The inaugural Cities Summit at SXSW brings together civic leaders, creative citizens, and urbanists for two days of dynamic programming, performances, pop-up exhibits, and events exploring the future of our cities. Learn more about what the 2018 Cities Summit has to offer.
"There often seems to be two sides to the cities of the future conversation, one is the 'smart cities' arm, focused on innovation and technology as the key to enhancing cities, the other is the 'human-centered' arm, highlighting placemaking, arts and culture as keys to successful urban life," says SXSW Cities Summit Programmer Julie Yost. "The Cities Summit lies in a unique position, as we bridge these communities at SXSW, and our program is emblematic of this. We're highlighting experimentalists and creatives of all sectors, from writers and choreographers to policymakers and entrepreneurs, whose imaginative work is enhancing public life."
Open to all SXSW registrants, the Cities Summit is designed to bridge the dialogue between city leaders and decision makers within SXSW communities – digital creatives, entrepreneurs, designers, artists and others.
Explore Cities Summit programming as we feature topics such as the arts, technology, equity, food, transportation, design, and more. Don't miss Cities Summit sessions from March 12-13 at the Four Seasons. Explore more Cities Summit programming and check out these session highlights below.
Cities Summit Highlights
Choreographing the City: Policy through Performance
Speakers: Michele Martell (Martell Media House), Krissie Marty (Forklift Danceworks), Laura Morrison, and Paul Slutes (Austin City Government)
For 16 years, Forklift Danceworks has utilized the creative process of co-choreographed performances with city workers and communities to tackle city planning issues. Their latest 3-year Pools Project uses dance to engage historically disenfranchised communities on the East Side of Austin as the City crafts a new master plan to address its aging aquatic infrastructure. Forklift embodies creative placemaking to harness the power of narratives to transform communities, attitudes and behaviors.
The Experimentalists: Cities, Political Imagination & Social Creativity
Speakers: Gabriella Gomez-Mont (Laboratorio para la Ciudad)
Five years ago Gabriella Gómez-Mont had a tremendously provocative offer from the newly elected Mayor of Mexico City: to invent a new type of city department from scratch. Shape-shifting and experimental, specializing in the gaps and tensions between things; civics, politics and humanities in continuous conversation.
So what happened when a journalist / visual artist / documentary filmmaker is given free rein to convene a highly multidisciplinary team - artists, filmmakers, designers, writers, activists, historians and architects working hand in hand with political scientists, urban geographers, anthropologists, mathematicians, internationalists, urban planners, civic tech and AI experts - all bound together by their passion for a certain megalopolis? Experiencing the perils and possibilities of urban experiments and collaborative practices in a divided and gargantuan territory; tackling subjects such as governance, mobility, the right to the city and participatory infrastructures, reimagining social and urban realities from within.
City Everywhere: A Storytelling Tour Through the Landscapes of Technology
Speakers: Liam Young (Tomorrows Thoughts Today)
Join us for this special performance to close the inaugural Cities Summit at SXSW.
Our luminous technologies cast shadows that stretch across the planet. Join speculative architect Liam young and an all-seeing smart city operating system as they take a tour in a driverless taxi on a storytelling tour through the flickering screen and beyond the fog of the cloud, to explore City Everywhere, a quasi-fictional city of the near future, extrapolated from the fears and wonders of an increasingly complex present. Seen through the eyes of the machines we are now designing our cities for you will visit the autonomous infrastructures, industrial territories and sacrificial landscapes that span from the robot ports on the Siberian coastline to the massive mining excavations carved from the middle of Australia where our gadgets begin their lives.
Superheroes and the City
Speakers: Jamelle Bouie (Slate), Kriston Capps (CityLab The Atlantic), and Hope Larson (Author of Batgirl)
The NYC that gave rise to the most beloved superheroes in the Golden Age of comic books is transformed. Hell's Kitchen, where Daredevil fought gangsters and criminals, is now home to the High Line. Gotham isn't Gothic anymore. This panel brings together urban journalists (and comic-book fans) with celebrated comic-book authors, who will look at how once-gritty cities of comic-book lore look more and more like futuristic Metropolis—and how those changes are reflected in comic books and films.
Browse All Cities Summit Sessions
Crossover Track Recommendations
Explore topics outside of your focus area and learn from SXSW sessions across all 24 Tracks of Conference programming. These recommended sessions are outside of the Cities Summit but will interest any SXSW attendee.
The World’s Smartest City – Theo Blackwell (Greater London Authority), and Katherine Oliver (Bloomberg Associates) Track: Intelligent Future
Designing Cashless Cities – Shanying Leung (Ant Financial) Track: Design
Life Underground: Meet Subway Riders of the World – Herve Cohen (BelleMoon Productions/La Huit Production) Track: Experiential Storytelling
Purchase your SXSW Badge and reserve your hotel today to experience these sessions along with 10 days of screenings, showcases, exhibitions, networking, and more this March 9-18 in Austin, TX. Take the Tracks Quiz to discover which badge will suit your needs.
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Teaser Photo by Liam Young // City Everywhere