White House Brings SXSW Vibe to South Lawn

Ahead of President Obama's departure from office, the White House will hold a first-of-its kind cultural event that takes more than a little inspiration from South by Southwest. The event is being put on with the help of the Austin-based SXSW team.

South by Southwest (SXSW) is known for a lot of things, but an East Coast location isn’t one of them—it’s an Austin, Texas, festival through and through.

But that doesn’t mean the festival organizers aren’t willing to make an exception for a departing president. Last week, the White House revealed it will host a SXSW-like festival at the White House, on the lawn, in October.

The name? South by South Lawn. (Funny.)

The festival—which will combine elements of SXSW’s focus on film, music, and interactive technology into a single day—has the support of SXSW organizers, along with the American Film Institute (AFI) and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

The interactive section will include a variety of panel sessions and booths, while the music section will include a number of up-and-coming artists.

The film section, meanwhile, will be an extension of an existing event: The third annual White House Student Film Festival, a collaboration between AFI and the White House targeted at K-12 students. This year, 700 submissions were received.

The new White House event comes roughly six months after Barack and Michelle Obama became the first sitting First Couple to speak at SXSW, an annual event that celebrates its 30th anniversary next March.

Does South by South Lawn (or SXSL, as the kids are sure to call it) sound like an event you’d like to check out? That’s the tough part: It’s by invitation only. Until September 10, the White House is accepting nominations for potential attendees, and it’s looking for “creators, innovators, and organizers from across the country.”

If you fit the bill, you can sign up on the White House website.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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