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New festival of literature, music and ideas could be ‘Tulsa version of South by Southwest,’ organizer says | Local News

The University of Tulsa next spring will host an inaugural event, in conjunction with the World of Bob Dylan, involving some of the world’s most innovative writers, thinkers and artists.

On Thursday, TU officials announced plans for Switchyard, set for May 30 to June 4, 2023, a national festival of literature, music and ideas expected to be “something like a distinctively Tulsa version of South by Southwest.”

In addition to more than 35 live music performances, the event promises a literary festival, keynote sessions and lively panel discussions at venues downtown.

“From Council Oak through the oil boom to Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa has always been a vital meeting point,” organizer Sean Latham said in a statement. “Switchyard will invite people to cross the tracks that once carved this city in two in order to explore our complicated histories, seek new points of connection and explore the transformative power of art, ideas and music.”

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Bands and keynote speakers will be announced in the coming months, organizers said Thursday.

Participants at Switchyard can follow “tracks” such as banned books and outrageous ideas, the transformative power of music, and Oklahoma’s Indigenous arts and histories.

Organizers plan to devote most of June 1, the anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, to events focusing on recovery efforts and building a more inclusive future, according to a news release.

Latham, director of TU’s Institute for Bob Dylan Studies, said the idea for Switchyard took shape not long after the 2019 World of Dylan event. It sold out two months in advance with 500 attendees, the release said.

“It was clear we had an opportunity to grow this into something even bigger and, as we return to in-person programming, our aim is to create a unique occurrence — maybe something like a distinctively Tulsa version of South by Southwest,” said Latham , who also serves as director of the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities.

Ticket options, with early-bird pricing available Oct. 1, include single-event admission, music festival and full-event passes.

Go to or search @switchyardtulsa on social media for more information.

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