On May 1 — an eternity ago in public health crisis time — we announced that this year’s Texas Tribune Festival would be online. Going digital with our signature in-person event was a tough decision and the right one, as it both acknowledged reality (“the inability to predict an end to the pandemic and a return to something that resembles normal”) and gave us the opportunity to build something innovative. I’m happy to report that plans for virtual TribFest are coming together nicely.
If you’re a TribFest regular, our 2020 iteration will feel familiar. You’ll find the mix of marquee names from politics, policy and the media you’ve come to expect from us. And we will realize the same ambitious goal of raising everyone’s awareness and understanding of the issues and elections that affect us and our communities.
The biggest change is that TribFest will take place over the entire month of September. Each of our previous festivals has featured a wide range of programming during a single, intense weekend. What we know about virtual events — and the reality of living and working through a pandemic — is that a highly curated selection delivered flexibly is a better experience for everyone. So we’re flattening the curve, to borrow a phrase. We’ll kick off this year’s fest Sept. 1 and close it out Sept. 30, with programs presented every day in between.
Those programs will vary. Some will be live, and others you can watch whenever you want. We’ll be exploring innovative video and audio formats, too. Best of all, we’re keeping the spirit of our Open Congress fest-within-a-fest and making some of this exceptional range of programming available to everyone for free.
Some of our sessions will have a national and international focus. Some will be state and local. We’ll have one-one-one interviews, modified panel discussions, podcasts, presentations and more than a few surprises. We’ll have an array of media and other partners in curating and distributing everything we produce.
The unifying element will be the theme: how the coronavirus has changed us and our world. We’ll look at the fall elections, the coming legislative session, education, the economy, health care, criminal justice, redistricting and more through that lens.
We’re honored to share the first batch of confirmed participants in our 2020 fest:
Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS Newshour; Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for The New York Times; former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro; Pamela Colloff, senior reporter at ProPublica and staff writer at The New York Times Magazine; U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston; Wendy Davis, Democratic candidate for Texas’ 21st Congressional District; former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso; Susan Glasser, staff writer at The New Yorker; Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar; Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo; former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine; state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, chair of the House Public Education Committee; Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson; Renu Khator, chancellor of the University of Houston System; Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath; former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso; Samantha Power, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price; state Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, chair of the House Calendars Committee; Cecile Richards, co-founder of Supermajority; U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Austin; former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Look out for additions to our speaker list every two weeks, and subscribe to our email updates so you never miss a thing.
Another big change: Early-bird tickets for our 2020 festival are $99 — our best introductory rate ever. We’re going to sell a limited number of these, at which point we’ll raise the price for Tribune members and raise it a bit more for nonmembers. And we’ll be rolling out discounted pricing, as always, for students and educators.
Get your tickets today here. We can’t wait to “see” you in September!
Disclosure: The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and the University of Houston have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.