Casa México will return to SXSW in 2017

The Mariachi del Sur from Bedichek Middle School under the direction of Philip Swasey performs at the Casa Mexico SXSW Interactive showcase at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center on March 11, 2016. (John Clark for American-Statesman)

The Mariachi del Sur from Bedichek Middle School, under the direction of Philip Swasey, performs at the Casa Mexico SXSW Interactive showcase at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center on March 11, 2016. (John Clark for American-Statesman)

Just a day after the end of Mexico’s first large-scale participation in South by Southwest, the consul general of Mexico in Austin, Carlos González Gutiérrez, said Tuesday that the Casa México showcase would return to the festival in 2017.

The event, organized by various sectors of the Mexican government, private businesses and a prestigious Mexican university, was held at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center from March 11 to 14. Its focus was on promoting Mexico as a hub for culture and innovation and was home to several panels on entrepreneurship and technology and various fast-pitch competitions.

“The event went very well,” González Gutiérrez said. “I think Casa México filled a void and it’s here to stay.”

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The Mexican diplomat said there were some growing pains during the showcase that led to poor participation in some of the events. It also had difficulty attracting people from other showcases. Other setbacks included musical acts not arriving in time for their scheduled sets. Famed Mexican DJ Toy Selectah, for example, missed his set playing the inaugural ceremony Friday and was rescheduled to play Saturday.

González Gutiérrez said some of the logistic failures were due to a rushed preparation. The organizing committee for the event planned Casa México in three months.

“I think we learned a lot from our mistakes,” he said. “We needed to jump into the water to learn how to swim and I think we demonstrated that Mexico has a very important role here and a very strong presence.”

Still, the event also had significant success. It attracted big names in the technology field such as Mario Valle Reyes, director of business development in emerging markets for Electronic Arts, and high-ranking Mexican diplomats like Carlos Perez-Verdía, the country’s undersecretary to North America. And the showcase was also the site of the announcement of a new $30 million venture fund in Austin that will help develop foreign-born entrepreneurs.

González Gutiérrez said that in 2017 the event’s organizers will look to include discussions with SXSW organizers so that its panels can take place inside the Austin Convention Center or in another venue downtown, where much of the festival’s foot traffic is. Next year’s event, González Gutiérrez said, will likely be shorter than four days and the marketing and promotion will be improved. The space for networking sessions, which was one of the most popular features of the showcase, will likely be enlarged, he added.

Additional reporting by James Barragán