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Founder’s Message

My passion for the SIMS foundation comes from personal experience with depression and anxiety; knowing full well the mental health struggles in the life of a professional touring musician.

For 10 years starting in 1989, I co-owned with my business partner, Wayne Nagel, the Austin Rehearsal Complex, known by musicians at the time as the ARC. The ARC was Austin music central, a kind of clubhouse where musicians like myself honed our craft, rehearsed, recorded, shot hoops and hung out. It was home to a tight-knit community of musicians and support crew in a slow-moving little city where rents were cheap. Many of the musicians who practiced at the ARC lived right across the street at the Terrace, affectionately nicknamed the ARC Apartments. It was a South Austin music family.

Along with running the ARC with me, Wayne Nagel co-managed Pariah, one of the more popular bands that regularly practiced at the ARC. Their bass player was Sims Ellison. The band had a big, loyal following and just as they were about to break out, the record label shelved their soon-to-be-released album. Not long after, Sims Ellison died by suicide. It was 1995.

After his death, there was an overwhelming outpouring of love and support from family, friends and the entire community. An Austin American Statesman article by Michael Corcoran challenged Wayne and me to do something that would make a lasting difference for the music community. Along with Sims’ father, Don Ellison, Alejandro Escovedo and Walter Taylor, Wayne and I answered the call. There was no time to think; we just did it. The SIMS Foundation was born.

We all know how Austin has grown since then. Musicians continue to make our city famous, and the more famous our city becomes, the more people move here. The more people move here, the less affordable it becomes to be a musician in Austin. The less secure a musician’s livelihood, the more vulnerable we are to instability, anxiety and depression. It’s a loop.

This makes SIMS more important than ever. If music fans give generously to SIMS and enthusiastically support live music, I see a bright future for a vibrant, flourishing music scene. Music is good therapy for musicians and audiences alike.


—Don Harvey, SIMS Foundation co-founder

SIMS is not a 24-Hour crisis line. If you are in crisis, please call 512-472-HELP or 911.

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