Austin is reducing the amount of temporary events during SXSW after last year when all mayhem broke lose. Factors from unregulated and free alcohol to a multitude of temporary events escalated to the death of one attendee from vehicular manslaughter by an intoxicated Rapper, Rashad Owens.
The pressure is on for Austin, and those in charge of planning on the SXSW festival. The Austin Chronicle went into a detailed explanation of many of the changes for the upcoming March festival. The Austin Center of Events (ACE) plans on rejecting 35 more temporary events than in years past, going from 140 events to only 105. ACE Corporate Special Events Program Manager Bill Manno hopes to cut down on the extra outside events and some SXSW events.
“If you’re looking at what part of the crowd coming down here that we’re trying to address, it’s the people who are coming here for the free events and free alcohol.” Don Pitts, Music Program Manager for the City of Austin, explained. “We’ve been very conscious of not wanting to over-cut, or overreact,” said Pitts. “We just can’t keep the same business model we’ve held for SXSW through the years. We have to compensate for the changes.”
ACE announced that it would reapply standard amplified-sound restrictions for outdoor events: a 10:30pm curfew Sunday through Wed¬nes¬day, 11pm on Thursday, and midnight on Friday and Saturday. Exemptions to extend curfews until 2am remain available for events in brick-and-mortar venues – unless that venue sits within 600 feet of a residential property.
The Austin Police department is also looking into changes for the upcoming year, but with the expectation that the party will only grow. They plan to increase the overall police involvement by raising the number of squad cars and officers deployed throughout downtown. This is especially true with increases from 2pm to 2am during the week, and an increase of 120 officers on Friday and Saturday.
Along with this the APD plans to pull “anywhere from 67 to 87 units” and place them downtown to serve as barricade reinforcements along Red River and Sixth Street, where the police hope to eventually have retractable bollards installed. Add to that another120 officers “who are trained as crowd control” to prevent any street scuffles and fights.
The APD is even taking to their technology to prevent fights, hoping that 45 new high powered LED lights on Sixth Street and repositioning of 41 mobile High Activity Location Observation cameras will curb street violence. Despite the unfinished traffic plans, since SXSW is yet to submit a proposal, APD is planning to also implement a quick-respond force “staged in certain key locations” to keep a steady flow of traffic.
No matter what plans may be changing for SXSW, mxdwn will continue to bring you the latest updates on the music and plans as they roll out. To read more on the permit issue, the car crash, or even just check out what artists are performing, click the links above.