010 at 1:51 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, What is so gallingly unimaginative about the current SEC proposal is that it does not take into account, for even one second, that the Cactus could be a profitable "brand" with only a modest amount of planning and rallying of support. Many places would kill for the kind of internationally respected "brand" that the Cactus stands for. We live in a City that celebrates "creative capital," the ability to visualize more flexible and colorful ways of making money while preserving a unique sense of place and fun. Austin is, after all, the place that created Whole Foods, South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. There are many powerhouse public relations and media companies in town like Milkshake Media and GSD&M who could help with creating a higher and more profitable Cactus Profile. Think of what student internships, aligned with these partners, could do. During his 17-year tenure Unions Director Andy Smith has only had one trick: to bring in national conglomerate brands and turn the Union into a fast food ghetto. Because of his relationship with Aramark, the fast food corporation that runs the Union food court, Mr. Smith has not *had* to do anything else. His has been a captive student market for which he only has to serve as a franchising middleman. To his credit, Mr. Smith has been able to make money for the Texas Union. But only in the most depressing of ways: by herding a constantly renewable audience of 50,000 students through a fast food ghetto, tricked out with burnt orange memorabilia. A trans-fat staleness hangs over the entire enterprise. If the Cactus Cafe has been unprofitable, it certainly wasn't helped by management sanctioning a Starbucks that siphoned off business in front of it. To drive home the point, I might ask Liam O' Rourke and Andrew Nash to construct a lemonade stand on the West Mall, and then have Mr. Smith construct a Jamba Juice obstructing their efforts. When these students leave, what special memories will they take with them that will tie them back to the university as donating alumni: memories of the double cheese or Baja Wrap at Wendy's? Probably not. Smith claims that students love the setup. But sadly they have never known -- nor have they ever been shown -- anything different: The Tavern, which used to light up with faculty student conversations; or the more diverse and local kinds of food that used to be served at the Union. The Texas Union is under the thumb of a business model that no longer works. Today more people want healthier food choices; they long for places that are not like every other mall or strip mall in America. Local places, with all of the unique charm they offer are what stand the future chance of making money, while tying special places closer to the campus, city and music communities that created them. This is the least that students and our communities deserve. Not Liam and Andrew's Excellent Adventure. Somewhere in there, the Texas Unions SEC and management know better. They still have the opportunity to prove it. Respectfully, Vicente Lozano
    • Quote 2
      mgarcia said on Feb. 22, 2010 at 11:52 p.m.
      Cactus Cafe is an important part of the music history of Austin. It is an icon of the live music scene this town is known for, and connects many of us who play, listen to, and love music. Please don't shut down this venue where so many creative people have found a home. It is a special place because musicians both known and unknown have shared their dreams and stories there, and is much more than just another room because of this.
    • Quote 2
      Donna said on Feb. 21, 2010 at 1:22 p.m.
      Please, please don't close the Cactus Cafe. This is part of our history; this is a landmark. This is a place that typifies what the music scene in Austin is all about and is a special part of UT. I'm appalled and heartbroken to think that this beloved institution will no longer be around. Stop, please. Keep the Cactus Cafe.
    • Quote 2
      Dr. William A. Nericcio said on Feb. 20, 2010 at 12:28 a.m.
      I worked as a barrista and bartender in the Cactus Cafe from 1982-1984 and 1987-1988. It is the heart and soul of the UT campus and the person who voted to close it up/change it has no clue about the social/arts scene that it sustains. I worked one night when 6 folks came to see Lyle Lovett play. I was there as well (most of the time) when there was not a seat in the house. Please reconsider this awful decision and save a piece of Austin that is priceless. Yours, Dr. William A. Nericcio, Director of The Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences at San Diego State University
    • Quote 2
      Matt said on Feb. 14, 2010 at 3:22 p.m.
      Please to not Kill this Austin Landmark. It would be a crime.
    • Quote 2
      Auston Holt said on Feb. 13, 2010 at 6:32 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, Please reconsider supporting the Texas Union Board's decision to close the Cactus Cafe. I have enjoyed many great concerts there through the years since being a student. My favorite concert ever was there June 22, 2009- Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson. Best, Auston Holt
    • Quote 2
      Tahni Handal said on Feb. 13, 2010 at 1:06 p.m.
      Love the Cactus! One of the best listening rooms there is...and what a history. We can't lose this one. We will certainly regret it. It is an important part of our music culture. Thank You, Tahni
    • Quote 2
      Joe Robertson said on Feb. 12, 2010 at 12:56 p.m.
      I am enormously disappointed at the decision to close the Cactus Cafe. It is a cultural institution that would be a sad loss and statement for the university. I know we need to be watching money everywhere we can, but this is just wrong. Whenever I see employees driving those little cars all over campus when they used to walk, see gasoline vehicles running while the vehicle is parked and an employee is smoking or reading the paper, or see grass being watered in the rain or when there has been plenty of rain recently I wonder why these things can't be looked into. I hope the university didn't have to pay for all the bad sculptures fairly recently added to campus. I bet there are considerably more fans of the Cactus Cafe than these truly weak artistic statements.
    • Quote 2
      Lurline Parish Russell said on Feb. 12, 2010 at 10:11 a.m.
      As a music lover and UT alum from the early days of the Austin music scene, I am appalled by the prospect of closing the Cactus Cafe. The presence of this world-renowned music venue on campus contributes just as much to our reputation as a world-class university as any art or literary collection! The closure or change in the management that makes the Cactus great will be an affront to all the arts.
    • Quote 2
      Evan said on Feb. 11, 2010 at 7:51 a.m.
      Bill, do you really want to be the guy that oversaw the dismantlement of the Cactus Cafe? Can't we just reach a little bit into that monstrous endowment fund we are always boasting about. I thought we raised a billion dollars a couple of years ago.
    • Quote 2
      Tish Jones said on Feb. 10, 2010 at 9:34 p.m.
      If the justification for closing the Cactus is due to the fact that it doesn't make money, perhaps we should close all of UT except for the football program. I can't believe that given the contribution this venue has made to The University, musicians, and Austin in general that someone would even consider closing it over $60,000 a year. A "top" university wouldn't do this.
    • Quote 2
      Mitchell Diaz said on Feb. 10, 2010 at 2:28 a.m.
      It just does not make sense. Cents perhaps, maybe even a few bucks, but not sense. But that is what happens when suits take over a university, when the academics are no longer running the show on campus at the high levels. And the exodus of Theresa Sullivan was just about the end of that era. Our loss was Michigan's and now Virginia's gain. Constituent demands to take back control of the PUF often get the attention of those that would otherwise not listen when they start manhandling Texas citizen's public endowments. This is a just, and just such an occasion for each and every one of us to call our State Reps and Senators and do just that. 122k. Please. Wait 'til they loose control of the PUF and the annual interest on it they get to invest, spend and play with -- and Texans have control back of their public institution. Go ahead, close the Cactus, in these times of Income Based Repayment when middle class parents are angry and already unable to send their kids to college. Go ahead and see what happens when we demand back control of the PUF -- and the so called FLAGSHIP, and academic "stars" have to start catering and teaching the common folk. Control of $16 billion dollars of our public oil and gas money predicated on UT failing to fulfill the mission of its charter -- to provide a higher education for all Texans is a legitimate demand -- or you could just spend 122k and keep the Cactus (70k) plus Informal classes (52k) open. Seems like pretty simple political calculus to me. It's about time the dog started wagging its tail again instead of the other way around. And all over 122k? Anyway, it is ours, UT and the CACTUS, not theirs, and they, the Board of Regents, serve us, not the other way around.
    • Quote 2
      Rachel said on Feb. 9, 2010 at 12:29 p.m.
      Please save the Cactus Cafe! Don't close it down! It's a great music venue, a place to relax on campus, and a historical monument to UT life! Also, informal classes are super important for the well being of our community as a whole.
    • Quote 2
      Sandra Vanway said on Feb. 8, 2010 at 9:50 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, Please do not close The Cactus Cafe. I think you must realize in a town like Austin where music is a huge thing, that venues like the Cafe, are a important part of our history of our music's past and possibly of our music's future. I have a son who is majoring in music and those type of venues are what keep kids like him alive musically at times. The University does a huge good in a town like this, more than you realize and some of those items like Informal Classes and Cactus Cafe have far reaching impact. Please reconsider these items. Thank you for your consideration.
    • Quote 2
      Dr. Suzanne Seriff said on Feb. 8, 2010 at 11:08 a.m.
      Dear President Powers, I am a folklorist, teaching in the anthropology department, and an active member of the American Folklore Society and national consultant with the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, NEH and other national governmental institutions on the preservation and celebration of cultural heritage sites throughout the United States and worldwide. THe Cactus Cafe is one of Austin's most renowned and important of such national cultural treasures--not only locally, but in terms of the national heritage of Texas-based folk music and tradition. As such, it should not only be maintained at all costs, but should also be documented, archived and preserved as part of our national heritage of traditional music venues that have incubated and supported such notable master tradition bearers as Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walkers, Marsha Bol, Lyle Lovett, Willis Alan Ramsey, Ray Willie Hubbard, Caroline Wonderkind, and many many more. Such heritage sites are receiving national and international attention as national treasures worthy of record and preservation, and it would be a sin to let this national cultural heritage site die to add a few pennies to our Universities' coffers.
    • Quote 2
      Anish Malpani said on Feb. 7, 2010 at 5:22 p.m.
      President Powers, Please, please, please, with all the power that you have, please try and prevent the closing down of the Cactus Cafe. Over the years, it has become one of the signature places of Austin for live, intimate music. A step to prevent its closure would be loved and appreciated by most of the Austin public.
    • Quote 2
      David Cisneros said on Feb. 6, 2010 at 11:33 p.m.
      Please do not close the Cactus Cafe. It's practically the last Great Music Venue that is left in Austin. It is a piece of Austin History. Please bring up some other alternatives to save the Cactus. Perhaps the alumni can take over it? Musicians? Celebrities? They have money.
    • Quote 2
      Emery Berger said on Feb. 6, 2010 at 8:10 p.m.
      I am a UT PhD alum and now a professor at another fine state institution facing the ubiquitous budget issues. While I am sympathetic to the need to cut costs, this is manifestly a gigantic miscalculation. Closing the Cactus will save virtually no money (less than 1% of the requested budget cut!) while destroying an iconic institution for UT, Austin, and the music industry. Find somewhere else to cut, or adopt a more creative solution, like the "Save the Cactus" fee mooted above.
    • Quote 2
      Brad Hafner said on Feb. 6, 2010 at 7:52 p.m.
      Dear President, I would like to get to the point quickly. Please keep the Cactus Cafe's Doors open at its current location. The is one of Austin and The University of Texas great gems!
    • Quote 2
      Daniel Sylvester said on Feb. 6, 2010 at 6:17 p.m.
      I also believe that the Cactus Cafe should remain open. It is an institution at UT and in Austin and it seems a shame to close it down only because there is a rough patch in the economy. Maybe there is another (undisclosed) reason for shutting down the Cactus that isn't being discussed publicly? Regardless, I think you can see that shutting down the club would be a bad mark on your legacy.
    • Quote 2
      Janet Gilmore said on Feb. 6, 2010 at 6:02 p.m.
      Since the early 80's, I've spent countless nights listening to amazing music at the Cactus Cafe. It is a place where songs can be heard. Real songs. Music from the heart. By the end of any evening at the Cactus, I'm watching and listening in amazement at the beauty and the magic of it all. I know this is a shared experience for hundreds and thousands of Austin-ites. And, each time I go there, I run into tourists and music fans from across the country and the world. By providing a venue where real songs can be heard, Grif and the staff at the Cactus have served up magic and beauty for me, for the Austin community and for the world. The Cactus Cafe is a special place and I do not believe it will be easy to justify closing the Cactus and ending this tradition where so much music and magic can be found. We all know that nothing lasts forever, but please consider whether this is a necessary extermination of this rare and special place.
    • Quote 2
      Cary Peele BBA 1983 said on Feb. 6, 2010 at 10:05 a.m.
      Can this be true? I had to read the story twice. Thought I was imagining things... Without providing even a reference to a valid study of why the Cactus is to be closed appears to be a biased personal decision and seems reckless and self serving to the bureaucracy’s agenda. The Cactus Café is an icon and something UT should be as proud of as the HRC. What is the world coming to when we can pay millions for sports but can’t scrounge what amounts to pocket change for the campus living room? If the Cactus is closed on Mr. Powers' watch he will certainly be remembered... and I doubt this type of decision will encourage thousands of alumni to donate money to the University when it cannot be trusted to protect a beloved and symbolic place that is embedded in our culture and consciousness - the Cactus Cafe.
    • Quote 2
      Catherine Graves said on Feb. 5, 2010 at 10:43 a.m.
      I am a former UT student and a devoted fan of the Cactus Cafe. Grif Lundberg has done an amazing job for over 30 years of assembling the finest musicians in the world and bringing them on campus... to the people who love them... in a small, intimate setting that is unlike anything else in Austin! Whatever it takes, what funds need to be raised, what pledges it will take... I will support to keep the Cactus Cafe open. To take away this venue from people who love live music, love UT and love Austin is a tragedy. Shame on the UT board for this action. I hope that fans will be outraged enough to stop them from closing this iconic institution that embodies everything great about live music in Austin!
    • Quote 2
      Stephanie said on Feb. 4, 2010 at 7:26 p.m.
      Please do not close down the Cactus Cafe. It is an institution at UT. There are so many changes going on right now. Please keep this constant that has meant so much to so many for so long.
    • Quote 2
      Jan Zollars said on Feb. 4, 2010 at 6:11 p.m.
      How extraordinary that UT is so blind to the on-going destruction of Austin. Look up the road. Do you really want your city to be a clone of Houston? Tear it down, close it up, displace the people, build, build, build... Houston is nothing more than cement and traffic, but Austin has a name, has a history, has influence in art and music, it inspires. Cactus Cafe doesn't belong to Austin, it belongs to to all of us that pass its door. Do none of you at UT dare to take a stand instead of hiding behind excuses? What's happened to our leaders?
    • Quote 2
      Tomoko Ikeda said on Feb. 4, 2010 at 9:22 a.m.
