Monday, February 6, 2017

San Antonians gear up for South by Southwest

The nonprofit Choose San Antonio is again heading up a collective effort to showcase the assets in San Antonio’s high-tech, culinary, music and film industries at South by Southwest (SXSW).

Austin’s annual convergence of interactive, film and music will be held March 10-19 this year. Last year, Choose San Antonio put together a coalition of private and public partners, including the city of San Antonio, to officially represent San Antonio in different ways at the festival

Meghan Garza-Oswald, Choose San Antonio’s executive director, said this year’s  SATX@SXSW initiative will be roughly the same as last year’s efforts, but with some tweaks.

“This year, the way we’re doing it is a little different and more strategic because we look at which pillar was most attended, was linked to San Antonio, and had the most applicability to San Antonio,” she added.

Instead of a home base, or Casa San Antonio, at a large Sixth Street restaurant/bar, Choose San Antonio will centralize its activities in a smaller, more intimate venue - Half Step.

Half Step is a cocktail bar in the Rainey Street district , just south of downtown Austin. Plenty of official and unofficial SXSW activities take place south of the Austin Convention Center - the hub of the festival’s interactive portion. In this case, this year’s Casa San Antonio will be in good company. 

Garza-Oswald said the Rainey Street district, with its mix of restaurants, bars, hotels, condos and creative businesses, is a much more fitting spot for Casa Antonio.

“It’s a renovated house. The internal structure of the venue lends itself to a conversational/networking type of environment,” said Garza-Oswald.

“I am excited that Choose SA’s Casa San Antonio will be relocating to Rainey Street,” said Jeret Pena, Choose San Antonio board member, in a press release. “As a business owner, Rainey Street reflects the right character and culture of San Antonio.” 

Garza-Oswald commended Half Step owner Chris Bostick for making Choose San Antonio feel at home when it organized programming there last fall during SXSW Eco.

“Having worked with Choose San Antonio in the past for SXSW ECO, we are extremely excited that they have chosen Half Step for 2017's Casa San Antonio.” said Bostick in the press release.

“I am originally from Austin, but I am thrilled Casa San Antonio will be with us because San Antonio has always been a favorite destination of mine. I'm sure we'll do the city proud." 

Details are being finalized, but here’s a place at Choose San Antonio’s activities at Casa San Antonio during the first three days of SXSW:

*Presentations will touch upon San Antonio as an emerging hub friendly to startups. 

Lorenzo Gomez, executive director of Geekdom, will talk about startup communities and how best can communities such as Geekdom encourage the evolution of a city’s startup tech ecosystem.

Bria Woods and Laura Calo will speak of their journey from college students to developing an app, GLO (Good Looking Out), which seeks to provide safety for college students.

David Henry of Card Isle, speaking from experience, will address how startups can benefit from an incubator or accelerator.

*Other sessions take on San Antonio’s community and cultural development:

Molly Cox, executive director of SA2020, will lead a discussion about her organization and how digital dashboards can help chart the growth of a community across a range of unique indicators.

Hugh Daschbach, Hotel Emma’s culinary concierge, will talk about how Pearl has become the place to be in San Antonio when it comes to culinary experimentation and education blending in with retail opportunities and the live/work lifestyle.

Steve McHugh, chef/founder of Cured restaurant at Pearl, will recall his fight with cancer. He’ll talk about how he managed to protect his professional brand during that battle all the while helping to be part of the redevelopment of the former Pearl Brewery complex.

Those are just a few presentations that’ll be taking place at Half Step. Casa San Antonio is also poised to be the site of a cybersecurity roundtable discussion (including breakfast), and a showcase of smart-city ideas and technology.

Choose San Antonio’s base will have some extra fun activities in the mornings and nights that first weekend of SXSW. 

The schedule so far has called for a taco showcase Friday morning, and McHugh’s curation of a chicken-and-waffles-style breakfast Saturday. Plus, expect some local food trucks to be making their presence known.

There will also be showcase of San Antonio musicians Friday night (courtesy of San Antonio Sound Garden), local filmmakers Sunday night, and a “Life is Better in Texas” party Saturday evening.

“It’s the same amount of panels, but over two days, and we’re using the third day for opportunities to really intimately engage the leads we have met so we can show off San Antonio and some of our initiatives,” Garza-Oswald said.

Plus, like with 2016, Choose San Antonio will organize a presence at the SXSW trade show, March 12-15, at the convention center. 

There, attendees can find the brightly colored icehouse-themed space where attendees will be urged to hang out and learn more about the Alamo City from select “ambassadors” — individuals from local tech, culinary, film, music and other sectors. 

In their own words, they’ll be on hand to promote why San Antonio is more than just a tourism destination. 

On the whole, Choose San Antonio’s community partners will host 10 to 15 small- to medium-sized networking events for South by attendees, San Antonio community members, and select VIP guests. 

San Antonians will take part in other SXSW activities.

“Que Means What” blogger Melanie Mendez-Gonzales makes a return speaking engagement. She’ll be part of the panel, “Pathway to Increase Diversity in the Outdoors.” 

Mendez-Gonzales and other panelists will talk about connecting the nation’s fastest growing populations, such as Hispanics, to the outdoors and heritage sites can promote better health and closing diversity gaps.

A variety of San Antonio-based and -born musical acts will be performing at different places and times during SXSW, such as: Third Root, Rudy Tee y Los Pelicanos Del Rey, Darkness Divided, Harvey McLaughlin, KP tha Profit, House of Kenzo, Question, Lisa Morales, Keedren Boston, Garrett T. Capps, and Ghostpizza

An app, keeping attendees up to date on official Choose San Antonio programming, will be rolling out shortly from Grok Interactive. 

Choose San Antonio also expects, like last year, to have a shuttle to take some local attendees to the conference.
If that’s not enough, Choose San Antonio recently launched its year-long social campaign, #iChooseSA. 

The #iChooseSA campaign will encourage native San Antonians, transplants and boomerang community members to share their San Antonio pride on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. 

The #iChooseSA social uploads will be displayed in an infinite loop while Casa San Antonio takes over Half Step. 

“#iChooseSA because San Antonio is an awesome place to live, work and play,” Mayor Ivy Taylor said in a news release. “Our people are welcoming, our heritage is legendary and our future is bright.”

SXSW staffers showed up at Geekdom in early February to provide information to locals on what to expect from this year's conference.

A kickoff to #SATXatSXSW is scheduled for 6-8:30 p.m. March 1 at Burleson Yard Beer Garden. The free-admission event includes complimentary cocktails, food trucks, and a chance to meet some of the contestants who'll be in the taco challenge at Half Step during SXSW. RSVP here.

Until then, keep up to date with Choose San Antonio's website and social media, as well as SXSW. 

1 comment:

Lone Facet said...

When we were handed the beer menu I was impressed. Really nice selection of beers and ciders at New York venues. With 20 rotating craft beer lines, there is more than enough to choose from. This place is among the best around here.