SXSW Has Just Dropped Its Inaugural Sydney Lineup Details — and Amy Webb Is the First Keynote Speaker

For a week in October, SXSW Sydney will debut with more than 1000 sessions, including dedicated music, gaming and screen festivals.
Sarah Ward
Published on February 09, 2023

Since 1987, if you've wanted to hit up South by Southwest, then you've needed to visit Austin in Texas. In October 2023, however, that'll no longer be the case. In what was perhaps Australia's biggest cultural news of 2022, the acclaimed tech, innovation, music, gaming, screen and culture festival and conference announced that it'll stage its first-ever non-US event in Sydney this year — and now it's starting to drop impressive lineup details.

SXSW Sydney will run for a week from Sunday, October 15–Sunday, October 22 around the Harbour City, hosting 1000-plus sessions — and it also has its first-ever keynote speaker, too. American futurist, The Genesis Machine author, and Future Today Institute founder and CEO Amy Webb will do the honours. A favourite on lists of powerful and influential women — she was named "one of the five women changing the world" by Forbes in 2022, and one of the BBC's 100 Women of 2020 — Webb is renowned for her focus on data-driven, technology-led foresight methodology to ponder how the future might eventuate. And, ticking plenty of SXSW boxes, she's also a frequent collaborator with film and TV producers about science, tech and what's to come.

Amy Webb

More keynote speakers are set to be unveiled in the coming months, but SXSW has also revealed an initial list of featured speakers. Among those getting chatting are Ben Lamm and Andrew Pask, who'll discuss their work on the de-extinction of the woolly mammoth and the Tasmanian tiger; Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist of Canva and former Apple Chief Evangelist, who'll talk evolving tech; lawyer, writer and filmmaker Larissa Behrendt, fresh from helming Richard Bell-focused documentary You Can Go Now; and Saudi women's rights activist Manal al-Sharif.

The roster of talent goes on, also featuring Jack Reis of First Nations cyber-security business Baidam Solutions; Per Sundin, the Swedish CEO of Pophouse Entertainment who has worked with Avicii, ABBA, Tove Lo and Swedish House Mafia, and had a part in the rise of Spotify; and BAFTA Games Award-winning game designer Sam Barlow. Plus, Twitch's Chief Product Officer Tom Verrilli, 88rising's Sean Miyashiro and Yoomin Yang, a producer on the Korean adaptation of Netflix's Money Heist, are all also on the bill.

Manal al-Sharif

If you're more interested in who'll be playing tunes during the SXSW Sydney Music Festival, a few names are starting to trickle in there as well. Nigerian British indie-pop songwriter Connie Constance will head Down Under for the first time, as will Canada's Ekkstacy, London-based quartet Los Bitchos, Japanese punk rockers Otoboke Beaver and teenage American rapper Redveil.

Obviously, all of the above names — plus others listed below — are just the beginning of what's promising to be SXSW's massive Sydney debut. The fest has dropped a few more details about how it'll work, too, including the fact that it'll all take place within a walkable precinct within the Sydney CBD, Haymarket, Darling Harbour, Ultimo, Chippendale and more. Think of the fest's footprint as a huge hub, with festivals within the bigger fest, exhibitions, talks, networking opportunities and streetside activations popping up everywhere. So far, venues named include Powerhouse Museum, ICC Sydney, UTS, Central Park Mall, the Goods Line Walk, The Abercrombie and Lansdowne Hotel.

Otoboke Beaver by Mayumi Hirata

So, attendees can hit up the SXSW Sydney Conference, which is where those keynotes, presentations, panels, workshops and mentor sessions come in — more than 400 of them. And, there's the SXSW Sydney Technology & Innovation Exhibitions, which is all about innovative and emerging tech and entertainment companies from across the Asia-Pacific region. Plus, at the Startup Village, up-and-comers from all industries and sectors will have space to meet, present and chat.

SXSW's arts fests will span the SXSW Sydney 2023 Music Festival, which will be focused on live music venues in central Sydney — and the SXSW Sydney Gaming Festival, complete with more than 100 local and international independent games to play at venues (alongside demonstrations, launches performances, exhibitions and social gatherings).

Movie and TV lovers, get excited — because the SXSW Sydney Screen Festival isn't just a film fest. There'll be flicks to see, including at red-carpet premieres; episodic content; and digital, XR and social content. Expect Q&As and panel discussions with the folks behind them as well.

Can't wait, whether you're a Sydney local or planning to head along from elsewhere in Australia — or New Zealand? Platinum and industry badges are already available at early-bird prices, with more ticketing to come.

EKKSTACY by Gilbert Trejo


Amy Webb

Andrew Pask
Ben Lamm
Guy Kawasaki
Jack Reis
Kyas Hepworth
Larissa Behrendt
Manal Al-Sharif
Michael J Biercuk
Per Sundin
Que Minh Luu
Robyn Denholm
Rohit Bhargava
Sam Barlow
Sean Miyashiro
Sheila Nguyen
Sung-Eun Youn
Tom Verrilli
Yiying Lu
Yoomin Yang

Connie Constance
Los Bitchos
Otoboke Beaver

SXSW Sydney will run from Sunday, October 15–Sunday, October 22 at various Sydney venues — head to the festival's website for further details.


Published on February 09, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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