AUSTIN (KXAN) — South by Southwest will be taking over Austin streets and venues in just a few weeks. However, Friday marks the deadline for promoters to submit permits applications and it appears this year’s SXSW may not be as congested.
The city is enforcing a cap on the number of events to 120. Last year 147 events took place.
The reason for the changes are due to lessons learned from previous years. For example, in 2014 the city was unaware Lady Gaga was the talent set to perform on a small stage downtown. As a result the city now requires those who submit a permit to include the level of talent who will perform.
Most promoters do not want to state the name of the talent on the application in an effort to keep it secret and that requires city staff to then call the promoter to gather additional information to determine if the site requested will be safe.
Another reason for the smaller cap is due to the number of fire safety inspectors who must look at each site before an event can take place.
“Fire inspectors can’t inspect those sites until they are set up and they are often times not set up until the day before so they are going all over trying to inspect these sites the day before or two days before or the day of the event,” said Bill Manno, Corporate Special Events Program Manager, City of Austin.
Manno said it’s also becoming harder for promoters to find open spaces to hold their events because several of the big open parking lots have become buildings. For example, MTV used to hold their awards show on the site where the Fairmont Hotel is being constructed in the Rainy Street District, two other parking lots along Red River also have hotels under construction. KXAN learned Fador Fort will once again be able to utilize the strip of land in east Austin along the railroad line between 4th and 5th St. that was supposed to be under construction right now. Due to development delays the space became available.