      Dear President Powers, I graduated from UT (Ph.D. in Communication Studies, 2007) and have taken pride in being a UT alum. I received excellent education there and enjoyed working with many wonderful colleagues. I have so many fond memories from my 6.5 years in Austin, but what I remember most after moving back to my country (Japan) is the Cactus Cafe. As a student, I attended shows there on a regular basis. There is no other place where you can feel the music and stories told by wonderful singer/songwriters in such a respectful listening environment. The Cactus Cafe has been voted the Best Acoustic Venue in Austin Music Polls for years. To me, it is the best venue anywhere, and I know a lot of people agree with me. In fact, many music fans around the world appreciate the Cactus Cafe. Last February, I flew from Tokyo to Austin precisely because I wanted to see shows at the Cactus. I watched a video of the town hall meeting and was shocked to find that you do not seem to be aware what you are about to destroy. The Cactus Cafe is not just another music venue that comes and goes. It is recognized internationally for its cultural significance and the quality of art and services it provides, thanks to the dedication of Mr. Griff Luneburg and his staff. It is IRREPLACEABLE. No one is entitled to put an end to the history and art cultivated by the Cactus. It exemplifies and presents the best in American music. No one would propose to close the Smithsonian American Art Museum because we all know it would be a crime to do so. The decision to close the Cactus is doing tremendous harm to the reputation of the university. Finally, about the audiences at the Cactus Cafe: The Cactus has served as an excellent link between the university's current students and alums as well as with people in the community who are not connected to the university. If this is not "education," what is? Also, it is important to give young people (or anybody) a chance to correct mistakes they have made. Please do not close the Cactus Cafe. The loss will be unmeasurable.
    • Quote 2
      Marian Morris said on Feb. 4, 2010 at 8:44 a.m.
      President Powers, I am a student and an employee of UT and I think you should find a way to keep the Cactus Cafe open. I was there most recently to see the Twang Twang Shock a Boom reunion, and I've seen other beloved artists there as well, and I see plenty! of other students (and staff) there too. $66,000 is just not that much money to go ahead and put in to the Cactus to keep it going. Please!, keep it open!
    • Quote 2
      Adam said on Feb. 4, 2010 at 2:12 a.m.
      Doesn't the Union run as a separate entity from the University? The drag is already a far cry from what many UT alums I speak with remember. Places like Cactus Cafe, the Union Underground, and Hole in the Wall are traditions worth keeping. They link the many generations of Longhorns in spite of the fact that much of campus has changed so much throughout the years. I would hate to return to campus in ten years and have Cactus Cafe reduced to a fact recited by tour guides. Please help keep this tradition alive! How many musicians received a start here? How many student had their first beer after turning 21 here? This area of campus has too much history to simply shut down in favor of renting it to some big company, who has no knowledge or appreciation for UT.
    • Quote 2
      Marc O'Shaughnessy said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 9:17 p.m.
      The Statesman reported that the Cactus is $66,000 short. If shows happen just 300 days per year, that's $220 per show that they're short. If the Cactus operates at 2/3 capacity, or 100 people, that works out to $2.20 per person per show. Could they not add a "Save the Cactus" surcharge to the admission fee, or raise drink prices as well to cover that amount? I'm quite willing to pay extra to save my favorite Austin venue.
    • Quote 2
      George Richardson said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 5:40 p.m.
      President Powers, I worked for the University of Texas at Austin for twenty seven years before I retired. I'm so glad I am retired because there are a lot of people angry at you who can't say what they would like to, but I can. I think the University was the best thing that ever came into my life and I loved it like a partner, until they turned mean. After that I never trusted them again and I retired as soon as I was old enough. UT took a toll on me that will last the rest of my life. Your short sighted plan is just another knife in the back of the Austin Community that made your job possible. Peter Flawn didn't close it, Dollar Bill Cunningham didn't close it, Hans Mark was a wise man, I respected Dr. Faulkner and I'm sure I've forgotten some others. In summation, do you want your legacy to be the man who closed the Cactus Cafe? Come on down on Monday night and I'll buy you a beer and pay your admission. I'm not kidding.
    • Quote 2
      Jackie Gaston said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 4:47 p.m.
      I feel that the cultural value of the Cactus is being grossly overlooked in this debacle. Not everything can be evaluated in terms of dollars and cents. How poor would we be without music and art?
    • Quote 2
      Jeff E said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 2:23 p.m.
      When I was at UT (85-90) the Cactus Cafe existed as an oasis for students, faculty, campus workers and Austin residents (as did the late great Texas Tavern and Texas Union Films). From this confluence sprang the Cactus’ greatest benefit and purest joys: to have a beer or coffee and talk to a professor, outside the classroom, about things that had nothing to do with academics, to talk as people. To "get the skinny" about what was going on around campus and around town from other people who worked on campus that you'd otherwise never encounter in a person to person setting. To share that space with other students, Austin residents, alumni, and just-passing-through-ers and talk about what was and what is and what we thought might be. For me, the coming together of people, whether for a performance or just to sit and do a crossword stands as the Cactus’ enduring strength. What better gift to give the students yet to come than to preserve that possibility. It is a place where we are together. Informal classes provide that same benefit. They let us dip our toes into things that interest us. They are springboards to further learning. Important.
    • Quote 2
      Brandy Jo LeBlanc Miller said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 2:11 p.m.
      Questions: When did the Texas Union Board decide this? Are the minutes of the meeting available to the public? When will the proposed closure be submitted to the Board of Regents? Who will be presenting the proposal to the Facilities Committee, and will this take place on Feb 4 at around 1 p.m. in Dallas? Is the closing of the Cactus part of the TEXAS UNION BUILDING RENOVATION-Amendment of the FY2010-2015 Capital Improvement Program to Include Project; approval of total project cost; appropriation of funds; and resolution regarding parity debit that is mentioned in the Board of Regents Agenda on page 268? WE need to know when this PROPOSED decision will be brought before the Board of Regents.
    • Quote 2
      Sarah Heath said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 12:49 p.m.
      At first I thought this had to be a hoax. Closing the Cactus Cafe proves every outsider's negative preconceptions of UT. No personality, no love, no heart, no art, no identity, no history, no tradition. The Cactus is an international attraction and the money saved by closing is trivial. This institution has become a corporation that craps on students, alum, and Austinites on high. You can't always survive on the football team alone. What happened to being community for all students?
    • Quote 2
      Trevor Lovell said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 11:28 a.m.
      The time taken by the president, PR personnel, and the hit to the UT brand in Austin is costing the University far more than they can hope to save. If you have even 1 major donor think twice about whether or how much to contribute this year out of anger at such a dumb move, what will that cost you?
    • Quote 2
      Megan said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 11:04 a.m.
      I know a lot of people are talking about the Cactus Cafe, an issue which I agree with the majority of posters here advocating that it stay where it is. I am not a student of UT, but I am a member of the community and have always felt UT was integrated into the Austin community. Over the years, several things have happened or have been in the works- firstly the issue of the Brackenridge Tract. I wasn't very happy with that situation, but I could potentially learn to live with it. Fast forward a few months and now we have the issue of the Cactus Cafe and the phasing out of Informal Classes. As a St. Ed's graduate, I have enjoyed what Informal Classes have to offer. My family has done so, as well. If cost with Informal Classes is an issue, why not get rid of printing the brochures and posting the classes online? I wouldn't mind paying $1-5 for an Informal Class brochure, either. Also, non-popular classes could be pared down. I am ashamed to live in a town where the largest University wants to cut ties off with the community. I think Informal Classes have been extremely beneficial to those who don't nessecarily wish to take formal classes with grades, tuitions, or $200 textbooks. It gives us a valuable life-learning experience. Once these are done away with, what is next? Will you force the shut down of the distance learning program, too? I wish I could understand where your decisions are coming from, and I wish you could understand where our words are coming from, but some of us feel like we cannot create any kind of dialogue with those who are unwilling to listen. Perhaps there needs to be a different Town Hall meeting in which you can actually engage in conversation and listen to the multitudes of brainstormed options over 16,000 people have been bringing to you. At the end of the day, it isn't about the Cactus Cafe or the Informal Classes, but it is about how the community will commune with the University over time.
    • Quote 2
      Michael Kenna said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 10:53 a.m.
      To close the Cactus Cafe in the wake of million(s) of dollar's in bonus monies to the football coach, really says it at. The University of Texas does not care about musical culture, only UT football. Many, many fine artist's have played there, so where is the Historic Society of Texas? Move this local institution to the, soon to be former, Austin City Limits venue which is on campus. Or, perhaps, some other local spot, every realtor knows there is a glut of available space in and around the downtown area. A minor surcharge on football tickets alone could fund the Cactus Cafe for decades to come. "Austin as the Live Music Capital of the World" is a very hollow and gutless boast. It is stupid to ruin such a fine institution such as the Cactus Cafe in a short sighted hasty decision, And yes, why not tear down the tower to to make way for a fast food court. This whole idea is disgusting. The University even refused to rebuild the Medical school in Galveston, Texas. This is face of UT.
    • Quote 2
      Robert Steel said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 10:42 a.m.
      I moved here two years ago, yet for years I've known The Cactus Cafe. The reputation it has worldwide as a premier music venue is stellar. Not simply because of the name, but because of that room and who has been in it and who has specifically stepped foot on that single spot. The first time walking into it was breath-taking. All the history in that tiny little space. There are other options to explore here and a community that is eager to support it. Had anyone known that it was doing anything other than making a lot of money we would have done something about that. I hope that you are willing to embrace the community and explore other options. Taking away history is a terrible and short-sided thing to do. Please work with us. This community loves and wants it to be there and continue being one the greatest venues in the world that the University can be proud of. Please, work with us.
    • Quote 2
      Kim N. said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 10:17 a.m.
      I too, understand that sacrifices need to be made. I have made them ever since I took employment at this University. However many times I hear the budget explained, you can not tell me that football and culture zero each other out, or that football is more important than educational options, preserving culture, and faculty and staff salaries. Music is culture, and one whose history is often lost due to budget cuts in many industries. There are A LOT of people in this town who enjoy venues that do not have anything to do with football. The whole university and community will be paying for that stadium, and paying for the most expensive college football coach's salary in history, in many ways, for a very long time to come.
    • Quote 2
      Sara said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 10:14 a.m.
      The Cactus Cafe is not only a music landmark of Austin but a site where community is built among the student body. From the outdoor seating area to the quiet interior, its a perfect place to study with a friend or take a break during the day.
    • Quote 2
      Lola said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 9:56 a.m.
      Cactus Cafe has been apart of Austin's community for many years; it is what makes Austin unique and it has become an intricate part of Austin. So much so, that we are willing to scream for it, defend it, fight for it. You claim that this decision is best for UT, but listen to the response, hear us and our angry outcry...you will see that this is not the best decision. When you shut down the Cactus, you will be shutting down a part of Austin. Stand up and take a bow sir.
    • Quote 2
      Doug Baron said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 9:07 a.m.
      Adding my voice to the distraught crowd: The Cactus is indeed THE BEST venue in Austin for live music. When friends visited recently from Seattle, seeing Slaid Cleaves at the Cactus was the one show I singled out for them. PLEASE keep this jewel of Austin for generation to come.
    • Quote 2
      Claire Miner said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 9:06 a.m.
      I am a therapist with the SIMS Foundation (providing low-cost mental health counseling services to musicians) and have been since its inception in 1996. During this time, I have worked with many local musicians and have had the privilege of watching many of them perform at the Cactus Cafe. I am asking you to find another solution to your financial problems - musicians in this community will be heartbroken and disillusioned if you allow the Cactus to die, as well as community patrons of the Cactus. Please find another solution.
    • Quote 2
      wch said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 9:03 a.m.
      With all due respect, I could care less about the closing of the Cactus Cafe. This meeting was supposed to be about the budget reallocation and the 5% budget reduction. I cannot believe it was high-jacked by a discussion of the closing of a business that hadn't turned a profit for years. My more pressing question is will I have a job? A 5% reduction of our department is equal to 4 positions. We have already trimmed the fat in our department and now they are asking for more. Is the 5% reduction code for mandatory layoffs? When does this reduction start? Will it be every year? These are the questions that should have been asked. Already we are being told there will be not staff merit increases for the next three years. Where is the outrage about that?
    • Quote 2
      Linda Briscoe Myers said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 8:21 a.m.
      Dr. Powers, the Cactus is an institution, and I know that word is thrown around a lot, but in this case it is the absolute truth. Literally every alum I know is completely appalled at the very suggestion of this as a possibility, let alone being basically told it is a done-deal with no input from the community. The University should consider the needs of the community and its large alumni population as well as its current student population. I never visited the Cactus as an undergrad, but as a graduate student and now as a staff member I visit often. Please reconsider this extremely short-sighted action.
    • Quote 2
      Laura said on Feb. 3, 2010 at 7:48 a.m.
      As a staff member, I find it hard to believe that people who are opposed to closing the Cactus Cafe would make such outrageous claims about the administration's goals. Would you prefer that the university lay off more people? What about health care? Maybe you'd have us give that up so a music venue can stay open. I'm the parent of three UT Austin graduates -- not one of whom ever set foot in the Cactus Cafe or took an informal class -- but they all received outstanding educations. I'm sure the Cafe hosts great musicians and that informal classes are nice; but I doubt seriously that they contribute to the quality of the educational experience for our students. Most of the people at this university work hard and care about their work. And I would guess that most of them think if closing the Cactus Cafe and stopping informal classes will save money and free up space (and save jobs in the long run), then it's probably a good idea. Not every decision should be made by the public or by a committee that includes only the most vocal opponents of something. (If there were a "democratic" vote on this issue, I imagine the majority of thoughtful voters would select this option over others.) Sometimes leaders have to make tough choices; trying to find the ones that will have the least negative impact in these trying times is something for which the university should be commended.
    • Quote 2
      Mark Schmitt said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 11:58 p.m.
      This cafe is a cultural and historical landmark in Austin, TX. If it were managed correctly by the University of Texas, it would serve as a template for Austin Musicians and University of Texas students in the benefit cultural diversity and the music department. Use it as a way to attract students to UT. What you are doing is devastating to a community and culture. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9LKCSFCKj8
    • Quote 2
      Wiley Koepp said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 11:47 p.m.
      The Cactus Cafe is something that makes the UT Student Union unique from any other university's student union. Not many universities have a world-renowned live music venue within their walls. If removed, and then especially if replaced by perhaps another chain restaurant, the Texas Student Union will become less "Texas" and more generic "student union." Please work with the community to retain what makes our university and its student union so very special.
    • Quote 2
      Blake DeLong said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 8:29 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, I am not an important alumnus of the university, but I do hold two degrees and a great big bold passion for all things Texas. I have great memories of the Cactus and I want you to know that I, for one, would think it a great shame if it were closed. Please consider the importance of preserving a piece of history as Austin and UT continue to evolve at lightening speed. Long live the Cactus Cafe!
    • Quote 2
      Marie said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 7:24 p.m.
