Chicago music and tech leaders alike are heading down to SXSW this weekend to represent Chicago and its ‘makers’ at the famous Austin music, film and tech conference that kicks off tomorrow.
“The idea is to have a coordinated presence there,” organizer Philip Nevels, executive director of ChicagoNEXT at Chicago World Business said. “We want to come together and provide a cohesive image.”
To represent Chicago’s tech scene, Howard Tullman of 1871, J.B. Pritzker of New World Ventures, Harper Reed of Obama’s re-election campaign and Zach Kaplan of Inventables will be heading down to Austin for the festival along with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and many others.
The group will have a booth set up on the interactive floor and, on Tuesday, they will be hosting a VIP reception before a music showcase featuring only Chicago musicians such as Chance the Rapper and The Hood Internet.
The reception has “no formal programming,” besides “just talking to people about Chicago” to give them a taste of the city and its leaders, Nevels said.
“It’s really going to be about showcasing Chicago’s makers,” Nevels said. “It’s not ‘rah, rah, look how great Chicago is.’ We are not trying to compete for attention down there.”
Getting these movers and shakers on board for this trip to Austin was just a matter of Nevels and other organizers like Choose Chicago’s Melissa Cherry asking them to join, they said. Now, their plan is in full motion: the organizers are expecting 300 to 350 at the music showcase event and thousands more to pass through the booth. The goal, Nevels said, is to make this an annual SXSW event for Chicago.