OUTsider Festival Aims To Stay Small While Thinking Big

Feb 14, 2020

Now in its sixth year, Austin’s OUTsider Festival is one of those rare yearly fests that’s purposefully trying not to become bigger every year. Curran Nault, the creator and artistic director of the LGBTQ+ arts festival, says that staying small and intimate is central to the mission of OUTsider. “One of our intents is actually always to, in some ways, not get bigger. To kind of stay super-intimate,” Nault says. “Because one of the things that OUTsider, I think, does really well is creating a sense of intimacy between the audience and the artist.”

The festival has long celebrated art of all kinds, rather than focusing on just one discipline. “We use the word transmedia to describe it,” Nault says. “Because it’s crossing boundaries in terms of artforms and disciplines and media forms. There’s dance, there’s music, there’s performance art, there’s visual art, there’s film. And often times those things are being combined – maybe all those things I just mentioned – in one single performance.”

Nault has always wanted the OUTsider festival to create a sense of family and community for festival-goers and he’s been happy to see that happen, with many people coming back year after year.  “We have a really dedicated core audience,” he says. “But I’m also happy to say that we’re always bringing new people in and in fact have become a destination festival – each yeaar we have more and more people coming from outside of the U.S. and [from] all over the U.S.”

The intimate nature of the OUTsider fest (the yearly conference still takes place on a couch in Nault’s house rather than in a conference room somewhere) allows for much more interaction between artists and festival-goers. “We create a lot of opportunities for people to get to know each other,” Nault says. “To experience the art, but then to hang out, create stuff together, listen to ideas together, and have an experience that is driven by art and creativity but is also about getting know one another and connecting on a deeper level.”

OUTsider Festival 2020 is February 19 - 23 at the Vortex.