      The Cactus Cafe is where the University's soul is and shares a wonderful history with the city of Austin. It harbors many great memories of shows, friends, etc. It is one of the most intimate and exclusive venues for music. I saw soo many amazing shows there as a student and looked forward to visiting when back in Austin this March. I am truly devastated to hear of it's closing doors. I can definitely understand concern for layoffs and tuition costs, but tuition has been steadily increasing due to several governing factors in and outside the University since it's inception. Funding also comes from Texas Exes and private donors. Perhaps, over the past couple of years that resource has suffered. Countless debates will happen due to costs and where the extra funds will go, as it always has. The Tower is the University's image but the Cactus Cafe is it's soul. It may not be as apparent as the Tower, but it will sadden others and myself equally to see it gone. If we can't keep it in the Union, move it elsewhere on campus!
    • Quote 2
      Rod Gustafson said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 6:08 p.m.
      I find it impossible to believe that closing the Cactus Cafe is the best solution the the financial problems of the University. Please re-visit this option. It is not only the best place I have ever been to hear music, but it attracts musicians who come only to the Cactus and not other Austin venues (Dougie MaClean, Michael Smith, John Gorka, etc.). If you have to move it, fine. But keep it alive somewhere on the campus. I have been going to the Cactus since it opened in my undergraduate days 40 years ago. I will be glad to assist in further discussions of this issue if that will help. Thank you.
    • Quote 2
      IvyG said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 5:59 p.m.
      Please stop talking about the CACTUS CAFE! And talk about real, important issues. I understand the passion behind the impending closure, but people, get real! We should be talking about layoffs and tuition increases!
    • Quote 2
      Vance Tilton said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 5:27 p.m.
      The Cactus is THE BEST venue in Austin for live music. PLEASE reconsider and don't close it down......
    • Quote 2
      John Kruth said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 5:19 p.m.
      I am the author of To Live's To Fly - the Ballad of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt - DaCapo Books (winner of 2007 Deems Taylor/ASCAP award for musical biography) and am appalled to hear that UT is considering closing "the Vatican of Texas music." Years ago I arrived in Austin, looking forward to returning to the legendary Antones, only to find a CVS in its place. I'm a New Yorker, live in Greenwich Village near NYU. A few years ago NYU actually tore down Edgar Allen Poe's house despite protests from locals, (who included Lou Reed and Patti Smithamongst their ranks ) to build a new student activities center. What in the world do they plan on doing with this hallowed hall? - Angry and appalled - Truly, John Kruth
    • Quote 2
      Texas Alum said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 5:13 p.m.
      Make all institutions democratic. Sad that the Cactus Cafe distraction will now take all the attention off what should've been two hours of very tough questions about the budgetary issues, layoffs, tuition increases, and overall privatization scheme. Of course the Cactus should remain open, but where was the community outrage about the recent layoffs? About the ongoing privatization? Convenient this headline-grabbing decision about the Cactus Cafe was announced right before this town hall, no? Why do we continue to let these people make decisions for us? Decisions that affect our lives, our families, and the education of the next generation of Texans? Powers isn't going to say anything substantive. He can't. He's a figurehead of the elites behind the curtain. Democracy now.
    • Quote 2
      David Dismukes said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 4:42 p.m.
      I was very distaught to hear of the plans to close the Cactus Cafe. The Cactus has filled a unique place in Austin's musical heritage for many years, giving a large number of outstanding young musicians a wonderful place to hone their skills and provide some excellent music shows. Some notable examples would be Lyle Lovett, Nancy Griffith, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, etc. It would be a terrible tragedy to lose this important venue. Surely there is some way to avoid this.
    • Quote 2
      Michael Greene said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 4:25 p.m.
      President Powers, I cannot believe that the Cactus will be closing. So many great performers have been a part of its venue. When I was enrolled at the University from 1977 to 1981 (BA Government 1981) we were all proud to be able to say that at that time we had the only live music establishment on campus available to the general public. Even North Texas State (now UNT) with its world renowned 'Lab Band' could not make that claim. After having worked in the restaurant industry for many years I concluded that the Cactus employed first-rate personnel and provided exceptional service and libations as well as great entertainment. Please reconsider closing the Cactus.
    • Quote 2
      Tadgh said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 4:18 p.m.
      Dear Sirs, You may as well demolish the Tower while you are at it. You are killing the University's soul. On top of it all, you are getting very poor advice from your subordinates. Listen to the people, man.
    • Quote 2
      Kirk Van Praag said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 4:14 p.m.
      Dr. Powers I am pretty sure that most know that our country, our state and our University are going through troubled economic times. Most also know that certain measures must be taken to get through this. The question is not whether some sacrifice needs to made, but what needs to be sacrificed, and who will bear the burden. I have read all the previous comments, as I know you will eventually, the one common thread and theme is the feeling that the sacrifices already made and the future ones planned have not been shared equally by all. Cutting the Informal Classes, which has been a great benefit to many Texans and taxpayers, along with closing the Cactus, which also has brought pride to the University and the community is shockingly short sighted for a World Renown educational institution, which the University Texas has been known. Part of the shock I am sure comes from the feeling that no real input was asked for before the decisions were made. As a former student, current University of Texas employee, and fellow Texan, I believe in this University, and I believe we will get through all of this in time, but if we lose or trade away those things that truly make our University and community special, how will we look at and judge ourselves in the future? Who will we be?
    • Quote 2
      Liz Barnett said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 4:09 p.m.
      Over the years, my husband and I have attended many shows at the Cactus Cafe including performances by Robin Williamson, Tannehill Weavers, John Renbourne, and Patty Griffin to name a few favorites. My husband has also performed on the Cactus Cafe stage in two different bands. Few places can match the intimate connection that exists between performer and audience as it does at the Cactus Cafe. My husband is also a graduate of UT holding both a BA and MA. The Cactus, as affectionately known by us and many many others, is more than a friendly place to drink beer, and more than a cherished music venue. It is a valuable cultural link, connecting UT with the greater community. For us, it is a reason (other than sports events) to revisit the UT campus again and again, years after graduation. It is a place we have taken utmost pride in sharing with others. Please consider all creative options available to keep from closing this much loved institution. Please make the thoughts and concerns of Texas alumni part of the equation in your decision-making process.
    • Quote 2
      David Hill said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 3:49 p.m.
      Dear President Powers - I'm writing to ask that you allow the Cactus Cafe to remain open indefinitely. The Cactus Cafe is a unique and magical small venue. There is no other venue in Austin quite like it. With all of the other ways that UT could save a little money, it seems unfathomable to allow the Cactus Cafe to close. Where else can you see acts ranging from Billy Joe Shaver to David Garza and so many others of diverse styles and talents in such an intimate and nearly sacred environment? I posit to you that closing the Cactus Cafe would be tantamount to razing a church dedicated to the religion of music. There are so many other less important things that UT could freeze or shut down before closing the Cactus. Regards, David Hill
    • Quote 2
      Roanna Flowers said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 3:31 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, surely in such a creative environment as Austin and UT, we can find ways of making the Texas Union and the Cactus Cafe profitable. I think Vance just rattled off four or five really good ideas. There has to be a better solution than simply closing the Cactus Cafe. It is an important part of this city. Think of how much less wonderful a place Austin would be without KUT or the Cactus Cafe? It begins to become ordinary, which really isn't what Austin or UT is about. I encourage you to look to inventive and innovative ideas for keeping the Cafe, how to better position it and other offerings by the Union. $100k is a lot to me; it's barely a blip on the UT budget.
    • Quote 2
      Laura Thomas said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 3:28 p.m.
      Dear President Powers & Texas Union Board of Directors, I would like to start with a quote from the University of Texas’ Mission Statement: “The University preserves and promotes the arts, benefits the state's economy, serves the citizens through public programs, and provides other public service.” I am writing this letter in response to Saturday’s announcement which would end both the Informal Classes and the revered Cactus Café. First, I would like to address the University’s comment that it is mainly the resident community who uses the Cactus Café. If this is an issue, what has UT done to market or sell the café to the students? What budget did UT allocate to educate and inform students about the Cactus Café and its programs? Also, if this is true that more non-students attend performances at the Cactus, what is the issue with this as UT has a mission statement stating it promotes the arts and benefits the greater community? I was born in Austin. I completed my Bachelors and Masters degrees from UT Austin. I went to the Cactus Café before I was a student, while I was a student and yes, after I was a student. I go shows at the Cactus on a regular basis. I have also taken informal classes in dance, art and writing. All of these “public programs” have enriched my life in ways that cannot be measured. To lose both programs would be a true loss to Austin culture and disservice to the greater community – which would go against the core of the University’s own Mission Statement. Lastly, I write as a music professional. I am a booking agent and every artist I represent has played at the Cactus Café. All of my artists who are singer songwriters will tell you there is no other venue in the country that measures up to the magic and beauty of the live show at the Cactus. I book venues all over the country and in Europe. The Cactus Café is a true gem, one of a kind, the benchmark or touchstone for all other listening rooms in the world. To lose it would make me lose faith in the town I grew up in, in the University where I studied and received my two degrees, and really humanity in general. I know that might sound extreme – but I value the arts and music more than any other art, and live music more than any other music. To lose the best venue I have ever been to and have ever worked with would leave me lost and musically homeless in my home town. To lose the Cactus Cafe would be to lose the heart and soul of the singer songwriter performing arts scene which in so many ways defines the Austin music scene and the city and University culture in general. I hope you can consider reversing the decision and keeping the Austin and University of Texas institution of the Cactus Café open. Sincerely, Laura Thomas ComboPlate Booking
    • Quote 2
      John Hurt said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 3:26 p.m.
      President Powers, I am a graduate, and law school graduate from U.T. and have been in Austin since 1978. In my opinion the proposed closing of the Cactus represents an enormous miscalculation of priorities for the school. The funds to maintain such a cherished institution are trickles in the big picture, and of course invisible as compared to some of the large programs the University sponsors. I challenge you to review your decision and if necessary to boost admission and or food/beverage prices if necessary to cover the costs, but please do not rush to amputate when a mere trip to the vitamin store will do. The music tradition behind the Cactus is so much more than one of mere entertainment. It is one of the last standing venues where some of the authentic legends of the music scene were conceived. It is tradition in the greatest sense of the term, and the legacy of your leadership would be placed in high status were you to protect the highly esteemed and much loved Cactus rather than allow it to become another historical marker. John Hurt
    • Quote 2
      Joseph Sherfy CPA said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 2:56 p.m.
      President Powers I am a graduate of the University of Texas and my mother docents at the Harry Ransom Center (and is a graduate as well). I too would like to urge you to find a way to keep the Cactus Cafe open. Through the Blanton Museum and Harry Ransom Center the University invests in works of art and through the Cactus Cafe as well. All three cater mainly to non students, but the Cactus provides musicians with a place to start their careers. Artist need a place to perform so that later they might be worthy of recognition at a place like the Harry Ransom Center.
    • Quote 2
      Zachary Rice said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 2:26 p.m.
      As a UT Alumni and avid music fan I was disappointed to hear the BoR decision to close the Cactus Cafe. One of the great pleasures to the UT student body and the community at large is having such a great and iconic institution located directly on campus for all to enjoy. Over the past decade, the face of Austin has changed dramatically. Most notably during the last 3 years of construction of downtown condos destroying the very heart of Austin. Recently ACL will located their studio down in the same location and the UT community will lose another great American institution. Please do not let the downturn in the economy end the future of the Cactus Cafe. The great state of Texas has been making budget cuts for years now and I personally don't see the state start supplying any more money to institutions of higher learning (such as UT) after it has been taken away. I ask you this....What is next cause I don't think that closing the Cactus Cafe and stopping informal classes will really solve your issue? I am proud to be a Texan and I'm proud to be a UT Alum. However, over the last few years I feel that UT and Texas have become complacent. Please don't jeopardize UT's credibility as being one of the best institutions in America. Please reconsider your decision to close the Cactus Cafe.
    • Quote 2
      David said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 2:14 p.m.
      There are many athletic/football boosters in Austin that also love the arts. The Cactus Cafe is a gem. It's part of what makes The University of Texas great. I will never give another dime to The Longhorn Foundation if this venue is closed. Additionally, I will be mailing all my Texas gear back to UT in August if this venue is closed. Many of my friends feel the same way I do. A decision to Close the Cactus Cafe will result in a huge net loss for Texas in money and PR. Live music is part of the fabric of Austin. Wake up.
    • Quote 2
      Stefanie Crock said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 2:01 p.m.
      Dear President Powers & the UT Board of Regents, Please reconsider getting rid of the Informal Classes program and closing the Cactus Cafe. The amount you are talking about saving ($122k) is so small and surely we can find other ways to come up with this money. For informal classes cut the ones that aren't profiting and increase the ones that are & raise the cost if need be. I've heard there are informal classes that have waiting lists right now. How about adding more of those? As for the Cactus Cafe, this is a piece of Austin music history. We have so few left. Surely a joint venture with the city, a private entity or maybe even stimulus money could be looked into. The thing that I think is angering the public the most is that you have done this in secret without input from the students or the local community. For a public institution, I think that is very unfortunate. Please reconsider this decision.
    • Quote 2
      Laura said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 1:47 p.m.
      PLEASE do not close the Cactus!
    • Quote 2
      Jason Gentry said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 1:07 p.m.
      Dear Boss, Many others have written more eloquently so I'll just ask a couple of questions as suggestions on how to keep the Cactus Cafe afloat. 1. How much does it cost to keep the all of the fountains going all year? I vote we freeze them; I wouldn't mind at all the water not spraying 100 ft. into the air. 2. How much does it cost to "re-grass" the south mall every April? Turf it; in the long run it'd be cheaper. 3. How about we sell the cactus cafe to Charles Attal or those kids from Transmission Entertainment? They seem to know how to turn a profit. 4. We could get the European kids to help finance it. Contrary to our own hip -hop youth culture, they LOVE American roots music. I bet they'd pay good euros for ppv rights during shows. OK, that is more than enough suggestions from me. I know you have a tough meeting this afternoon. I will be in my office working too (without raise). Best Regards, `jg
    • Quote 2
      Harmoni Kelley said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 1:06 p.m.
      As a graduate of UT Austin and a professional musician here in Austin, I feel saddened by the University's decision to close the Cactus Cafe, but unfortunately, not that surprised. The fact that live music venues in Austin continue to close year after year and yet we still like to call ourselves the "Live Music Capital of the World" is embarrassing. Music is such and important part of our culture here in this city and, for many of us, our livelihood. Why are we not protecting and coveting our music scene here in this city? I have played at the Cactus Cafe many times and been to countless shows there. Please, please, please do not close this venue down. It will be just another example of how this city is letting its once great music scene slip away
    • Quote 2
      George Oswald said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 1:05 p.m.
