Why SXSW? by Barry Taylor

"The SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas, draws musicians of every kind from all over the world who bring the city alive with every kind of music all day and deep into each night of the spring ten-day event. Every year Fuller’s Brehm Center offers an unparalleled immersive experience at this premier gathering of musicians on a citywide stage—with a billing that includes everything from an indie-guitarist at the Starbucks to Bruce Springsteen giving a keynote address and playing “secret” shows around town, and every imaginable musical experience in between."

There are many reasons to immerse in a unique, massive cultural event like “South by.” Primary among them is to think about theology in engagement and action with the diverse worlds where we actually live and minister. Part of the Brehm Center’s vision, and Fuller’s mission, is to equip people to connect the church and the world in vibrant and meaningful ways, to have missional impact. Our commitment to academic excellence is best evidenced when it results in transformative ministry in the real world.

It’s valuable to read about music theory or dissect popular songs in classroom environments, to determine our opinions about the worth and value of music relative to theology and faith in a seminary coffee shop: it’s quite another to engage music where it lives by taking our theological perspectives and letting them interact with performers and their audiences on the streets of a city. At SXSW, we hear music producers, songwriters, performers, artists, and music business people talk about the challenges and meaning of music-making, and we have access to discuss that with them and with each other.

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Brehm Center Artist-in-Residence Barry Taylor and Program Director Nate Risdon lead Fuller students in intimate conversation groups throughout the festival, drawing on years in the music industry and experience with SXSW.