Even more than usual, 2020’s South by Southwest festival and conference will have health as a top-of-mind topic. As the event’s organizers, speakers and attendees weigh the effects of cancellations and public health fears around COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, conversations in and around panels are likely to be dominated by the viral elephant in the room.
Perhaps ironically, that’s in step with a SXSW trend over the last few years to focus more content and events on issues of medicine, sports and fitness and overall wellness. This is an event that has long run morning yoga sessions, as well as a Health and Wellness Expo since 2018.
This year’s expo, which is free and open to the public with registration via Eventbrite, runs 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 14 and 15 at Palmer Events Center. The expo includes more than 150 exhibitors and sessions and workshops on its Wellness Expo Stage, Fitness Stage and conscious conversations area. Expect exhibitors offering samples and demos of CBD products, organic apparel, natural healing services and fitness programs.
Group yoga and meditation events such as Austinite Adriene Mishler’s Yoga With Adriene are also listed on the SXSW schedule.
Sisters of Yoga Global Collective will have a SXSW-themed community yoga event at 11 a.m. March 20 at Empire ATX called Healing the Culture.
In terms of official programming, that’s led by SXSW’s Health & MedTech track running March 13-17 with dozens of panels on topics ranging from reproductive care to fixing the health care industry to addressing the nation’s opioid crisis. The panels are part of SXSW’s interactive track and open to all badgeholders.
There are also meetups for health industry professionals such as the “AI in Healthcare” gathering at 3:30 p.m. March 17 at Room 403 of the JW Marriott.
Outside of Palmer and the Austin Convention Center is an interesting free breakout event that will take place March 13-17, Energizing Health House at Fareground, 111 Congress Ave. Beginning with a 5 p.m. March 13 kickoff happy hour, it will include complimentary breakfast, a Walmart wellness clinic, panels and a daily happy hour at 5 p.m.
Registration for Energizing Health House is free on Eventbrite. The event is also promoting about 30 official health and wellness-related panels on the SXSW schedule that are also part of the Health & MedTech track. Registration and panel information is on the website justice.health.
Startup Colors is hosting a free Healthtech Jeopardy event focusing on health care trends in Europe and Texas at 3:30 p.m. March 14 at Buffalo Billiards.
And if you think you need more fluids than water, Topo Chico and coconut water can provide, IVitamin is hosting a “SXIV Hydration” happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 18 at 515 S. Congress Ave., Suite 104. Attendance is free, but the needles are not, with $99 IV drips for SXSW attendees. Also on hand will be cocktails, small bites and a music lineup that includes Nick Swift, M.D. and the Bids, and Billy King and the Bad Bad Bad.
If what’s really needed is a mental break, SXSW’s lineup of art exhibits and conceptual exhibitions are a good escape from the action. You can find a full list of 2020’s art programs on the SXSW website. This year’s works include “Legacy” by Nancy Baker Cahill, a 360-degree augmented-reality animation about gentrification and climate change in Austin at Brush Square Park, 409 E. Fifth St.; Edvard Munch’s painting “Man and Woman” at the Scandinavian House at 74 Trinity St.; and “ARTECHOUSE: Future Sketches,” a collection of experiential and tech-driven works of art in Room 3 of the Austin Convention Center.