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Arts Eclectic turns the spotlight on happenings in the arts and culture scene in and around the Austin area. Through interviews with local musicians, dancers, singers, and artists, Arts Eclectic aims to bring locals to the forefront and highlight community cultural events.Support for Arts Eclectic comes from Broadway Bank.

'How do we stay weird?': OUTsider Fest celebrates 10 years by remaining true to themselves

“One of the things that I always say in relationship to OUTsiders is that my intention was never to make it bigger and better, but to continually make it smaller and more intimate,” says Curran Nault, the co-artistic director of the long running LGBTQ+ transmedia arts festival. “I think what makes OUTsider special is not just the amazing artists that we bring, but the space that we create where people really feel like a connected community. It's tight knit, it's smaller.”

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, Austin’s OUTsider Festival has never tried to become the biggest fest in town; instead its creators have worked to keep the yearly event intimate and comfortable. “At the same time,” Nault says, “[We’re] always welcoming new artists and new audiences into that fold. It's quite easy for people to be folded in and feel seen and feel connected.”

With a milestone anniversary comes no small amount of celebration, but also some reflection. “It is our 10th anniversary, which has been super exciting to have a really great reason to reflect on all of the things that have gotten OUTsider where it is,” says Molly Routt, vice-president of the OUTsider board. “And as an organization [we’re doing] a lot of reflecting about where are we going to go in the next 10 years?”

What does the next 10 years look like is the question at this moment,” Nault agrees. “How do we stay outside? How do we stay weird and out of the box? And that, I think, means re-envisioning and not being stuck in our ways. And I think we're all committed to that.”

As OUTsider turns 10, they’re reflecting not just on their own history but on their connection with Austin. “Every year we do a legacy award where we honor some kind of queer arts path breaker who we want to kind of pay our respects to,” Nault says. “And for the past nine years, that has always been an artist outside of Austin. And so for the 10 year anniversary, we wanted to bring this home and really celebrate the people… that have been the space makers that have opened the door for something like OUTsider and so much else in Austin. And so this year for our legacy award, we're honoring four of those space makers. One is Priscilla Hale from allgo, which is the Texas queer of-color organization. We're honoring Sandra Martinez, who has had her hand in all sorts of different organizations in Austin, including Chances, which is a beloved queer bar from the past. She was also part of Project Transitions and aGLIFF here in town. Thirdly, Chale Nafus, who is kind of a cornerstone of the film community here in Austin. He started the film department at ACC. He also was one of the founders and longtime programmers at AFS. And last but not least, Susan Post, who's been running BookWoman — which is the local feminist queer bookstore — since the 1970s. So we're honoring those four people with a kind of cavalcade of younger generational queerdos paying their respects to the spaces that those elders have created for us.”

“I am really, really looking forward to celebrating this year,” says Routt. “You know, every OUTsider, there's celebration and joy, and this year just feels extra, extra special because of this big milestone. And I can already tell, even in the design that has been built, the program curation, there's just like a little extra buzz of excitement and that is giving me a lot of life.”

OUTsider Fest 2024 runs February 15 - 18 at the VORTEX.

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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