SXSW is breaking with tradition and offering an online segment for its 2021 lineup. According to the organization, SXSW Online will premiere next year, and it will offer a digital experience “that brings you the benefits of sessions, film festival screenings, music showcases, networking, and exhibitions.”

The company also announced a few dates, confirming that SXSW EDU Online will run from March 9th through March 11th, and SXSW Online start on March 16th and go on through March 20th.

“The challenge of building a new future is one that we’re excited to tackle. This has been such a year of change and we, like the entire world, are reshaping our perspective on how we connect. We’re pleased to introduce SXSW Online as part of our program for 2021, and regardless of platform, we will continue to bring together the brightest minds from creative industries worldwide.” – Roland Swenson, CEO and Co-Founder

The company said that entries for the 2021 online event will open on Tuesday, October 6th with PanelPicker proposals for SXSW and SXSW EDU, as well as Film Festival Submissions. Instead of the standard showcase application process, the Music Festival will be curated by programming staff with priority given to showcase presenters and artists who were scheduled for the 2020 event.

SXSW is working with the City of Austin and public health authorities on plans for a 2021 physical event, and the company stated that it will provide updates at a later date.

The health crisis shut down almost every major physical event in 2020. Music tours from The Smashing Pumpkins, BTS, Imagine Dragons, Lady Gaga, Marshmello, and others all ended early, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and the Rockettes were forced to call off shows. The annual events, like Lollapalooza, Levitation, Summerfest, Reading and Leeds music festivals, Coachella, and Stagecoach were all grounded as well. After delaying as long as they could, SXSW was canceled due to the coronavirus in March 2020.

After it became clear to organizers and brands that they would be unable to host physical events, everything moved to online and virtual venues. Major gatherings like San Diego Comic-Con held virtual panels for fans, and even this year’s Emmy Awards went on without a crowd. It’s nice to see that virtual events are expanding, and becoming more organized, and that more people will be able to join in.

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