      The Cactus Cafe has been a magnificent representation of the spirit of the University in support of the exposure and growth of many Texas musicians. Please maintain this venue for the future on Texas music. It is impossible to imagine the loss if the University judges to close this jewel. ...George Oswald
    • Quote 2
      wayne white said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:46 p.m.
      as i posted elsewhere, the announcement of the closing of the cactus, came on the same weekend as the austin songwriter's group symposium. it was a shocked group as almost everyone had great memories, including sonny throckmorton. my point is that the cactus is an icon that has hosted so many national treasures (from our own townes van zandt to ray kane), that it's loss will have an impact that goes beyond the forty acres. my wife and i are UT alums who will join with others to stop contributing to the university that we love if they cannot find a way to save both the cactus and the informal classes.
    • Quote 2
      Ginnie said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:45 p.m.
      Hey, question. We're cutting budgets, lecturers, TA positions and raising tuition. When are you (Pres. Powers) going to take a pay cut? A 10% pay cut on your annual salary (Which, from what I've seen, is in the up $600,000) would pretty much pay for 3 TA appointments a year! Please ignore this if you have taken a hit to the wallet already... or really, another 10% wouldn't hurt too much, right?
    • Quote 2
      Babs said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:26 p.m.
      The Cactus Cafe is an Austin institution with a much broader base than just Austin. I have heard so many musicians that I might not have had the opportunity to hear because of the work of the staff and the support of UT. It isn't easy to park and walk and wait in line for events at the Cactus but we do it because there isn't anywhere else like it in Austin. Please reconsider your budget decision.
    • Quote 2
      Linda Meltzer said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:25 p.m.
      Please reconsider closing the Cactus Cafe. It is an important and integral piece of the UT community and Austin at large. When I was at UT Law School, the Cactus was a great place to come and unwind and listen to great music. I've lived in Austin since 1984 and I still come to concerts at the Cactus.
    • Quote 2
      Rob Turknett said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:23 p.m.
      As a UT alumnus who is very concerned about the decision to close Cactus Cafe, I wish this meeting were after work hours. I appreciate that it will be webcast, but will there be any way for us to submit questions or comments during the Q&A?
    • Quote 2
      Jessica Eddings-Roeser said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:15 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, The Cactus Cafe is a unique establishment on the UT campus, and it would be shameful to close it. It stands as a tribute to Texas Singer Songwriting history, an art and culture particular to our state and to Austin, and representative of the poetry, ideas, and musical capabilities treasured by the UT students and faculty. In addition, the Cactus provides a special place where students can meet with professors and their peers in the tradition of Oxford and Cambridge. As we thrive to be recognized as a top university, this small room demands respect as a part of the vibrant life at the University of Texas. Please do not close the Cactus Cafe. I agree with the comments of Vance Strickland when it comes to making it into a better business by exploring options. Thank you for your consideration.
    • Quote 2
      Jennifer Wieland said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:01 p.m.
      Please consider options for keeping the Cactus Cafe listening room open as a music venue. Closing it seems like an extreme step when reaching out to perhaps private investment might solve this issue. The Student Union has welcomed outside businesses in the past-- this could be one more, operating within certain parameters. I am a UT Alumni as well as an Austinite since childhood, and I know how the University impacts our city's culture. This is a crossroads. These budget concerns may pass, but in the meantime, lets please do something to prevent the loss of another of Austin's greatest treasures.
    • Quote 2
      Amber Quist said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 11:55 a.m.
      Closing the Cactus Cafe would be eliminating a piece of history and arguably the best acoustic venue in Austin. To take this away from the students and the public would be a great misfortune. Please reconsider.
    • Quote 2
      Jutta Strobel said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 11:54 a.m.
      The Cactus Cafe is such a unique place to see musicians perform: emerging and established ones, local, national and international musicians. I support keeping the Cactus Cafe open, and hope a way can be found to make it profitable.
    • Quote 2
      Steve Clark said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 11:52 a.m.
      The Cactus Cafe is an essential part of the foundation of the Live Music Capitol of the World. The informal classes involve the people of Austin with the University. Many universities look for a way to integrate with the community and spend money to do so. UT already has a great record because of these entities. Respect that success.
    • Quote 2
      Khadija said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 11:21 a.m.
      I am terribly disappointed that I will not be able to attend this meeting. The Informal Class Program is one of best examples of what the makes Austin unique. We are creative community and this outlet encourages self exploration and gives an opportuntiy to decide on new careers. PLEASE come up with a compromise such as offering just Spring and /or Summer classes - when it's more comfortable to get around outdoors or some other creative way of allowing this great service to continue in our community. PLEASE!!!
    • Quote 2
      Mary Kraemer said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 11:20 a.m.
      An open discussion needs to happen between the community and the Cactus Cafe as to what efforts can be done to save it, so people can stepup and step forward to help make the changes needed to make it a viable option for the university as well as it can continue to be a service to the community.
    • Quote 2
      richard said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 10:49 a.m.
      Don't Close The Cactus. Don't Close it. It is Austin. We can find ways to fund it.
    • Quote 2
      Diana Welsch said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 10:46 a.m.
      I love the Cactus Cafe. I've seen Slaid Cleaves, Adrian Legg, a Didgeridoo band, Bob Schneider, Karla Bonoff, Eliza Gilkyson and many more there. It's one of, or maybe the last of the tiny, intimate places where one can go and see a dynamite act. It's so UT Austin!
    • Quote 2
      Les McLain said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 10:40 a.m.
      Please at least give us a chance to save the Cactus Cafe, a treasured piece of Texas music history. I know we could raise the money.
    • Quote 2
      Amy said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 10:06 a.m.
      Please reconsider closing the Cactus Cafe. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?v=feed&story_fbid=1326490036412&id=1055733886#/SaveTheCactusCafe?ref=nf
    • Quote 2
      Miriam McKinney said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 9:53 a.m.
      Dear President Powers - The Cactus Cafe is an important part of the fabric of Austin's live music roots. Please do not let it close. I am a native Austinite and have been attending live music shows since junior high school. The Cactus Cafe, though just a small listening room, is important because it is a listening room. A place to savor the music without distraction. Additionally, it is housed within a great educational institution that has supported the arts in Austin in the past. As a UT Alum, I'm extremely saddened by the thought that UT would knowingly remove an important musical venue instead of working to keep it open. Let us know what needs to be done beyond just "budget cuts." This is not a good reason to deny this town one of it's most important musical landmarks.
    • Quote 2
      Vance Strickland said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 9:46 a.m.
      The Texas Union has been cutting services for years because they were not producing profits. Cutting the film program, cutting UT catering staff and opening franchising to get revenue, cutting remote outlets on campus, now the proposed cutting of the Cactus Cafe and Informal Classes! They still are not in the black. Rather than thinking "cuts" think about investments and rethink your marketing and branding strategies to take advantage of social media and new media. Cactus Cafe podcast? Team up with Parking to allow parking at UT garage with "validation" so Cactus patrons can park more easily? Let the Cactus take credit cards? Let the unit function as a real business unit? There are lots of good ideas out there.
    • Quote 2
      John Spitta said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 9:28 a.m.
      As a donor I will stop my donations if the Cactus Cafe is closed and encourage others to do so as well. Period. Since in my mind the very heart and soul of UT will have been ripped out. Not everyone donates simply because of the Athletics program!
    • Quote 2
      Sherie said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 9:23 a.m.
      Please rethink closing the Cactus! This is part of the cultural heritage of the UT campus. I think the University can do better than just "closing the doors". Music capitol of the world and our famous University can't even keep a famous music venue open? I think you can do better so please give it another chance.
    • Quote 2
      Michael Scully said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 9:10 a.m.
      I earned my Ph.D. at UT, and my wife and I are Center Stage members of UT's Texas Performing Arts program, due to our financial contributions. For years I purchased subscriptions to Bass Concert Hall's touring Broadway musical series. I've also attended the Cactus Cafe around 150 times, most recently in November 2009. For the record, I would have donated to the Cactus as well, but its UT website provides no vehicle for such donations. Consequently, it never occurred to me that donations were needed. I was appalled to pick up the Statesman and read of Juan Gonzalez saying that "operating a bar and venue for local artists" is not "what the Union ought to be doing." There is such unknowing derision in that statement. The Union's explicit mission includes the promotion of culture. Culture, quite often, is born in bars. The jazz that takes the stage at Bass, which UT uses to attract donors such as me -- born in bars, and on the streets. Emmy Lou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and many other fine roots music artists-- all attractive to donors-- have graced several different UT stages, charging pretty high fees. I've paid those fees, and had a good time. Do you know -- does Dr. Gonzalez know -- that they climbed to fame through bars, and that every month young artists every bit as talented appear at the Cactus for 10 bucks? Those artists face an industry climate far tougher than Emmy Lou did in her formative years. You may not know this, but your Cactus is nationally known. It's not some watering hole for inebriated townies. Some of the finest songwriters of the late 20th century have played there. Booking agents and record companies who work nationally place artists there. I suspect those artists are simply not of interest to those making these decisions. If the Cactus needs financial support, we can accomplish that. Let us show you. For me, close the Cactus and I'll direct my own financial support to the many worthy off-campus community arts groups that need it. As publicly as I can, I'll urge others to do the same. I don't like this. But we help those who will help us. I'll stop supporting Performing Arts and I'll never again make even a small donation to that other place -- the big building that UT helps sustain-- the one with all the art by non-students, many of whom are dead--the Blanton. Respectfully, Michael F. Scully Austin
    • Quote 2
      Christine S Berkland, M.A. said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 9:06 a.m.
      The Cactus Cafe has been important to the musical career of many a star. It has been proven that all study and no music or the arts makes the student a "dull" student; that is, music helps to get those neurons firing so that they know better what they know. The Cactus Cafe is a gift to the community & we alumna are always giving back. Find a way for it to pay for itself or find money for it somehow. Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World! What starts at UT changes the world.
    • Quote 2
      Michael Barrett said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 9:01 a.m.
      President Powers, I am a taxpaying citizen of the City of Austin. I have been here twenty years and have been on and around the University campus as a student, for work, attending sporting events, cultural events, films and yes the Cactus Cafe. My family has taken Informal Classes. Our out of town and international visitors are invariably shown the campus and its many museums and other points of interest. My children have been studied at the child development lab; In all, I consider U.T. to be a valuable and important part of this community. I have a difficult time understanding the closure of the Union programs, in particular the Cactus Cafe. I wonder why the two programs' budgets are reported as a single item. I question if the Union Board was given any more precise accounting than the generalizations and vague accounting reported to the public. Is there a reason we don't have actual data to show what each program's costs and income are, for how many budget cycles each has lost money, and exactly how many students are losing other opportunities because of the existence of the Cactus and the Classes. We aren't even told how many student use the programs, just offered an unsupported "not very many." All these shortcomings of actual facts are troubling, but I really have just one question: How much will it cost to save them? I have always enjoyed and supported the University of Texas as a valuable part of the city and the citizens here. It would be nice to see this work both ways today. Lets work together to find the money to keep these resources available to all.
    • Quote 2
      Jan King said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 8:56 a.m.
      Can we consider a way to make the Cactus profitable or break even instead of assuming there is no way to do so? I, for one, would be more than happy to pay higher ticket prices in order to keep the doors open. The Cactus Cafe is an Austin icon and is part of the soul of this city. PLEASE find a way to save it! The community will help in anyway possible.
    • Quote 2
      Stephen Ford said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 8:49 a.m.
      Certainly, I cannot understand why the University of Texas would be so quick to want to destroy such a historic institution in the Austin music scene. Perhaps it's profitability, and certainly, fiscal responsibility is a must, but where do we draw the line between educational value and profitability? I'd like to know how much interest that GUTENBERG Bible and world's first photo is incurring...and when exactly the University plans to cash in on those two items to replace the Ransom Center Lobby with the Ransom Taco Bell Center. Fifty years from now I would like to think the University would look back at this idea as a blow to the University's rich and diverse culture and history rather than a fiscal necessity.
    • Quote 2
      Mike Dellens said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 8:17 a.m.
      I have attended several concerts at the Cactus Cafe and I think it is a wonderful place to hear music. Although I am not a member of the UT community, I feel it is important for UT to maintain a positive relationship with the community it is in. Look at programs like Neighborhood Longhorns. Anyway, have you considered the possible negative reaction from the community and the perception in the community that UT doesn't care? Thanks, Mike
    • Quote 2
      Sara Hickman said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 8:14 a.m.
      As UT is an institute of higher learning, please use the creative minds available to come up with an alternate solution to closing what is a national/historical place. The relationship of listeners and performers is a rare gift UT has bestowing upon generations of songwriters and Austinites and those from around the world. Keep Austin the live music capital of the world by keeping it's premier listening room. I have a plethora of ideas that I am happy to share if you would like to meet in person. I shall have faith the Cactus isn't closing or moving. Please keep the heart of Austin's music scene alive. Gratefully, Sara Hickman/Official State Musician of Tx, May 2010-May 2011
    • Quote 2
      Nathan Hamilton said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 8:06 a.m.
      Dear Mr. Powers and the Texas Union Board of Directors, It is with much concern and respect that I write to you this morning, having learned of the potential fate of the Cactus Cafe. I cannot imagine the degree of responsibility, expectation and pressure that must come with your position. I am a songwriter and a carpenter. My days are relatively simple. Spent by turns with a guitar or hammer in hand. I cannot and do not claim to know or understand the managerial inner workings and fiscal machinations of such a massive institution like the University of Texas. It must be daunting to be faced, on a daily basis, with decisions that will affect the lives of thousands of people in a myriad of ways. I do, however, know the affect that has already been had on thousands of people at the very idea of shutting down the Cactus Cafe. At this very moment, in cafes and clubs and living rooms from Austin to Amsterdam, from Tokyo to Terlingua, there are conversations and laments of concern, sadness and anger at the possibility. I do not know your personal passions or interests and I am sure that you must temper them by degree so as not to allow them to weigh in on policy and decision making regarding the interests of the University. But I would ask that each and every one of you listen deeply and consider greatly, the concerns of those who are in disagreement with this proposal. For a great wave of resistance is headed your way. The idea that a legendary venue like the Cactus would be reduced to a "budget cut" is staggering. The Cactus Cafe is one of the most respected and revered venues world wide by both audiences and performers. The table of our city and it's very image is supported by four main legs of industry. Education, government, high tech and live music. The city is repeatedly sold to tourists around the globe as the "Live Music Capital of the World." Many believe the Cactus Cafe to be the very heart of it. I have toured for many years across this country and others and can tell you that the Cactus is a very special and unique place. What lies before you as a name on a list to be drawn through and marked off due to cut backs, is nothing short of sacred. What takes place in the space within those four walls transcends "entertainment." There are many voicing concern over the exorbitant salaries of the coaches at UT and the extreme imbalance of finances between departments in general. I certainly can't claim to know how much of that ,if any, actually comes to play in all of this, but you must recognize the inevitable comparisons that will be made. And while I do not belittle the value and merit of the sport of football and it's provision of joy, entertainment and cultural bonding for the masses, I would call into question it's bulldozing, (whether blatantly or covertly) over the interests and passions of others, be it music, science art or history. I realize that in the scope of hardships and tragedies that humanity has and will endure, by comparison, the loss of a musical venue is a paltry concern. But what is potentially being lost and fought for here is so much more than a piece of real estate or usable space. Broken hearts and homes have been healed through music and the sharing of the human experience through the medium, through the ages. People on the brink of stepping away from this world have been brought back to it through the power of song. Melodramatic as that may sound, it is the truth. Thousands of people through many years have been moved, comforted and recognized by a story or sentiment, sung or spoken ,with wit or sorrow, from that stage. I have been witness to that at the Cactus Cafe, both as listener and as a performer. The Cactus has been home to the exchange that happens in a darkened room full of strangers who have come together in anticipation, with all of their hopes, hurts, dreams and doubts. A shared experience through melody, word, laughter and tear. A community of spirit. The worth of that is immeasurable. For that reason alone the Cactus should be left undisturbed to remain the spiritual meeting place that it is. So I ask you all, out of respect for the storytelling tradition, the legacy of the Cactus Cafe and the stirring of hearts and minds through song, please reconsider the proposal before you and maintain the honesty and integrity of our city slogan, "The Live Music Capital of the World." Yours, Nathan Hamilton
    • Quote 2
      P.D. Jolley said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 7:55 a.m.
