Focus, Arts & Entertainment, and Marketing, PR & Advertising

House in Austin is home to Michigan products, music

Organizers create pop-up marketing venue for South by Southwest festival.

March 13, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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SXSW House
The Michigan House pop-up venue stands on the grounds of SXSW. Courtesy Middle West

Michigan is taking Texas by storm.

During the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Conference and Festival — or SXSW, as it’s known — a collection of Michigan organizations, businesses and artists will set up house in Austin, Texas, March 16-19.

The Creative Many Michigan House is led by Creative Many Michigan, an economic development organization aimed at developing creative people, places and economy in the state. It was curated by Middle West — which creates event-driven pop-up environments of Michigan products — with the goal of sharing Michigan’s creative economy that contributes $3.6 billion in wages, 74,000 jobs and 9,758 businesses.

“The house will be a great platform for us to bring visibility to the economic opportunities across Michigan’s creative industries and cultivate growth prospects, resources and networks for creative jobs and business growth,” Creative Many Michigan President and CEO Jennifer Goulet said.

The house will be outfitted with Michigan-made furniture, art and design and will be a constant buzz of programming, dialogue, making connections and music based on the Mitten State. The fridges will even be full of Founders Brewing Co.’s beer.

Organizations and companies in the partnership are ArtPrize, Meijer, Clark Hill PLC, Michigan Film Office, Start Garden, Downtown Detroit Partnership and Masco Corporation Foundation. Other sponsors from West Michigan include Love’s Ice Cream, CWD Real Estate, Proper Soda, The Right Place and Herman Miller.

Creative Many Michigan House will be open to the public during four days of the music portion of SXSW. ArtPrize will host live recording sessions throughout the four days. ArtPrize collaborated with AMI Entertainment and Grand Rapids-based Dizzy Bird Records to find Michigan talent in Austin for the festival and set up the recording studio. Bands — up to six a day — will record in Texas, and the resulting songs will be entered into the music portion of ArtPrize 2015.

“When people think of ArtPrize, they think of 2D and 3D art,” said ArtPrize Public Relations Manager Jaenell Ott. “But there’s a great music scene (in Grand Rapids) and it’s really important to ArtPrize, as well.

Various panel discussions, meet-and-greets and artist showings also will be included.

Ott said the house was talked about for several months, and Creative Many pushed it forward to the point of happening. Ott isn’t sure if it’s the first time a state has put up a pop-up venue such as this, but she did say pop-ups are usually about brands or single organizations pushing their products.

“It’s taking an interesting twist away from the tourist aspect of Michigan,” she said. “It’s marketing Michigan with its arts and design.”

The organizers of the project are excited about the creative companies, established and new, that call Michigan home — whether that’s Detroit, Grand Rapids, the lakeshore or Up North — and want to share it.

Middle West has done similar pop-up events in Michigan, but decided SXSW was the right time and place to spread the message further afield.

“The creative electricity that we see every day needs to be on display on a stage like SXSW,” said Middle West co-creator Ted Velie. “We’ve put on pop-up events around the state in hopes of letting people know the great things being made all around them. It’s time to take that message national.”

Michiganders who are in Austin for SXSW are encouraged to stop by, but the house is open to anyone and everyone. With music, engaging design, interesting discussions — and beer, Ott said the house will be a center of activity.

“We really want it to be a haven — have people come in, relax and mingle,” Ott said. “It’s going to be busy and energetic.”

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