A group of local business people in Austin are attempting to salvage what they can from the South by Southwest crash and burn. They plan to stage “micro-events” throughout the city next week and beyond so that locals can figure out how to get through the coming months without the yearly revenue injection from the festival.
Kristen Carson, the founder of Inn Cahoots, a private group travel hotel, is spearheading the Rally Austin efforts. They have a website set up so that groups still planning to hold tech, music and film events can tout their availability.
“We are helping to aggregate and put a platform up,” said Carson, who said the events “were kind of orphaned” when SXSW cancelled. “But there’s still a lot of people and local businesses that need to be supported.”
Right now, Carson anticipates about 50 micro-events, ranging from panels to performances to film premieres. The events are free and are aimed at keeping the community together and strategizing survival tactics.
Events will be kept under 2,500 people, with on-site hand washing and sanitation stations available. Signage will encourage alternative ways to greet beyond hugs and handshakes. The site also cautions, “If you are sick, stay home.”
Carson herself lost bookings totaling $250,000 from the SXSW cancellation, and other small business people also are out the cost of supplies gathered in anticipation of huge crowds. Carson related one business person who has $7,000 worth of cookie dough on hand.
The Rally Austin Coalition kickoff event will be on Monday, with government officials expected to be on hand. Some SXSW advisors are expected, but have no formal role in the organization.
Although Carson expects mostly locals to attend the events, some out-of-towners remain enthusiastic about gathering in Austin.