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SXSW Could Be Very Different Next Year

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In the aftermath of the tragic car crash that killed four people at this year’s South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas a new report suggests organisers should implement new policies that could drastically change how the beloved music festival operates.

In a horrible turn of events at this year’s SXSW festival, a driver plowed through a crowd barricade outside of a music venue, leaving four people dead and injuring dozens of others. The driver, Rashad Charjuan Owens, is now facing life in prison.

As reported by Texas Monthly, following the incident SXSW commissioned a safety report from Populous – a global architecture firm who specialises in planning major events and whose other clients include the Super Bowl, the World Cup, and the Olympics.

The report’s suggested changes include “soft searching”, also known as frisking, people on the street for prohibited items, banning unofficial street performers from playing during the festival and even restricting events that take place in parking lots, adjacent to the main 6th Street strip of the festival.

The report also recommends that the city establish a “Clean Zone” that “protects the brand equity of SXSW and its sponsor.” The report did not specify what the “Clean Zone” would entail, but it’s described as being similar to zones enacted during other events that prevent unofficial shows from taking place in close proximity to official SXSW events.

The SXSW festival draws in punters and musicians from across the globe, including thousands from Australia each year. One of the event’s main characteristics is the host of spontaneous, pop up gigs that appear each year, in makeshift locations like carparks and the backs of trucks, held alongside the sponsored shows. Prohibiting these could drastically alter the event.

The report continues that if such measures aren’t taken, the festival “will eventually need to make decisions about whether or not they can continue to exist in their current format and location.” SXSW are under no obligation to implement these changes, but the report adds that “it is very possible that SXSW will have no choice but to entertain notions of bidding their event to other cities to sustain their business model.”

Submissions from musicians wanting to showcase at SXSW 2015 are open until October 10th, 2014. See the SXSW website for details on how to apply.

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