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

What to look out for at SXSW’s Casa México on Saturday

Centravrvs plays on the first night of Casa México on Friday, March 11, 2015. James Barragán/ AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Centavrvs plays on the first night of Casa México on Friday, March 11, 2015. James Barragán/ AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Saturday will kick off the second day of the inaugural Casa México event at South by Southwest.

The event’s organizers, which include the Mexican government, business leaders and a prestigious Mexican university, hope to showcase the country as a powerhouse for culture, technology and innovation. Here are some of the panels to look out for on Saturday. All events will be held at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.

Mario Valle, director of business development in emerging markets for Electronic Arts, will speak at a panel at 2 p.m. titled Mexico 2030: The King of the Emerging World. Valle, who is Mexican, will discuss how Mexico and Latinos in the United States are poised to play a large role in the future of the video game industry.

At 4 p.m., Latin American analyst Reggie Thompson will moderate a chat with Mexico’s Undersecretary to North America Carlos Perez-Verdía on the challenges ahead in U.S.-Mexico relations. Expect some chatter on the importance of Texas to that relationship and the inevitable Donald Trump question.

At 6:30 p.m., Mexican government and business leaders alongside Austin Mayor Steve Adler will officially announce the launching of the Pan American Venture Fund and Accelerator, a $30 million initiative that will help develop Mexican businesses that will gradually move to Austin when they are ready to seek bigger funding.

The event also has some musical performances tonight. Fusion band Nortec Collective, will play the Casa México stage from 6 to 8 p.m. Toy Selectah, who missed his set Friday, is scheduled to play from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., followed by Mexican rock band Centavrvs from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.