Prepare for increased FOMO next spring — South by Southwest 2019 will fall the week before spring break for UT and other surrounding schools.
Last month, SXSW announced the upcoming iteration of its yearly mega-festival will run from March 8 to 17 in 2019, confirming the misalignment with UT’s spring break, March 18 to 23. A statement made on March 27 by SXSW said the festival contacted UT last fall to try to get the school to change its calendar but UT refused. A response released by UT the same day said it values its relationship with the festival but regrets SXSW’s decision to choose a conflicting date. News of the clashing schedules has given rise to multiple concerns of increased traffic and reduced volunteers.
UT director of media relations J.B. Bird said the university didn’t stray from previous spring break cycles and the misalignment is the fault of the festival. Despite these circumstances, Bird said the University will assist in making sure students will be able to participate in the festival.
“It’s (spring break) always in March, it’s always around 7–8 weeks after MLK Day,” Bird said. “We hope students will continue to participate heavily in South by, we’ll find ways to make that happen, but ultimately (SXSW) controls the schedule and we regret that they chose to schedule their conference at a different time than UT-Austin’s
Bird confirmed SXSW representatives reached out to the University in November, but said by that time, the school could no longer change their calendar. Although the university regrets the mix-up, they hope to retain a positive relationship with them in the future.
“After SXSW contacted us, we told them we were unable to change our calendar because of the many people who plan around it and the fact that it was already out,” Bird said. “We have very positive connections to SXSW and we always want that to continue, so ideally we won’t experience this again.”
According to Roland Swenson, SXSW CEO and cofounder, the University did deviate from the norm for the past 25 years, as UT’s spring break has traditionally fallen on the third week of March. Due to the complexity of the festival, changing their schedule is not an option as they rely on this trend to stay consistent as they set dates years in advance.
“We chose the dates for SXSW 2019 over ten years ago with the intent of syncing with Texas spring break based on a decades-long precedent set by UT-Austin,” Swenson said. “It’s always been critical for us to match UT’s spring break dates, as we don’t have the luxury of waiting until 18 months out to set our dates.”
Swenson said they face extra hurdles to tackle in order to make next year’s SXSW seamless success. Aside from the obvious issue of traffic, there will be a shortage of volunteers and workers.
“We’re concerned about student employees who take on extra hours at bars, restaurants and hotels during SXSW to make extra money for tuition and expenses.” Swenson said. “SXSW will face a significant impact in our volunteer numbers. Of the one-third of our volunteers that are students, a majority of them are enrolled at UT.”
Radio-television-film freshman Brooklyn Wilson volunteered this SXSW 2018 and said the conflicting schedules greatly upset her. She said the distraction SXSW will bring during that week will pull students away from their studies. “I must choose to participate in SXSW and skip classes or miss out on SXSW and attend classes,” Wilson said. “SXSW was one of the best weeks I’ve experienced, so I will probably end up missing classes that week, as I’m sure many other students will too.”