      I was surprised to learn that the Cactus Cafe might be closing and surprised that it is not a revenue producing program. Let's look at ways to keep it open as a service to both the UT community and the greater Austin community AND be a positive in the budget. It is an important part of UT.
    • Quote 2
      susie fowler said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 7:47 a.m.
      Save the Cactus! Preserve the music heritage of Austin and the gathering place for people of ALL AGES to hear great music in the best acoustic setting in Austin, maybe anywhere. I attend regularly with my 28 year old son and my 80 year old mother. I've taken my 4 and 6 year old nieces and nephew as well. When guest come to town, we always make it to the Cactus. Surely the modest $125 K could be saved elsewhere, not in the best community outreach programs that UT has -- informal classes and great music. Please Please Please. It's priceless!
    • Quote 2
      daniel kagay said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 6:18 a.m.
      Save the Cactus!I don't understand why you don't think serving the community of Austin at large is not a priority of the University of Texas. Maybe the city services that support UT and its students should also be cut! Please, do reconsider these ill advised cuts to both the Cactus and Informal Classes.
    • Quote 2
      Jela Webb said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 3:28 a.m.
      I am a UK resident and on Sunday, the day I booked a flight to Austin, so that I could attend the Townes Van Zandt Birthday salute at the Cactus Café scheduled for March, I was extremely saddened to learn that a decision has been made to close the Café as the annual cost, some $120,000 is considered unsustainable by the University of Texas. I have a great deal of affection for the Cactus Café as a live music venue and in almost forty years of attending live music shows, I have not come across a venue that betters the Cactus Café. For many years, living so far away I could only dream about the day when I might finally get a chance to visit it and much to my delight managed to do so seven years ago since which time, I and my husband have been regular visitors to the venue. Over the years we have had the pleasure of traveling to see many favourite artists there including Eliza Gilkyson, Jimmy LaFave, Slaid Cleaves, Tom Russell, Gurf Morlix, Sam Baker and more recently BettySoo. One of my favourite memories, and there are many, is from 2008 when we attended the CD release party for Joe Ely and Joel Guzman's Live Cactus -- who could forget the end of that show when they came off the stage, still singing and playing to lead the crowd through the building in a conga formation? Another Texan whose career we have followed very closely is Butch Hancock and in 1990 bought all 14 of the cassettes he recorded at the Cactus Café -- No Two Alike. To this day they continue to be amongst our most prized possessions. I could go on and share so many more good memories of the Cactus and will always be grateful for not only the music but the fact that it has been a catalyst in forming many valued friendships with Austin residents. Without the Cactus, our lives would be significantly poorer in so many ways. As a former banker, turned Academic, I understand that finances play a part, but I want to make a plea on behalf of all music lovers across the world -- please do not close this iconic venue! Its reputation far exceeds its Austin environs; it is known across the world as the place to listen to live music and I ask that you please reconsider your decision to close the Cactus Café. I am sure that somehow there must be an alternative to closure; I do not underestimate what a reversal of the decision to close it might take but on behalf of music lovers everywhere please, please keep the Cactus Café open for business.
    • Quote 2
      Andrew Hardin said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 2:08 a.m.
      Please do not close the Cactus Cafe. It is probably the most important music venue in Texas, and one of the most well known in the world. It was the "home" of Townes Van Zandt, who has a tribute concert in his honor every year in Milan, Italy. I have seen folks at the Cactus from Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, UK... and that's just people I know. Frankly, the decision to close the Cactus baffles me.
    • Quote 2
      Peg Runnels said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 1:43 a.m.
      The Cactus Cafe is part of what makes Austin so special. My husband and I have seen so many up and coming musicians perform there, and it is a treasure. The budget seems low to me. Surely there is a way to make it profitable.
    • Quote 2
      Eric Swanson said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 1:31 a.m.
      President Powers, Give us one year to make the Cactus profitable again! I respect the right of management to make budget decisions, but closing the Cactus Cafe is a misguided decision that will not change the budget much. As a leader, you understand that different people have different skill sets, and unfortunately the Union management do not have the proper skill set to handle a cultural institution like the Cactus Cafe. I ask that you treat the Cactus like the other music and art instituitons at UT: Texas Performing Arts Center, Blanton Museum, and Ransom Center. I know you understand the importance of these, as you have done a great job handling them. Treat the Cactus the same way the Blanton Museum or Ransom Center is treated: as a valuable cultural asset to the community. Get the Cactus away from the Texas Union, and under the support of the Texas Performing Arts. A group that loves presenting music would be a much better fit for the Cactus. Consider doing a membership pledge drive ala public radio. Lots of donors in Austin support the arts! Slightly raise informal class pricing on the 10,000 informal students to solve the budget issue. Make the Cactus profitable by updating the Cactus website with more detailed calendars and band info, start an email list, and sell tickets online. The Union hasn't tried anything, they just want to pull the plug. There's no reason the Cactus can't be saved...
    • Quote 2
      Mark Coffey said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 1:23 a.m.
      President Powers: This university and this city have a bilateral, reciprocal relationship. The Cactus means more to this city than 10 national champsionships. This is about the heart and soul of a city that prides itself on music - and UT should pride itself on hosting the many, many unforgettable nights the Cactus has borne witness to. This is a travesty, but it's not too late - you can find a way to close a $120,000 spending gap. Save the Cactus!
    • Quote 2
      Victoria said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:49 a.m.
      Dear President Powers, The University of Texas *at Austin* is a large part of the Austin community and has a significant impact on the city and surrounding areas in a variety of ways. The recent decision to close the Cactus Cafe and to discontinue the Informal Classes does great harm to UT's reputation and sends a message that UT does not consider itself to be a member of the community in which it resides. The value of the Cactus Cafe and Informal Classes program cannot easily be measured in $$$ -- their value is more clearly seen in the good will and positive regard toward The University generated within (and beyond) the greater Austin community by the services they provide. The small financial 'savings' on a $$$-focused bottom line will not offset the growing ill will that has been created by this decision. Please remind the Board of Regents, et. al., that 'value' is both intrinsic *and* extrinsic, and that $$$ is only a fraction of that equation. The University of Texas at *Austin* is part of the larger Austin community. Withdrawing from the larger community by closing the Cactus and discontinuing Informal Classes runs counter to UT's mission of serving the students. Students are part of the Austin community, and these programs connect UT and its students with that community in ways that cannot be measured in dollars and cents. As UT's website proclaims on every page 'What starts here changes the world'. The University of Texas at Austin is not a community unto itself. It is a community in relation with the Austin-area community. The world is made of communities in relation with one another. It is communities, the individuals within, and the relationships between, that are the active principle in creating and changing the world. The students and Austin are both best served by maintaining the community connections generated and maintained by the Cactus Cafe and Informal Classes. Please reconsider this decision and retain these community connections. Thank you for your time.
    • Quote 2
      Andrew Massimino said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:48 a.m.
      Dear President Powers, I would like to express my support for the Cactus Cafe as you address new budget concerns. The Cactus is the University's best connection to the Austin music scene, and therefore it is also the best advertisement of the University to so many artists and fans of Austin music worldwide. It's history and reputation are vital to the ongoing realtionship between town and school. As a student I saw dozens of shows there, studied there, and made many new friends there. And everytime I come back I feel an instant reconnection to campus and what my time at UT has meant to me. A long time ago in a botany class, I remember learning all about cacti--they can survive in all kinds of difficult environments! With all the creative energy running around Austin surely we can find someone with enough bright ideas and force of will to save the Cactus--"the crown jewel in Austin's folk music scene."
    • Quote 2
      Larry Baldauf said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:31 a.m.
      I am extremely disappointed in the decision to close the Cactus Cafe. As a former UT student and long-time Austin resident, I feel that the Cactus should be viewed as a cultural and educational facility rather than a solely a for-profit venue. But if profit is the key I think more creative ideas should be explored before closing such a significant cultural institution. Some examples include: 1) forming a non-profit, accepting donations, and offering annual subscriptions, 2) leasing the space out to some other party that would run it as the Cactus, 3) using the space in some other profitable way such as a restaurant or coffee shop during the day, while leaving it the Cactus at night, 4) somehow tying it in with Austin City Limits as a satellite venue. I'm sure there are many other ideas, but I think that all options should be considered before simply shutting it down.
    • Quote 2
      Art said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:20 a.m.
      Dear President Powers, As a Texas alum ('09) and a musician who has played the Cactus several times, I am deeply shocked and saddened that the university plans to close this historic landmark. It is a one-of-a-kind institution revered for its authenticity, casual atmosphere, and even its Texan-ness. The architecture and design alone is well worth preserving as it captures a time and Texas aesthetic that no textbook or lecture could present. It is systemic of a society at large: arts programs and institutions like the Cactus are always the first to go when budget cuts are required. For once, stand up for history. Stand up for something beautiful. It troubles me that the university makes great lengths to present itself as a world-class institution, yet time and time again it's the bottom line that counts, to the detriment of not just the student body but the greater community as a whole. A reconsideration is needed: surely there are better paths to take than this extreme measure that has been put forth. Future generations will judge us on the university we hand to them, and frankly, I do not want to be associated with an institution that carelessly discards a vital component of its rich and storied past like yesterday's trash. If you close the Cactus Cafe, you rip out a small but important piece of the university's soul. Do not let dollar signs trump the preservation of this shining jewel, as it stands proudly for UT, Austin, and Texas at large.
    • Quote 2
      Jeff Webster said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:08 a.m.
      The Cactus Cafe is a cultural institution worthy of support from the university. It enhances the intellectual and artistic community of the university in profound ways. One frequent performer at the Cactus, Guy Clark, once wrote, "I have seen the David/Seen the Mona Lisa, too/I have heard Doc Watson play/Columbus Stockade Blues." For me, this captures the essence of artistic achievement found regularly at the Cactus. Many a night I've been so moved by performances, sure that they equal the artistic merit of famous high art. To close the venue without reaching out to potential doners and without vetting other possibilities, seems cavalier. Please reconsider this decision and properly value the cultural investment of 31 years of excellence.
    • Quote 2
      Robert Adams said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:02 a.m.
      The proposed Cactus Cafe closing is sparking a national movement to prevent it. I watched Facebook groups add thousands of friends today devoted to saving the famed cafe in mere hours. How is it there is unlimited money to promote sports and UT can't afford $50,000 a year for a music venue that has helped so many famous artists get started? This is a bad decision from a public relations standpoint. I have been a UT donor and I'm withholding any further contributions.
    • Quote 2
      Travis Horne said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 11:57 p.m.
      Here's a way to fight this: The Board of Regents have to approve any budgetary closings like they're proposing, so we still have an additional avenue of appeal: FAX every member of the board of regents. If you have a home fax machine and Time Warner Cable's digital phone that has unlimited calling within Texas (like I do), this should be a very cheap option for us. If they want to close down the Cactus, they're going to have a harder time ignoring paper faxes than easily deletable e-mail comments! http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=473112870256&ref=mf
    • Quote 2
      Melissa said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 11:43 p.m.
      There is never any shortage of money for sports programs, and UT manages to pay absolutely obscene salaries to its coaches. As a native Austinite since 1960, I am incensed that UT comes up with this plan to close the Cactus, just so you can save expenses that amount to a drop in the bucket compared to what is spent on sports. By taking this stand, the University is sending a disturbing message: we value aggression and competition over pursuits that actually touch the human soul. Sickening.
    • Quote 2
      J Puryear said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 11:42 p.m.
      May I humbly suggest that UT, the Austin City Council, and other community organizations in Austin explore options together to potentially keep the Cactus Cafe open? UT has set a close date of August 2010. That is 6 months away. Can it honestly be said that UT has exhausted every option available? If not, I implore UT management to at least consider alternatives to closing this great venue. There is still time to find a solution, and based on the posts already listed, there is a huge groundswell of support.
    • Quote 2
      Larry Looney said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 11:26 p.m.
      I am appalled that the Union board would even consider closing the Cactus Cafe. While it might serve the public more than the student body, according to some studies, the University operates other institutions about which the same could be said -- the Blanton Museum comes to mind. To think that the University looks at the issue strictly from a financial point of view puts a very negative face on the importance of UT staying connected with the Austin cultural community. The Cactus is renowned around the world as a high-quality venue, fiendly to both performers and audiences. Its reputation is surely a plus to UT's overall image. I urge you to reconsider the decision to close this Austin music icon. If it disappears, it will be an irreperable blow to the arts community in this city.
    • Quote 2
      Eric said on Feb. 2, 2010 at 12:09 a.m.
      Wow...you don't know Austinites very well do you, President?
    • Quote 2
      Mark Hall said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 11:04 p.m.
      President Powers - I would kindly ask you to reconsider the elimination of the Informal Classes program at UT. Many of us in the local community have benefited immensely from these classes. I, for one, learned a foreign language that helped me in my profession. It is difficult to believe that there are not other departments at University of Texas that might reduce their costs so that a valuable community resource could be spared.
    • Quote 2
      Louie P. Pete Nalda said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 11:03 p.m.
      Closing Cactus will certainly be a blow to the music Scene here in Austin.
    • Quote 2
      Carol B said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 11:02 p.m.
      The Cactus Cafe is a wonderful place with a rich history of excellent, iconic music. I am sure that the university and the music and business communities can design a business model that will make it self-supporting. Please find a way to keep it. It is one of those rare venues that have a true "only-in-Austin" feel. Thank you.
