SXSW Organizers ‘Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons’

The annual Austin festival was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. This year’s virtual version gives organizers a way to keep momentum going for next year, when they hope events will be live again.

By Shelly BrisbinMarch 18, 2021 11:39 am

Last year’s cancellation of the South by Southwest music, film and interactive festivals in Austin was one of the first signals that COVID-19 would have a long-lasting impact on Texas. This week, SXSW is back, in virtual form. For organizers, putting together a sprawling series of online concerts, screenings and panels is very different than wrangling hundreds of music venues and meeting rooms around Austin.

Tech expert Omar Gallaga told Texas Standard that SXSW 2021 doesn’t feel very much like the physical event of years past.

“This is not going to take the place of a physical event where thousands and thousands of people gather and network and get to have these serendipitous moments that happen every year,” Gallaga said. “I think they’re making lemonade out of lemons.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– Virtual SXSW events include virtual reality, prerecorded panels with production values and more high-profile speakers

– Organizers struggled with online logistics

– This year’s festival is about keeping momentum going for next year’s in-person event

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