ATX TV Festival co-creators Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson welcomed virtual viewers with a message about the ongoing protests across the country following the death of George Floyd last month.
“Here’s the thing, we are not all together in Austin, and while that is really hard for us to wrap our heads around, our ATX family means the world to us. You’re everything and we’re so grateful you are here with us, even if it happens to be virtually,” McFarland began.
Gipson teared up adding, “This is not a normal festival … a lot has happened this year, this month, yesterday, and I’m sure things will still happen today as well. We’ve made a lot of pivots … and we’ve asked ourselves a lot of really tough questions about why we’re here, should we cancel or postpone? We’ve asked ourselves those same questions many times the last few weeks, even the last 24 hours”
The festival, which normally takes place in Austin, Texas, decided in April to host it virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, the event announced that, amid the ongoing protests following Floyd’s death, the festival would go on and that organizers would lead tough conversations surrounding the current events.
“We made a vow earlier this week to do better and to be better,” McFarland said. “We believe Black Lives Matter. To those in our community and beyond that are hurting and feel unseen, we want to make it clear that we see you and we stand with you.”
She continued, “These past few weeks we have been doing what I think a lot of you have been doing, which is struggling with what to do or say and in not knowing what that was, we started reading, we started researching, and most importantly, we started listening. Many of the conversations we have planned for this weekend are around black voices and stories and we have been fortunate to have been able to sit in on many of those conversations and really hear what they have to say.”
Gipson then said they would use their platform to amplify those voices in any way they can.
“Is there fear that we will do or say the wrong thing? Yes. Have we made some missteps in refocusing our attention to the current moment? Absolutely. But we have never acted or not acted out of fear, and we aren’t going to start now,” Gipson said. “We know it is important to be a place where people can be heard and we are here to listen.”
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