    • Quote 2
      David Schaefers said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 10:16 p.m.
      The Cactus Cafe and the Informal Classes were both formative experiences while I was a student at UT. I would gladly make a donation so that other students would have the same opportunity. Just tell me where I can send a check.
    • Quote 2
      Trish Morrison said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 10:15 p.m.
      Please don't close the Cactus. There are way too many good memories there and it is an Austin landmark. I worked at the Student Union in the Acct office on the 4th floor in the early 90's. Many of the musicians would visit and I still remember Griff, what a good guy. I am a UT Alum and UT nurse, currently returning to school, and I would like to one day return to teach at UT. Taking away the cactus would be peeling away the musical history that has been established there for a long time. It has been a venue for Austin music in a very personal setting for a long time. Surely there are other avenues that could be explored for revenue savings. What about athletics? Come on Mack throw us a bone here.
    • Quote 2
      Sarah said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 10:13 p.m.
      I will gladly start coming to the Cactus on a regular basis to help the door stay open. I will be glad to spend my money there. I didn't know there was a problem or I would have shown up sooner. All you have to do is ask. Please don't close the doors so quickly. Give us all a chance to help out. We can all party more and enjoy life more. No problem. Just give us a chance.
    • Quote 2
      Joanne Holladay said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 9:24 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, As a thirty-year resident of Austin and a retired UT staff member, I am saddened at the possibility of UT without the Cactus Cafe. Since I discovered the Cactus, it has become part of my personal history in Austin and, more than any other place, responsible for the most wonderful musical memories of my life. The Cactus has served as UT's and Austin's musical valentine to the world. The thought that it might be replaced by a soul-less franchise or any 21st century student amenity makes my blood run cold. The Cactus has been living the slogan, "What happens here changes the world" for many years. Please support this musical and cultural landmark for future generations of singers, songwriters and those who love them. Thank you for your consideration.
    • Quote 2
      Bill James said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 9:01 p.m.
      President Powers, As a long-time Austinite and current UT student, I beg of you to find a way to keep the Cactus Cafe open. Its historic place in the world of performing musicians is unparalleled. Its contributions to the Austin and University communities far exceed its operating costs. Please save this jewel, for all us who treasure it today and all those who will discover its magic, its joy, and its brilliance in years to come.
    • Quote 2
      A. Armstrong said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 7:53 p.m.
      The recent news regarding the closure of The Cactus Café and termination of UT Informal Classes is shocking to say the least. The reasons do not sound legitimate, but more importantly the lack of transparency regarding this decision and the lack of research that went into making that decision is of great concern. Officials state that these programs weren’t “making money,” but to my knowledge never reported that fact to the UT or wider Austin community until they already made the decision. If there had been some coverage of this fact, the greater-Austin University community (those non-UT affiliated people who apparently are of no significance to the UT administration) could have rallied to help come up with a solution. Rather, it seems like this WAS the decision that the administration desired and seemed to create conditions to ensure this result. What other ideas were proposed, researched and discussed before these extreme recommendations were decided upon? The fact that these programs “don’t serve students” is both ridiculous and short-sighted. The UT community is made up of more than students; faculty, staff, alumni, and retirees are part of this community and often take advantage of these programs; Informal Classes in particular. When I was a student, I never saw UT as an institution only for “us,” but for the greater community and for the greater good. Informal classes were a unique way for students and the Austin community to co-mingle with enormous social and economic benefits and “traditional” students got to see that Austin didn’t end at the boundary of the forty acres. And while many may say, “you only have yourselves to blame, if you had taken Informal Classes and patronized the Cactus before and not only at the final hour, they would have “made money” and it wouldn’t have closed.” I have taken many classes and heard live music at the Cactus, but the administration obviously wasn’t vested enough in their own programs and did little to ensure that they drew crowds and participants and that these institutions remained vital and relevant not only to those loyal supporters, but to those new to the UT community and Austin. While The Cactus is a unique historical Texas music venue, we are lucky to have many music venues in this city. But because of its importance to UT history, Austin history, Texas history, and music history, its closure seems to signify a shift in priorities that seems difficult to comprehend and impossible to accept. And because of that deep tradition, it’s possible that famous musicians, Austin personalities, and fans will rally and the administration will reverse its decision, but I am worried that Informal Classes will not have the same level of popular celebrated support it deserves to save it. I use Informal Classes and so do many people I know. The unique and affordable (maybe too affordable??) classes educated me about myself and my community. It linked me with resources in the community I didn’t know existed since the classes are often taught by business in the community and not just independent instructors. Without informal classes I don’t know how I would have found classes like Bhanghra Bollywood workout. I urge the University to consider other options that would allow these programs to remain, while also making allowances for the required budget cuts. I understand at an institution of higher learning, academics come first, but I don’t see that the Cactus Café and Informal Classes truly jeopardizes the academic program at the University of Texas at Austin.
    • Quote 2
      R. di Luce said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 7:09 p.m.
      I want to join the many other supporters of the Cactus Cafe and say how much I too have enjoyed hearing music at this popular venue. Please exhaust all other avenues before further consideration of closing the Cafe. It just seems like that would be a huge mistake.
    • Quote 2
      Deb Yager said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 6:59 p.m.
      I am in shock & devastated to hear that such an Austin institution will be closing!! I cannot tell you what the Cactus means to me. Not only as THE best listening room in Austin but one of THE quintessential listening rooms in the country! I have had the honor to have performed on that stage and I have sat in AWE watching singer songwriters on that stage and there is something magical about The Cactus Cafe. It will be a very sad day indeed if you close the Cactus.
    • Quote 2
      Jane Bowers said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 6:10 p.m.
      I did my graduate work at U.T. because there was more & better music in Austin than there was, or ever will be, in western Mass. Being able to see people like Guy Clark & Townes Van Zandt at the Cactus compensated for all that was & remains wrong w/U.T.
    • Quote 2
      Chrissy Flatt said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 5:34 p.m.
      Odd how UT has a budget to pay it's football coach MILLIONS of dollars per year but finds the Cactus Cafe to be a drain on funds... very strange. UT officials note that Brown's (the football coach) salary is paid with money raised by the athletic department, not state tax funds. Hmmm, I wonder what THEIR fund raising strategies are? Just curious what could be done to keep a great Austin musical venue alive - a venue that brings in artists who feed our minds and spirits... ?
    • Quote 2
      Mary Agnew said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 5:06 p.m.
      I currently work at the Cactus Cafe and am angered and confused by the decision to close it's doors. There has to be a way to salvage it. I believe it can make money. All the history in that room cannot be brushed aside. I cannot make the meeting because or prior commitments, but I wanted to show my support for the Cactus Cafe.
    • Quote 2
      Meghan Ackley said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 5:01 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, With UT being one of the top 5 richest schools in America, closing the Cactus cafe seems a bit over the top. Please reconsider this decision as music is a signature of Austin, and the Cactus helped some extremely notable people get their start. What with salary freezes this year on non-tenured staff members, taking the Cactus away from Austin is yet another slap in the face, adding insult to injury in an economy that is struggling but at a university that clearly is not.
    • Quote 2
      Cheney Crow, PhD said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 4:43 p.m.
      Where is the streaming video link??
    • Quote 2
      Cheney Crow, PhD said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 4:38 p.m.
      It is alarming to see that the Cactus Cafe, an Austin Music Institution, could be closed, with its history and unique atmosphere. Austin as "live music capital of the world" relies on places where long-respected artists have played. Members of the music community enjoy it, and the public thrives on the intimacy of the venue. The Cactus is a uniquely Austin experience. We have lost the Armadillo lounge... we must preserve the Cactus, not only for this reason but because it is actually a community outreach program, as are Informal Classes. These are low-budget items and comprise a large feature of community outreach. Many of the courses are regularly full -- and greatly useful -- to people who would not otherwise have access to inexpensive and high quality teaching in computer software programs, languages and other culturally valuable disciplines. We cannot afford to reduce our support for ongoing community education any more than we can reduce our commitment to preserving an historic venue for Austin music.
    • Quote 2
      Steve Hopkins said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 4:20 p.m.
      Please do not allow the revered Cactus Cafe to suffer the same fate as way too many icons of the Austin music scene. The Cactus holds a treasured place in Austin music history along with the Armadillo, Soap Creek, Liberty Lunch, Chicago House and others too numerous to list here. The eclectic mix of musical genres the Cactus serves up to an appreciative audience is not available anywhere else and would be sorely missed. The void its absence would create would be tragic. If the term "live music capitol of the world" means anything more than just a letterhead for the chamber of commerce, please keep the Cactus open... forever.
    • Quote 2
      Bonny Holmes said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 4:05 p.m.
      Please make the right choice for Austin, and find a way to trim the budget (not a very large amount in the big picture, $125K, seems to me) without breaking so many hearts. I suspect there are large amounts of waste in the University System that could be evaluated, and stuff like that. Thank you for considering alternative ideas.
    • Quote 2
      Kerry Polk said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 3:35 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, I am writing to address the possibility of closing the Cactus Cafe. Please understand that this would be a huge tragedy and a blow to the Austin music scene. I hope you'll entertain the notion that the Cactus is a national treasure and all lengths should be gone to to keep it open. There is no other university venue like the Cactus with the history of booking great singer-songwriters and musicians from all over the world who have literally changed the course of history with their music. We need to protect the legacy of such a place and find a way to keep it going. I recommend that you meet with the music leaders of Austin who are offering their time to you to help make the Cactus staying open a viable enterprise. Thank you for your time! Kerry Polk
    • Quote 2
      Jamie said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 3:25 p.m.
      Please don't close the Cactus Cafe! It's one of Austin's favorites and we love it so!
    • Quote 2
      L Graber said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 3:20 p.m.
      I am surprised to learn that the Cactus Cafe is not a revenue producing program. Let's look at ways to keep it open as a service to both students and the community AND be a positive in the budget. It is an important part of all that makes UT a great institution.
    • Quote 2
      Karen White said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 3:07 p.m.
      It would be awful for the Cactus Cafe to shut its doors. It is Austin's most wonderful music venue. Nothing else even comes close. I hope there might be some workable solution.
    • Quote 2
      J W Harris said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 2:28 p.m.
      President Powers, The decision to close the Cactus Cafe is a disappointment to me, an alumnus of our university and Austin resident. The decision is a loss for the cultural arts and music community of the university and the city, and it is shaping up to be a public relations disaster for your office and the Union governing board. A hasty decision to cease operations of one of the nation's most iconic and revered live music institutions should be reconsidered. Surely, if the university gave careful consideration to the budget, in full, your organization could either a) clearly demonstrate that there is no other choice than closure or b) show that by building a public/private foundation or endowment for the Cactus that it could weather difficult economic downturns and return to profitability (or at least break even) in future years. As it stands now, the decision appears to be a hasty reaction to a press for 5 percent budget cuts and shows a real lack of priorities for the University and its student union.
    • Quote 2
      Elizabeth Pittman said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 2:20 p.m.
      The decision to close the Cactus Cafe is certainly a sad disappointment for me. Not only is the Cactus known throughout the USA as a top-class intimate venue for listening, it has immeasurable historic value as the place where many important musicians got their early launch. One has only to look through the Cactus posters from past decades to understand the depth and breadth of its impact. A closed Cactus will leave a black hole in Austin and a large black spot on Austin's reputation as The Live Music Capitol of the World. Good Grief! Please find another way to save $100,000 a year!
    • Quote 2
      Jeff Harlan said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 2:09 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, It came as terrible and shocking news when I became aware of the motion to cease operations at Cactus Cafe. This venue is a legendary, iconic, and historically significant space for supporting the arts in Austin, TX with a future that should be allowed to evolve. There are numerous arts groups, musicians, promoters and non-profit organizations in the area that are fully capable of supporting the effort to keep this venue alive and well. I hope that, after realizing how quickly this topic has generated interest in social media, news, and the community of Austin residents and UT Alumni, we are able to work toward coming to an agreement that all sides of this issue are comfortable with. Much has already been said on this in response to your notice -- and all of the responses put forward very valid points. $100,000 in lost revenue simply is not enough to warrant closing down this venue. In other words, the venue presents that much worth in COST. It shouldn't be necessary to be "profitable". However, measures can be taken in order to improve its profitability and hence show it's monetary value to the University of Texas. It's just sad to think that an establishment with so much revenue being generated in other areas is now considering shutting down The Cactus Cafe. Sincerely, Jeff Harlan
    • Quote 2
      Larry Evans said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 1:14 p.m.
      So much of what I learned in college had little to do with the degree ('83) I earned. I learned about people from all over the world in the daily kaffeeklatsch that was the Cactus -- I regularly solved the world's problems with people from Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala, Israel, Iran, Indonesia, China, and countless other countries. Even the young Flemish woman who attended the coffee bar (the word "barista" had yet to be coined during '79- '83) spoke 5 languages. I can unequivocally state that what I learned about different human cultures at the Cactus ranks with anything I ever learned in a classroom or lecture hall. And this was before the Cactus earned its laurels as a live music venue!
    • Quote 2
      John Mitchell said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 12:04 p.m.
      This is not just the closing of a cafe. Bar none, the Cactus Cafe is the most intimate, comfortable and pleasant live music venue in Austin that I have experienced since moving here to attend grad school in 1988. No other Austin establishment enters the same class of venue as the Cactus has reigned these many years; not for the sound system, seating the ambiance, the service, the staff (Griff, Chris & the other bartenders,) nor for the musicians whom perform standing and siting before those red velvet drapes. Should doors close and UT abandon it's jewel and her coveted status, as leader of the pack for live music in Austin, I surely shall shed tears. Please find a way to keep this treasure, our treasure alive. thank you, John Mitchell Th Bookcase Store, mitchell@bookcasestore.com
    • Quote 2
      Dave Miller said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 11:36 a.m.
      The UT/Union announcements merge the Cactus Cafe and Informal Classes deficits to project a total deficit of a bit more than $100,000. This is unusual; what are the two numbers? What is the Cactus deficit? Is someone with more knowledge than I have willing to look at the UT/Union budget numbers for the Cactus to find out the real story here? mail@davidbmiller.com
    • Quote 2
      Richard said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 11:21 a.m.
      I'm a native Austinite and a UT alumnus. I have a lot of pride in my University. But it shames me to hear that UT is considering shutting the doors of the Cactus Cafe and the Informal Classes. Both of these services provide a chance for the community of Austin to make personal connections with the University through entertainment and education. They are positive forces for Austin that provide music, laughter, the chance to learn. I have personally been blessed with the opportunity to enjoy the amazing live performances at the Cactus Cafe and I've taken the initiative to continue my informal education by taking Chinese classes through the UT Informal Classes. Services like these are what keep me returning to UT and help strengthen my pride in the University. Make no doubt that in the future, when I am considering where to make donations I will be inspired to give elsewhere if UT decides to eliminate these services. I have to support those institutions that share my values and in this case, I feel UT is making a tragic mistake. Respectfully, Richard Mann
    • Quote 2
      Lisa Fancher said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 11:11 a.m.
