The main changes to this year’s TENWEST festival, which seeks to gather all the forward-thinking minds around Tucson, can be found right in the name.
For 2019, TENWEST is being described as an “Impact Festival,” as opposed to an “Innovation Festival” as in previous years. While the 2018 festival sought to expand beyond business and into arts and education, the 2019 festival is more than an expansion. It’s nearly a reinvention.
“After last year’s TENWEST, we had a public call for applications,” said TENWEST festival director Dre Voelkel. “We added a lot more into new areas we didn’t have in the past… The plan is to have all these really interesting, powerful people connecting across disciplines.”
As a result of this public input, the 2019 TENWEST festival, which runs from Oct. 11-20, includes conferences and panels on building innovative cities, sustainability, education, art, music and film. This year, TENWEST is also partnering with the Arizona Film Expo, the University of Arizona, the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, Pima Community College and Tucson Meet Yourself.
While the 10-day festival includes too many events to list here, Voelkel listed a few of the most exciting and critical events:
• The “Building Innovative Cities Conference” kicks TENWEST off with a symposium including Mayor Jonathan Rothschild about cities of the future. This conference gathers multiple mayors from across the nation to discuss “smart cities,” and is designed for professionals, business leaders and community builders.
• The “86,400 Seconds of Comedy Telethon” is a 24-hour comedy event featuring local comedians from the Tucson Comedy Alliance. This is available to see live or on live-stream, and the telethon’s donations benefit arts in education.
• The “Creative Conference” discusses film, fashion, music and creative professional development. This conference is designed to help artists, cultural non-profits and creative professionals understand the power of creativity in communities.
• The “Women’s Hackathon” is a free, women-founded “hackathon” where women can collaborate and develop tech-driven projects.
• The “Education Conference” discusses classroom innovations and teachers’ professional development. This conference includes a keynote workshop on storytelling in classrooms, and a behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar artists do their jobs.
“There are great events to bring together artists of multiple disciplines,” Voelkel said. “We’re focusing on big ideas.”
While UA has supported TENWEST in the past, this upcoming festival is the first year of a five-year commitment to support the festival as part of their new “Strategic Plan.” Local partnerships such as this are part of the TENWEST’s multidisciplinary expansion. According to Voelkel, the festival has roughly doubled in size every year, and this year is going to be the largest yet. Voelkel estimates TENWEST will see 10,000 to 15,000 attendees over the 10 days.
“When people hear innovation, they might think science and technology,” Voelkel said. “But you can be innovative in equity and ways that go beyond the status quo. It’s celebrating our community in a really powerful way.”
The TENWEST Impact Festival runs from Friday, Oct. 11, to Sunday, Oct. 20, at multiple locations throughout Tucson. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit tenwest.com