Mar 2, 2022 - News

SXSW roars back to life with keynote speaker announcements

A closed night-club in downtown Austin.

South by Southwest banners still decorate the streets after the festival was canceled in March 2020. Photo: Gary Miller/Getty Images

SXSW announced a stellar lineup of keynote speakers on Tuesday, and suddenly the sunny hustle and bustle of March in Austin feels familiar again.

Driving the news: Newly added speakers include film directors Ron Howard and Daniel Kwan, journalist Audie Cornish, musician Brian Eno, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Maria Ressa and Breonna Taylor's sister, Ju'Niyah Palmer.

Why it matters: For many people, the abrupt cancellation of SXSW in March 2020, just ahead of the festival's start, was when the enormity of COVID's disruption hit.

  • It was "the week the music stopped," as the American-Statesman put it in an oral history.

Yes, but: Bracketing, if possible, the devastating impact on the local economy of conference cancellations, wasn't it kind of nice when Austin felt a little sleepy again?

What they're saying: "It's been three years since we've held an in-person SXSW, and we couldn't be more excited and honored to bring together … our entire lineup," said Hugh Forrest, the festival's chief programming officer.

  • This year's celebration runs March 11-20.

The bottom line: Dust off your lanyards — it's almost South-by time!


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