      Dear President Powers: I am very upset by the decision to close the Cactus and cease Informal Classes. Both have figured strongly in my Austin experience. I have seen some incredible shows at the Cactus and enjoyed the wonderful learning experiences available through the Informal Classes. The Cactus is not just a local and Texas icon; it is one of a handful of premier acoustic music venues in the United States. Griff is a treasure as well. Please reconsider cutting these valuable cultural resources. It would be better to add small surcharges than to lose them.
    • Quote 2
      Nancy Fly said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 10:41 a.m.
      Other arts venues in college towns that serve the folk music market have funding organizations that support them. For example, the Ark in Ann Arbor and the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, have non-profits that help support the continuance of worthy and artistic programming. I think we should discuss with President Powers the establishment of such a support organization, perhaps under the umbrella of UT, that could raise enough money to cushion shortfalls during a bad economy such as 2009 has been, and keep the Cactus Cafe open. Ticket sales to music events have been down across the board in 2009, but that doesn’t mean that profitability will not return when the economy recovers. "Friends of the Cactus" could easily raise enough money to offset deficits the Cafe may experience.
    • Quote 2
      Travis Horne said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 10:32 a.m.
      When I was a student of Japanese at UT, I utilized the informal classes in Japanese to help me practice and hone my skills in the language. It was INVALUABLE practice, and guess what- ACADEMICALLY VALUABLE TOO. I'll be coming to this meeting to make my voice as alumni heard too. They can't close down informal classes; they can't close the Cactus. This is intolerable from a university of the caliber that UT strives to. There are other ways than to close down these valuable aspects of campus life.
    • Quote 2
      Melissa Knight said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 10:03 a.m.
      Dear President Powers, I am a concerned employee of the University of Texas at Austin, as well as a concerned member of the Austin community. Should the University follow through with its decision to close the Cactus Cafe, we will be losing part of what makes Austin special. Currently there are 7000+ members of the "Save the Cactus Cafe" group on Facebook. This group was formed in the last day or two in response to the announcement. People are clearly distressed by this news and many are UT Alumni. We recognize what we have to lose - it's immeasurable and cannot be quantified in dollars and cents. I urge you to reassess and find a way to save one of our university and city jewels.
    • Quote 2
      Harrison Christian said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 9:52 a.m.
      The proposed withdrawal of funding for The Cactus Cafe is inept. A black and white and bottom line myopic rendering of a culturally castrated beaurocracy. WAKE UP. Listen to 'we the people' and work with us. We can be creative in alleviating the $120K+ expense while preserving the cultural integrity of what has been a (mostly) honorable institution of higher learning. Come on folks. Respectfully, Harrison Christian
    • Quote 2
      Graham Warwick said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 9:51 a.m.
      Austin has been long known as the "Music Capital of Texas". If this is true, and I (and a few 100,000 of my musical fans, friends and colleges) believe this to be true, then closing the Cactus Cafe would be a horrible slap in the face to that very music industry. To close the Cactus Cafe is to ignore the vibrant and profitable business that it helps keep vibrant and profitable. Last I checked, UT was an institute of higher learning. Surely there is someone there smart enough to figure out how to keep this place open!!
    • Quote 2
      Tom Millwee said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 9:33 a.m.
      I read with disbelief the proposed closing of the Cactus Cafe. It is clearly the most significant "listening" venue in our state. For a city, known as the "The Live Music Capital of the World", to loose this venue would be an absolute shame. I urge UT administrators to reconsider this move. The loss of the Cactus would undermine our collective musical soul. For the past 28 years we have been patrons of the Cactus with my children, two of which are UT graduates, and closing this venue is simply a gross mistake. I've got to believe there are other items that can be reduced/eliminated before resorting to this action. Perhaps, some of the perks extended to top university officials could be targeted!
    • Quote 2
      Carter Mayfield said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 9:26 a.m.
      I can't believe that they are considering getting rid of informal classes. It couldn't cost that much to administer and is a good way for small businesses in the Austin area to develop a following for their services. I learned to improve my guitar chops through informal classes and also learned to box. I think it would be a tremendous loss both to the student body and to the Austin community to discontinue that program. Perhaps there are creative ways to employ volunteer labor and move registration online to reduce the run-rate costs of administering informal classes? Just a thought.
    • Quote 2
      Joanna said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 9:22 a.m.
      I urge you to not cut the Informal classes or close the Cactus Cafe. These are two institutions the community of Austin cannot afford to lose. The Informal Classes are a way for people to experience new and exciting ways to expand their repertoires. The Cactus Cafe has seen many great artists come through it's doors. What other college campus can say that? Please reconsider these budget cut-backs. These are two the University can't afford to lose!!
    • Quote 2
      Cash Edwards said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 9:12 a.m.
      Just amazing that you would think to close the Cactus. To help your budget by closing this center of American Cultural Music is astounding. Not only is it important to support American Music it also gives many students help finanacially.
    • Quote 2
      John Breed said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 8:23 a.m.
      Since ACC offers continuing ed which is similar to the Informal Classes, why not partner with them to continue offering the classes? Perhaps you could share the budget load, locations for the classes and even realize a profit for both entities.
    • Quote 2
      Richard Langston said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 1:50 a.m.
      Shutting down the Cactus Cafe is a really bad decision. I enjoyed breakfast there every morning and a beer after school every afternoon. I have seen so many excellent concerts there that I am not even to count them. The Union/West Mall will not be the same. I graduated from UT, as did my wife and my daughter is currently enrolled, majoring in Chemical Engineering. My son will most likely attend Medical school there. To deprive these young people with "Orange Blood" of the fun of the Cactus is totally wrong!
    • Quote 2
      TAD COLE said on Feb. 1, 2010 at 12:14 a.m.
      Dr. Powers: The Cactus is as venerable an institution at the university as any. Considerable amounts of musical history have happened there, not to mention the magic of shows like Jimmy LaFave's last week that had the whole room singing "I Shall Be Released." The Board is ill-advised to even suggest that such an incredibly unique venue be destroyed. Where does it end with this town? I moved here from DC ten years ago to escape the inanity of urbanization, to be able to revel in an environment that encouraged and empowered live music, and yet I continue to discover that history is more readily deleted by the myopic, and that a cherished way of life is easily rendered a footnote by interests too shallow to hold a candle to their forebears. Please --- there must be a way. I suggest that the Board not rest until it distills a solution, something other than closing yet another door never to be re-opened. The staff at the Cactus is a hallowed part of that, as well. How can I help, sir? Thank you, Tad Cole Austin
    • Quote 2
      Claire England said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 11:27 p.m.
      Please, please, please don't close Cactus Cafe or end Informal Classes. The Austin music community is strong -- I'm sure a good solution can be reached to keep the historic Cactus going strong for many years to come. It adds so much to the cultural fabric of our great University. Don't take that away from future generations of students and from the larger Austin community. ~Austin native, Texas Ex, Longhorn Foundation member
    • Quote 2
      Larry West said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 10:07 p.m.
      I cannot come to the meeting at 4:00 Tues. I do want to express that I am VERY much against the closing of the Cactus Cafe. I was at a get together of 70 people last night where the announcement was relayed to the attendees. It was met with a resounding "boo". UT has done some bone-headed things over the years but this takes the cake. Please reconsider this. Surely there is some actual waste in the budget that could be cut. How about having some of those big shot PhDs actually teach a class or two?
    • Quote 2
      Gina Chavez said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 9:29 p.m.
      I am currently in El Salvador and unable to attend the meeting regarding the closure of the Cactus Cafe, but as a UT graduate and an Austin musician and avid attendee of live music, I am incredibly shocked to hear that UT would even consider closing Austin's most famed concert venues. Not only has the Cactus hosted countless Austin and Texas icons, but it it literally THE BEST listening room in town. I jump at the chance to see shows and to perform on the Cactus stage whenever possible because of its intimate environment and the amazing performers that Griff brings to UT. I can't help but think of the Armadillo World Headquarters, another famed Austin venue that closed long before I was able to enjoy it. I sincerely hope that mere budget cuts won't force UT to shut the doors of yet another Austin icon, one that allows our wonderful city to maintain its claim to "Live music capital of the world."
    • Quote 2
      Hugh Cullen Sparks, PhD said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 9:20 p.m.
      I am most distressed at the decision to close the Cactus Cafe as a cost-saving measure. Having worked at UT for 30 years, I know there are many other places where cuts can be made and urge the administration carefully to reconsider this plan.
    • Quote 2
      Celeste Padilla said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 8:43 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, I was saddened to learn of the plans to close the Cactus Cafe - a genuine Austin (and Texas) music landmark. The space that the Cactus occupies is minimal, as is the annual operating budget. While the Cactus Cafe may not directly serve a great number of UT students, it serves the Austin community well. I hope you will consider other cost-saving options and find a way to keep the Cactus Cafe going strong. Celeste Padilla former UT Austin graduate student and staff member
    • Quote 2
      Dan McAtee said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 8:30 p.m.
      You pay the coach $5M and have to close the Cactus??????
    • Quote 2
      Benjamin Rhame said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 7:21 p.m.
      Re: Closing of Cactus Cafe I'm writing to encourage the University to consider options for the Cactus Cafe outside of closing it. It is a musical venue that carries much meaning for the people of Austin, including myself. Thank you Benjamin Rhame
    • Quote 2
      Kate said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 7:07 p.m.
      I have heard rumors that the Cactus Cafe will be closing in August 2010. I hope this is not true. If so, it will be deeply missed by the musician community and music lovers.
    • Quote 2
      Rick Pearson said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 5:07 p.m.
      The Cactus is perhaps UT's best and most enduring connection to the wider community. It has been a center point of Austin's music culture for decades. UT's plan to shut it down for its unspecified part of a $122,000 cost demonstrates just how little UT cares about the community that supports it and, in many ways, tolerates it. For perspective, note that the combined cost of the Cactus and Informal Classes is 2% of the salary of the head football coach, half a percent of the $23 million the state wants UT to cut, or .0006% of UT Austin’s operating budget. Closing the Cactus is not just a disappointment, it is an insult to everyone in Austin who loves music.
    • Quote 2
      Ken Gaines said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 4:05 p.m.
      Even with budgetary constraints the closing of The Cactus Cafe on UT campus would be destroying a significant part of Texas history. It is known worldwide for it's contribution to quality music. I respectfully submit that it would damage the credibility of UT and the state of Texas to maintain institutions of significant social, artistic and historical importance. Ken Gaines Houston, TX
    • Quote 2
      John Hillerup said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 3:55 p.m.
      Closing the Cactus Cafe and eliminating the Informal Classes program must be reconsidered. These are two of the most valuable things the university brings to the students and citizens of Austin. Please find another place to cut these funds in areas that would not affect so many thousands of people each year.
    • Quote 2
      Michael Fitch said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 3:18 p.m.
      President Powers, I'm hoping the university will reconsider its decision to close the Cactus Cafe. As a Life Member of the Texas Exes living in Austin, I'm very proud of the rich tradition that UT has provided for the community. I'm hopefully that the university will find a way to continue funding for this unique and historic venue. As often as I'm approached by the university to donate money -- I'm surprised that there was no effort to raise funds to support the Cactus before a decision was made to close it. Perhaps a membership program similar to the Blanton (in which I participate) could be used to support continuation of the Cactus. I understand that in the current economic environment that the university leadership has a very difficult job in balancing the expenditures required to support a world class learning institution. I believe that a vibrant artistic community is vital to that effort and hope the university can find a way to continue that proud tradition. Thank you in advance for your attention. Hook 'Em. Regards, Michael R. Fitch B.A. 1993
    • Quote 2
      Ed Miller said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 2:59 p.m.
      The intended closure of the Cactus Cafe is nothing short of an obscenity... a complete insult to the musicians and audiences that make Austin such a uniquely wonderful place to live. It is regularly voted best listening venue in Austin and has showcased thousands of this and other countries' best musicians over the years. To close such a vitally important place to save $120,000 shows yet again that the UT regents have no connection to what makes Austin special.... $120,000 is about what Coach Brown makes in 2 weeks. Like many other REAL Austinites, I am appalled and sickened by such outrageous insensitivity and crass greed.
    • Quote 2
      Terry Tammadge said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 2:53 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, Please re-visit the decision about closing The Cactus and ending the Informal Classes program. Both are vital elements of Campus life as well as the broader Austin community. That is truly such a small part of the budget for such wide-ranging benefits. I have heard from countless friends, including many from Europe, who say one of their essential places to visit when in Austin is The Cactus Cafe. I appreciate your consideration. Much thanks, Terry Tammadge UT 1982
    • Quote 2
      Michael Scully said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 2:23 p.m.
      I have a UT Ph.D. I attend the Cactus Cafe at least once a month. I just gave the UT PAC $600. Closing the Cactus Cafe to save a PORTION of 122K per year is very shortsighted. It really can only be the act of people who know nothing about the Cactus. I've seen blues, old-time country, Scots music, Greek music, god knows what--all at the Cactus. It's an eclectic, quiet listening room and a valuable part of Austin. Have you been there? Get in inside the University contribution scheme like the PAC. Charge a quarter more per drink and a dollar more per ticket. Don't close it.
    • Quote 2
      Jordan weeks said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 2:21 p.m.
      How interesting that you cloak the closing of the Cactus Cafe (an institution as sacred to Austin as the Smithsonian in DC), with the euphemism "budget reallocations." Expect a city-wide protest, and being tagged in every future article about you as the man who tried to shut down the Cactus Cafe in the Live Music Capitol of the World.
    • Quote 2
      Kristin Miller White said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 2:16 p.m.
      Do not close the Cactus Cafe! I am not certain of how much you will be saving but if it is only $122k per year as I have read, you will be doing the musical community (students, artists, and listeners) and The University of Texas image a huge disservice! Think of the historical value of the Cactus Cafe and its role in shaping Texas music. Set up an annual fund raiser like public radio/television. Think again. Find a way. PS - Informal classes also provide supplemental income to your teaching community & community outreach.
    • Quote 2
      Pete Harris said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 2:11 p.m.
