Anyone interested in attending SXSW in March in Austin probably has the same agenda, one that conference and festival organizers hope is chock-full of face-to-face meetings and career-enhancing connections, in addition to sessions, showcases, screenings and exhibitions. But it’s not leaving anything to chance. For several years now, the festival organizers have hit the road ahead of the multimedia event to show attendees how it’s done.
SXSW returns to Houston for a Community Meet Up tonight. The networking event begins at 6:30 p.m. at Level Office, located at 720 Rusk. The event is free to attend, but does require an RSVP through Eventbrite; the original deadline of 10 a.m. has been extended to 6 p.m.
“The purpose of the Community Meet Ups is to provide an avenue for the SXSW community in different cities to come together, network and meet SXSW staffers. We use the Community Meet Ups as an opportunity to thank our attendees and provide information regarding what's new for 2017 and generally get people excited about what we're doing,” says Chondra Washington, systems associate and Meet Up organizer for SXSW.
“This season we are doing the Community Meet Ups a little different than in years past. The past Community Meet Ups have been specific to the interactive community but starting this year, we have extended the invites to both music and film, in addition to interactive attendees," Washington said. "I'd love to see a larger response from the Houston community.”
Washington said about a half-dozen SXSW staffers will be on hand at tonight’s event. Because it’s the first time the Meet Up is geared toward interactive, film and music interests, she’s hoping the turnout will be good. But there are some incentives built in to help build a larger audience.
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“Everyone who attends the SXSW Community Meet Up will receive a thank-you email post-event, and in this email they will have an opportunity to get a code to purchase a badge at the lowest rate; one lucky winner will go home with a free badge,” Washington notes.
Previously, the Houston Press has been on hand for some of this local SXSW programming. An October 2015 meeting was held and offered local music acts some tips on getting selected for official showcase gigs. Because we focus on music, it’s natural to target events like this, but Washington says it’s important to note that the event — slated for March 10-19 — is about more than music.
‘In my opinion, one of the misconceptions about SXSW is that we are only a music festival. Yes, we once were a long time ago, but we have grown and expanded into film, entertainment, culture and technology," she explains. "This season there are over 24 different tracks for the conference, numerous featured speakers and our keynote speakers as well.”