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Finding Education in Festival Realm


This year, six students from the College of Arts and Media have been selected to attend the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas. The festival, now reaching its 29th year, features a vast array of cutting-edge music, film, and interactive media designed to inspire new creative talents.

SXSW is a festival that gathers some of the foremost media leaders to showcase new ideas and to cultivate even more. “One of the most important parts will be the ability of students to network with their peers, innovators, and professionals that share their passion for the industry,” said Bill Lewis, communications director for CAM.

The festival is notorious for showcasing up-and-coming artists and films that promise to be the “next big thing.” With over 2,000 musical acts every year, and even more applying to get in, bands from all over the country are eager to get a spot on the roster at SXSW. Many artists owe much of their current success to their performances at the festival including The White Stripes, The Strokes, and The Darkness.

Film is a prominent aspect of the festival as well. Blockbuster films such as 21 Jump Street, Furious 7, and Cabin In The Woods all had their world premieres at SXSW.

“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to apply with CAM because we are part of the trade show and we are doing so much stuff during the day,” said Elsyia Smith, one of the students selected to attend the event.

The students, chosen through an application process by which they submitted essays, include Ana Gonzalez-Dorta, Tyler Hensley, Kate Marquette, Elysia Smith, Kelly Spencer, and Nicolas van Poollen. They will be representatives of CAM at the festival, each sharing their experiences and the opportunities they have gained from being a student at CU Denver. The hope is that these students will build relationships at SXSW to help CAM and CU Denver further tighten connections in the music, film, and interactive media world.

“As a filmmaker and educator, I’m always trying to explain the value of professional contacts and networking to the next generation of filmmakers,” said David Liban, a CAM teacher who will be going on the trip. “These students will have a great opportunity to not only represent their school, but to meet and interact with some of the most innovative professionals in the industry today.”

The trip was made possible by an alumnus who donated thousands of dollars to allow these students to attend the festival. The students are going almost entirely expense-free thanks to the generous donation. “We are so fortunate to have a donor who saw the value and was willing to fund this opportunity for our students,” said Dean Laurence Kaptain. “These students will represent CAM and CU Denver, as well as gain an experience of a lifetime during the SXSW event.”

The students will be writing about their experiences during the event on the SXSW Ambassador Blog. With hopes of immersing themselves and CU Denver further into the music industry, CAM students strive to find music education beyond the classroom.

College of Arts and Media

CAM Online

SXSW Trade Show

—Dylan Streight

photo courtesy

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