Back in June, we shared the general plan for virtual TribFest, the digital pivot from our signature in-person ideas weekend, made necessary by the coronavirus. We hinted at a monthlong mix of live and pre-recorded programs, some free and some ticketed, some viewable one-time only and some on demand, mostly video but a good bit of audio — carefully curated interviews and panels, all streamed on your favorite device, exploring the impact of the year’s crises on this fall’s elections, next year’s legislative session, public and higher education, the economy, criminal justice, energy and health care. The specific plan, we said, was a work in progress.
Not anymore. Today we released the bulk of the 2020 Texas Tribune Festival program in glorious detail: more than 100 sessions over those 30 days, more than 250 speakers and enough thought-provoking, news-making discussions to get you through your worst bout of cabin fever.
Every TribFest is the best — you know it’s true because we tell you every year — but this one, our 10th annual, tops them all. Weirdly, it’s because of rather than despite the pandemic. Not having to travel to Austin over a prescribed set of days, it turns out, means saying no to an invitation to participate is nearly impossible. We could shoot for the moon, or maybe for the Zoom, as we built our speaker list.
We corralled the biggest-name and most sought-after thought leaders, influencers and game changers from around the state and the country: Anthony Fauci, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Gloria Steinem, Marco Rubio, Gary Cohn, Eric Holder, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Samantha Power, Arne Duncan, Robert Gates, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ted Cruz, Cecile Richards, Dan Crenshaw, Julián Castro, Jon Meacham, Maggie Haberman, Robert Costa, Ashley Parker, Jake Tapper, Yamiche Alcindor and Willie Nelson, among many others. It’s our strongest-ever lineup in ten years of putting on this event, and we don’t say that lightly.
Beyond that, because of the times we’re living in, the policy-focused conversations — about school reopenings, budget shortfalls, the digital divide, access to health care, barriers to voting, racial inequities and the like — seem more urgent than ever.
This is only the first of a series of announcements about what we have planned. Over the next few weeks more names are coming, and more sessions are coming, and special slates of programming — for VIP ticket holders, members and students — are coming. We’ll soon announce our opening and closing night conversations, along with film screenings we’re finalizing for each weekend of the festival. Of course, we have surprises in store once we’re into September.
We’re grateful as can be to the sponsors who make this outstanding production possible, to the media partners who lend time and talent to help us succeed and amplify the dialogue, and especially to all of you for taking what will be the most comfortable and convenient seat imaginable in our virtual audience.
Tickets remain on sale here, with generous discounts for Texas Tribune members, educators and students. When you spend time with the TribFest schedule, you’ll surely want to get yours today. “See” you in September.