      I moved to Austin just a few months ago, drawn by its arts and music scene and overall sense that the city's governance and institutions were working to make the city one of the best places to live in the USA. Notwithstanding the budget issues faced by the university - which can only be viewed as transitory in the content of macro-economics - I feel the recent decisions for close the Cactus Cafe and Informal Classes to be ones of considerable bad judgment, displaying a lack of innovation and foresight of UT's place in Austin's business and culture fabric. I urge the board of the UT Union and the university to direct their brain power and work with the community at large to come up with a workable plan to ensure these facilities remain open, and begin to operate as a profit center. Judging by the many comments on Facebook and Twitter, it is clear that many in this community oppose such closures. I am certain that a considerable number would be willing to contribute constructively to plans that would ensure the future of the Cactus and the Informal Classes. Truly Pete Harris
    • Quote 2
      Melissa Knight said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 2:07 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, I am writing to say that I was disheartened to read the news today that the Cactus Cafe will be closing its doors. The Cactus is an Austin institution and to close it would be a crying shame. As the partner of a musician - I always hear from him & other musicians that it is the greatest pleasure & honor to play at the Cactus. It seems that budget cuts are happening everywhere, but is this measure rally necessary? I sincerely hope that the board rescinds this decision, In the name of the Cactus Melissa Knight
    • Quote 2
      Carol Horn said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 1:57 p.m.
      The Cactus Cafe is as important to the UT community as the stadium. As a UT alum, I spend many hours listening to great music there. It is a unique venue that deserve the small amount of funding. Closing it will do irreparable damage to UT's relationship with the Austin community. Please support the arts as much as athletics. It is shameful to do otherwise.
    • Quote 2
      tiffany neece said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 1:34 p.m.
      If you can fork it out for the sports department you can surely pay the fees associated with The Cactus Cafe. Why don't you relocate some sports money. I know you are banking on that financial situation. don't be so greedy. Cactus Cafe is renowned. You are making an unwise decision that will bring disappointment and anger to the people who believe in and enjoy The Cactus Cafe. Don't you have any idea what it means for the university to support the fine arts? I am disappointed in your decision.
    • Quote 2
      Nancy Coplin said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 1:19 p.m.
      The Cactus Cafe is an Austin icon and it would be a great disservice to the music community and music fans to close it. I would like to suggest that you pay for your program with sponsorship money like we do at the airport. We have almost 600 performances per year, and all musicians are paid by sponsors. I would be hsppy to meet with you to make suggestions. Nancy Coplin
    • Quote 2
      Erin Bertolini said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 1:17 p.m.
      I am writing to express my concern and desires to you regarding the news which was recently released announcing the closure of the Cactus Cafe and ending Informal Classes. The Cactus Cafe has been a part of this community since I attended UT many years ago. I have enjoyed many shows at the venue over the years it has been opened. I have also taken several courses through Informal Classes offered. I understand that budgeting is a big concern for everyone at this time of economic uncertainty and rapid growth of University. I also understand that the University may not be in a position to continue to support the venue and the classes if they cannot support themselves. Raise the ticket prices and the cost of the courses by the meager amount it would take to cover the shortfall and the venue and classes could continue. It seems like a very simple solution if the quote from the article on Austin360.com is accurate: "The cuts will save about $122,000 a year, Smith said. The programs had an operating cost of about $1.3 million, he said. UT officials said the Cactus Cafe and informal classes generally draw people who are not full-time students; about 10,000 people attended informal classes last year." If it is true that it is about the financial issue, it should be relatively easy to correct. Somehow, I suspect that it is actually about a different agenda than the quote above would lead one to believe. Taxpayers, current students, and alumni are not interested in losing these long standing benefits that are offered to the community which shares this city with UT. Please reconsider and devise a plan to save these valuable institutions.
    • Quote 2
      Jean Spivey said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 1:15 p.m.
      The Cactus Cafe is as "iconic" as Austin can get. This "listening" venue is known world-wide for its nurturing of many major recording artists' careers. Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin and Townes Van Zandt all honed their craft at the Cactus. The venue has been a prime marketing tool for Austin's claim to "Capital of the Live Music World." Closing the Cactus as well as the Informal Classes program seems like a short-sighted move to cut $122K. How much of that $122K can be attributed to the Cactus? Thanks for listening -- as so many of us have done at the Cactus.
    • Quote 2
      stuart adamson said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 12:51 p.m.
      The Cactus Cafe is an institution that not only serves the University, but also the community. It's lose would be an extremely sad day for The University, the city, the great state of Texas. It deserves a historical marker and protection.
    • Quote 2
      Dave Dart said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 12:41 p.m.
      Dear President Powers, I am writing you regarding the closing of the Cactus Cafe. The budgetary concerns, especially during this difficult time, can be overwhelming. However, the needs of our University and community that are served by the Cactus Cafe warrant a greater weight than to be considered as simply an entertainment venue. The Cactus Cafe ties the University into one of the core values of Austin - our rich and world-renowned history of music and culture. The unique facility allows for interactions between students, local citizens, and some of the most important musical performers from around the world. The opportunity for our young people to interact with such cultural transformers as have appeared on its stage over the past 25 years is an important part of the University experience. The value of these experiences is not quantifiable in a short-term financial model. Nonetheless, it is real and provides a singular function that allows the University to fulfill its mission, and do so in a manner that is unparalleled among sister institutions. As a Systems Analyst at the University for 11 of those years, I personally witnessed many of the personal experiences young people have made through the performances there. The importance of such experiences are a part of the core values that govern my nonprofit organization, Dart Music International. We promote the cultural advancement of young people through music by making it possible for rock/pop bands from around the world to come here. Music is a common language that brings people together and helps them to better understand other people and cultures. This activity provides our young people with concrete tools to make better decisions with their lives. Again, I urge you to explore all avenues for meeting the short-term and real-world financial needs of the Cactus Cafe while taking into account the long-term positive contributions to the educational and cultural needs for our entire community that the Cactus serves. Repectfully, Dave Dart
    • Quote 2
      Kris Gulleen said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 12:36 p.m.
      I'm shocked and disgusted that you are going to close the Cactus Cafe and eliminate informal classes --- as part of budget-cutting. I always thought that part of a university's "obligations" was to GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY. Things like this shouldn't be ONLY ABOUT MONEY.
    • Quote 2
      Eleanour Snow said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 12:24 p.m.
      Please reconsider closing the Cactus Club. This is a treasure not only for UT, but for the community as a whole. As a public university UT has an obligation to the community in which it resides, and the Cactus Club is unique in its relationship to Austin. As the live music capitol, Austin nurtures rising musicians and the Cactus Club is one place where that thrives. I think if you pulled together a small group of people, including those who run the CC, local musicians, and interested austinites, you could task them with coming up with a way to run the CC with more economic efficiency. Please give it a chance, before you simply close it.
    • Quote 2
      merel bregante said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 12:13 p.m.
      I am a 44 year professional. My chosen field - music. As well as being a successful musician (13 gold, 5 platinum albums, 2 gold singles, and 2 grammy nominations), I am an Austin studio owner, producer, and festival production manager. I say these things just to establish a modicum of credibility. The Cactus is certainly a rather unique icon. One which Austin - THE LIVE MUSIC CAPITAL OF THE WORLD - can ill afford to lose. I am not saying that this type of venue does not exist at other Universities across the nation...I know they do as I have performed in a number of them. Rather it is unique in that by virtue of being in Austin, it has seen a far larger number of highly visible performers over the years than many other venues of this type. I have toured Europe numerous times and have spoken to musicians that have expressed their dream of one day performing at The 'fabled' Cactus Cafe in Austin, Texas. Aside from being a wonderful venue to see, in a most intimate setting, amazing performances, it adds in such an important way to the overall cache that exists for all of us that do this thing called music as professionals both domestically and internationally. To lose The Cactus Cafe, would simply exemplify/accelerate the sadly obvious decline of all that was wonderful about the musical arts in Austin!!! OK, having said these things, I will briefly say that the management of the Cactus over the past years I have been an Austin resident (now 17) has been, at best, marginal. I have heard innumerable complaints regarding this and feel saddened in that the public face of The Cactus may well have been sullied by unnecessary attitude. So, I feel it incumbent to at least mention this. And so...enough. I humbly request that President Powers and other faculty and staff members that hold sway over this important decision reconsider. Heritage has always been vital to the Spirit of Texas. The Cactus IS an important part of our musical heritage. Please help allow 'The Live Music Capital of the World' to remain a viable center (artistically and economically) for all that we, the musicians/music professionals, have brought to Austin throughout the years! Sincerely, Merel Bregante The Cribworks Digital Audio Austin, Texas
    • Quote 2
      Jan Hill said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 11:57 a.m.
      Please find the way to save the Cactus Cafe. It is an amazing asset to our community. I hope that the city of Austin can join with you to preserve this resource.
    • Quote 2
      Duggan Flanakin said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 11:46 a.m.
      As one who covers the Austin music scene and is widely read, the very idea of closing the Cactus Cafe is LUDICROUS on its face. The Cactus is a viable part of the University of Texas' music program -- just as important as the graduate programs in music, many of whose graduates may even play this historic venue. Simply put, the Cactus is a world-renowned venue, just as unique and special as Austin City Limits. It is at the HEART of the city of Austin ... something very special that balances out the university's well-deserved reputation as a sports power. If budgets matter, are you looking at cutting out revenue-negative sports programs (including even women's basketball and track and field)? May as well shut down the Blanton Museum. What the University of Texas needs most is a true audit of its expenditures to see where things might be done more efficiently and with a higher return on investment. Closing the Cactus Cafe is like cutting the heart out of an overweight man as a way to reduce his weight. You had to kill the patient to save him. Absurd on its face -- but that is what the university would be doing by eliminating the Cactus Cafe. Duggan Flanakin (512) 554-4374
    • Quote 2
      Jenny Reynolds said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 11:24 a.m.
      Dear President Powers, As an alternative to phasing out The Cactus Cafe, would you consider challenging UT undergrad business majors and MBA candidates to write a business plan to restructure it? The goal could be not just to make it self-sustaining, but to make it a viable business that assists the university in offsetting other costs. Business students of today will likely face challenges such as this as leaders tomorrow. Sir, no other university can boast a venue like The Cactus, in having hosted Texan Townes Van Zandt, as well as Grammy Winners Shawn Colvin, Lyle Lovett and Steve Earle...just to name a few. I know you have many difficult decisions to make in this economy. Please keep restructuring The Cactus Cafe in mind. Thank you for providing a space for comments, and thank you also for your commitment to education, and the Austin community. Sincerely, Jenny Reynolds Singer-Songwriter www.jennyreynolds.com
    • Quote 2
      GMG said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 9:35 a.m.
      The first real music show I ever attended was as a freshman at the Cactus Cafe. It was a CC veteran, Bruce Robison. The reasons I went... the venue was a simple walk across campus, it was cheap, and I had heard how great the venue was. The impact of that first show on my life cannot be overstated. It changed who I was and gave me a greater appreciation of music that has stuck with me. AS A STUDENT, I attended numerous shows at the Cafe over the next few years. I know there are thousands of other people that have similar stories. We came to UT to mature, expand our horizons, and learn to appreciate the world around us. I can say without a doubt the Cactus Cafe played a significant role in my growth at UT. It would be a true disservice to the UT family and Austin community to close down such a musical institution.
    • Quote 2
      Susan Darrow said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 5:15 a.m.
      Save the Cactus Cafe!!! This small corner of the University campus has had a giant impact on the history of Austin music. The Cactus Cafe draws people from all over the world and provides immeasurable value to the University of Texas and to the city of Austin. It's legendary for its contribution to Texas' rich cultural heritage. By reconsidering this decision and keeping the Cactus Cafe open, the Texas Union board can send a message to students, alums and the general public that the University of Texas still values an institution that has done so much for so many years to contribute to Austin's reputation as the "Live Music Capital of the World".
    • Quote 2
      TIFFANY WALKER said on Jan. 31, 2010 at 1:59 a.m.
      Dear President Powers- It is with heavy heart that I write this message. I love UT. I bleed burnt orange. I graduated with an English degree in 1999, and loved UT so much, I stuck around for another three years to obtain a JD. (Unfortunately, I wasn't in any of your classes.) But it wasn't always this way. I grew up in the outskirts of Austin, and when I was a senior in high school, my only desire was to get out of Dodge. However, one night my senior year changed my life. Right before I graduated from high school, in an effort to convince me that UT really was a great institution, my dad took me to the Cactus Cafe to Townes Van Zandt play. Seeing Texas' greatest songwriter play in such a beautiful room changed my perspective on UT, and I decided to stick around for seven years to earn two degrees. The Cactus Cafe is an institution. It is irreplaceable. Since being a student in the mid-90s, I have attended shows at the Cactus at least once a week. I tell anyone who visits Austin to go the Cactus. If I ever talk about my alma mater, I mention the Cactus. It is the thing I love most about the university. It means so much to so many people's lives. If it closes, I will never be able to support UT again, and I will tell all my friends and colleagues the reason why: that some short-sighted, soulless, bureaucrats decided to shut down the greatest and most important live music venue in Austin. If the Cactus closes, I will never wear burnt orange again. Please reconsider this decision. If there is anything I can do to save the Cactus Café, please let me know. Sincerely, Tiffany E. Walker
    • Quote 2
      Patrick Sigel said on Jan. 30, 2010 at 11:58 p.m.
      President Powers: This is to respectfully inform you and the Board that, should the Cactus be closed, I will from that day forward be an ex-Texas-ex. I will energetically suggest that others consider withdrawing membership (and contributions) from the alumni association as well. Thank you, sir, and good day.
    • Quote 2
      Connie Gray said on Jan. 30, 2010 at 11:45 p.m.
      The Cactus Cafe has been a "where to go to see everybody who is somebody in Austin Music" venue ever since I can remember. Take away something else, if you do this, you are destroying a piece of Austin.
    • Quote 2
      Selina Kyle Hendryx said on Jan. 30, 2010 at 11:24 p.m.
      I want to speak out on behalf of the Cactus Cafe. I can't believe that this world-famous venue is being closed! What is wrong with UT that a place like this, so important to Austin's music community, can be closed while football teams have unlimited funding? I am full of disgust. I urge all those who have spent an evening at the Cactus in the presence of musical legends to protest! -- Selina Kyle Hendryx
    • Quote 2
      Steve Brooks said on Jan. 30, 2010 at 9:31 p.m.
      As a Texas taxpayer and Austin music fan, I'm dismayed to hear of the university's plans to close the Cactus Cafe. As one of Austin's oldest live music venues, it's an irreplaceable educational, cultural and tourism resource for UT Austin and for the city. As one example, the Web site TripAdvisor.com lists it as the 19th most popular of 205 attractions in Austin. I understand the pressure you're under to cut your budget. I encourage you to make public how much money the university would save by closing the Cactus, and to reconsider whether what it saves will be worth what it loses.
    Share:
    • Digg
    • del.icio.us
    • StumbleUpon
    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Print
    • email

    Related Topics

    , ,