SXSW: Increasingly Popular Entertainment And Tech Fest In Texas Pushing For More Latino Participation

It seems like it’s all about Latinos at the popular South By Southwest. or SXSW, fest in Austin, Texas – or at least that's what organizers seemed to have in mind.

The annual gathering brings together the who’s who and the up-and-coming of music, film and technology for nearly two weeks and this year it prominently features many Latino entertainers.

“Let’s look at the trends and let’s be real,” said Alicia Zertuche, producer of South By Americas (SXAmericas), a new section highlighting Hispanic culture, to NBC News. “This is a call to action. We researched and read our surveys, both good and bad. This is the first year and we’re pretty nervous about it. Everyone is excited about it and they love the name.”

SXAmericas has been a long time in the making, reflecting the growth of the country’s Hispanic population over the last decade and the increase in connectivity on social media by the community.

In recent years, SXWS organizers traveled to several Latin American and European countries to network and spark more interest about the confab, particularly online and through social media.

“Lots of people have replicated our model in Latin America and that opened an exchange,” Zertuche said.

Just a few days into the festival, events with directors Diego Luna and Robert Rodriguez and with Cesar Chavez's son Paul have attracted many to attend, so it seems like organizers' strategy may be working. But not all are feeling the love and still think they are somewhat marginalized.

At an event about where Latinos stand in the tech world – held at a Holiday Inn about a mile from the Austin Convention Center – Becky Arrega, a speaker at a session on “Chipreneurs”, said she was disappointed with the location and low turnout.

“We need to find power behind that and demand next year that we’re at the convention center, because it does feel shameful that we’re over here,” she said, according to KERA News.

Zertuche said the plan is to make SXAmericas part of the complete festival for years to come. The size and influence though could determine its size and influence in the future.

“We need a sense of urgency from the Latino community to be present,” she said. “So far, the response has been positive.”

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