MWTX

SXSW Reflection (Part Two): Future Shock

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Or: Five Ways to Keep SXSW from Eating Austin Alive

By Rob Patterson | March 19, 2013

(edited down a lot and emphasis often refocused, BOLDED for the busy, read the whole thing at: http://www.austinpost.org/sxsw-2013/sxsw-music-2013-report-card-time-some-analysis-improvements-changes )

1. Figure Out Where Festival Density Can Grow

This year’s Music Fest was the least far-flung in recent memory: No showcases at campus area clubs like the Hole in the Wall and 29th Street Ballroom, only the free Auditorium Shores concerts and shows at the Long Center, Continental Club and Saxon Pub south of the river. SXSW 2013 Music was concentrated in the center city: largely the Sixth St., Warehouse, Red River and Rainey Districts. Two large stages were located adjacent to the Convention Center along Cesar Chavez. This all made for fairly easy show-hopping even if traversing Sixth St. wasn’t easy most nights and a near Olympic challenge on Friday and Saturday.

2013 was SXSW as the compact city, but Austin is rapidly becoming a residential center city; the large stage sites by the Convention Center will soon be occupied by new highrises. As residential density increases downtown, the hustle, bustle and most of all noise is bound to affect and conflict with the quality of life for those who live downtown.

2. Some Venue Street Signage Please?

One way to help enable the flow of SXSW badge and wristband attendees would be to hang banners in front of each venue well above crowd level that clearly denote that the places are showcase hosts, and with each night’s scheduled acts and set times. You come up to a venue with a show you’d like to see but the line is long? Just scan the street nearby and it’s so much easier to see what the other options are. The effect on the crowd flow and distribution could make a difference.

3. Don’t Overlook Local Acts

This is a consistent gripe within the Austin music scene. Ten percent of the 2,200-plus 2013 showcase acts were local artists, which is certainly a fair amount. But without the local music community that keeps the clubs going the rest of the year, SXSW couldn’t happen. It’s in their own self-interest, as well as a civic duty, to do what they can to make doubly sure that Austin’s best get their stage time. The time is nigh for SXSW to explore how it can better serve an ever-growing and more significant local scene.

4. Fix the Mobility Mess

Fix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility MessFix the Mobility Mess

Between now and March 2014, Austin needs to take a serious look at how to move people in and out of and around downtown.

5. Give showcase acts longer to play

40 minutes is a shame. As SXSW becomes a festival where even superstars play, a revamp is called for. And one that opens up shows even further to the Austin community.

MWTX 5. Austin is likely the most prominent year-round event-hosting locale in America, rivaled only by Las Vegas.

In the coming months, all options need to be explored by SXSW, the City, CapMetro and other parties involved to continue to allow all that SXSW does to thrive while also considering how the inconvenience to the city’s residents measures up against the economic benefits. And it’s not just a matter of SXSW that makes this a pressing priority.This year ACL Fest expands to two weekends. F1 will continue to grow as will the slate and size of other races at Circuit of the Americas. Fun Fun Fun Fest just received a major capital infusion that will enable it to expand. As Austin grows, so will the other events throughout the annual calendar.

SXSW offers the biggest test case for making Austin a welcoming, efficient and enjoyable host city for such events and the visitors that attend them. And maintaining that in a way that respects the fact that for some 1.5 or so million of us in the area this is also our home. Hence a concerted community examination of how things can be improved.

In the end, it’s undeniable that SXSW has grown into an astonishingly vital event that serves our city well. And even as much as we locals may gripe, we should still be proud. It’s an inextricable part of what Austin is all about. It offers lessons that can help us create a more livable and mobile city the rest of the year.

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Written by messwatx

2013/03/23 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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