Austin arts venues among businesses opting out of open carry

3:11 p.m. Update: This file has been updated to clarify the issue open carry vs. concealed handgun carry on public university campuses. The new open carry law expressly excludes institutions of higher education. However, Senate Bill 11 which goes into effect Aug. 1, 2016, will allow people with concealed handgun licenses to carry weapons into buildings on public campuses.

Here in Texas, according to a new law that went into effect Jan. 1,  those who hold a concealed weapons license in Texas may now openly carry holstered handguns.

However private businesses — which includes most non-profit arts organizations and venues — can prohibit guns if they display approved signs.

In fact many arts venues are already weapon-free.

The Long Center for the Performing Arts, the Paramount and Stateside theaters and the Vortex theater, are among those whose on-site alcohol sales already dictate that they be weapons-free properties.

The Contemporary Austin has long banned weapons at both its Laguna Gloria site and its downtown Jones Center.

As for UT arts venues such as the Blanton Museum of Art and Bass Concert Hall, the new open carry law expressly excludes institutions of higher education.

State law, however, has allowed holders of concealed handgun licenses to carry concealed handguns on the grounds of public institutions of higher learning since 1995.

Senate Bill 11, passed last year, allows the license holders to carry guns into campus buildings,

The following is a working list of arts venues opting out of open carry laws who are informing visitors with the proscribed signage.

If your arts venue would like to be added to our list, email us at

  • Austin Playhouse
  • Ballet Austin Butler Dance Education Center
  • ColdTowne Theater
  • Contemporary Austin, Laguna Gloria and the Jones Center
  • Flatbed Press and Gallery building
  • Hyde Park Theatre
  • Long Center for the Performing Arts
  • Mary Moody Northen Theatre at St. Edward’s University
  • Paramount and Stateside theaters
  • Salvage Vanguard Theater
  • Vortex theater
  • Zach Theatre

Many area restaurants are also opting out of open carry. Most Austin movie theaters have also said that they are prohibiting open carry with the exception of the Imax theater in the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

See our What you need to know about Texas’ open carry law.

Tom Friedman's "Looking Up"
Tom Friedman’s “Looking Up” is on permanent display at Laguna Gloria.



Author: Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the arts critic for the Austin American-Statesman. She writes about visual art, theater, dance, music, performance, public art, architecture and just about any combination thereof.

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