Announcing South By South Lawn: A White House Festival of Ideas, Art, and Action

South by South Lawn

Earlier this year, President Obama traveled to South By Southwest in Austin for a conversation on civic engagement and to challenge creative thinkers and entrepreneurs from across the country to help tackle our toughest challenges. On Monday, October 3, we’re celebrating that spirit of innovation with a White House event called South By South Lawn.

South By South Lawn, a twist on South by Southwest, brings together creators, innovators, and organizers who work day in and day out to improve the lives of their fellow Americans and people around the world.

Do you know someone who’s doing great work and should be there? You can nominate yourself or someone you know below. 

In coordination with the American Film Institute (AFI), the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities (PCAH), and South By Southwest, the South Lawn event will be comprised of three parts:

  • INTERACTIVE: Panel discussions throughout the day will explore topics like how to make change stick with organizers who are having an impact, as well as a discussion with influencers who are using their platforms to bring about positive change. Interactive booths will encourage attendees to engage with and learn about new technologies and innovations.
  • FILM: The film portion features the 3rd Annual White House Student Film Festival in association with its founding partner, the American Film Institute. Students in grades K-12 submitted more than 700 short films round this year's theme, The World I Want to Live In. The submissions are inspiring and we're excited to share official selections and honor young filmmakers as part of this event.
  • MUSIC: Musical performances will include well-known and emerging artists who are using their music to inspire audiences.
President Obama at SXSW

President Barack Obama participates in a discussion and Q&A with Evan Smith, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Tribune, during the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival at the Long Center for Performing Arts in Austin, Texas, March 11, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy) 

As the President said in Selma, “It is you, the young and fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated generation in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow.” In that spirit, South by South Lawn will challenge young leaders to build on our progress toward an America that is more tolerant, fair, and full of opportunities. 


Nominate yourself or someone you know to attend the White House’s South by South Lawn. 


On October 3, the White House will convene creators, innovators, and organizers from across the country for an evening of music, film, and great ideas. It is a call to arms for every American to roll up their sleeves and make a positive mark on our country — and a celebration of the great work so many of us have already accomplished.

Know somebody creating change — big or small — in your community? We’re inviting you to nominate yourself or somebody you know to attend. 

Submit details below: