Almost 35 years ago, a small cadre of journalists and musicians held a series of secret confabs at the offices of the Austin Chronicle, the city’s venerable alternate weekly newspaper. They recognized the city and surrounding Hill Country’s bounty of singing and songwriting talent, the burgeoning and independent filmmaking streak emerging from the University of Texas, and the nascent technology industry taking root with the founding of Dell Computers.
Within a year the group went public, announcing the first South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. Music served as the uniting force, but enriching the community was part and parcel of its DNA. Within seven years film and technology joined the mix, and the little festival-that-could had grown into one of the world’s premier incubators for ideas and creative careers. What’s more, the appeal of the Central Texas region’s rolling landscape, outdoor recreational opportunities, indie vibe, and mix of history, museums, food, and cultural touchstones drew new residents and billions in investment.
Coastal Georgia has all the makings for a similar art-music-technology hub.
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