SXSW London reveals key hires ahead of 2025 launch event

SXSW London reveals key hires ahead of 2025 launch event

SXSW London has recruited Elliot Willis, Adem Holness and Katy Arnander to its full-time executive team. 

Alex Poots will serve as creative advisor while continuing his work full-time at The Shed in New York.

Building on the success of SXSW in Austin, Texas and the 2023 launch of the Pan-Pacific edition in Sydney, SXSW London will take place in June 2025 at venues and spaces around Shoreditch in East London. It will feature keynotes, music showcases, tech, gaming and entertainment, with a particular focus on creative sectors and talent from across Europe.

Katy Arnander has been appointed director of programming. Arnander has previously worked at some performance organisations including Ambassadors Theatre Group (ATG), Sadler's Wells, Southbank Centre and the Barbican, focusing on arts programming, show production, commissioning, curation and audiences.

Adem Holness has joined SXSW London as head of music following a spell at the Southbank Centre. During his role as head of contemporary music, he curated and oversaw the delivery of 150-plus music events including the Meltdown Festival, Stormzy's Live from Queen Elizabeth Hall and Honey Dijon's Honey Verse. In his new role, Holness will lead the music programming team and oversee music partnerships and curation of events within the music industry.

On the commercial side, Elliot Willis has joined the SXSW London team as the European commercial director. He will be responsible for driving the sponsorship, partnership, sales and commercial operation of the festival in London.

Arts and cultural leader Alex Poots has been named as Creative Advisor. Poots’ career in the arts include his current position as the founding artistic director of The Shed in New York City, where he continues his full-time role while providing support to SXSW London. He was also the founding artistic director & chief executive of the Manchester International Festival (2005-2015) and the artistic director of the Park Avenue Armory (2011-2015).

Our goal is to create a London edition of SXSW that bottles the essence of UK-based creativity and innovation

Randel Bryan

Randel Bryan, SXSW London managing director, said: “Our goal is to create a London edition of SXSW that bottles the essence of UK-based creativity and innovation through working with some of the best in the business. I’m delighted to have Elliot, Adem and Katy joining the team on the ground along with Alex to shape the inaugural year.”

Elliot Willis, European commercial director at SXSW London, said: “This is a fascinating time for the cultural scene within Europe and especially within the UK. I am excited to bring the festival to the European stage. London is a hub of innovation and culture making it the perfect location to host the SXSW debut in Europe. I am looking forward to creating meaningful partnerships between brands to showcase this hot house of innovation.”

Katy Arnander, director of Programming at SXSW London, said: “I am excited to embark on a new journey with SXSW and work towards growing the UK's thriving cultural market. SXSW London is set to be Europe's greatest festival focusing on tech, music and art. This is an amazing moment of growth for the city, and I am grateful to be at the heart of it.”

Adem Holness, incoming head of music at SXSW London, said: “I have loved my time at Southbank Centre which has given me the space and the opportunity to create some truly memorable experiences with artists and audiences. I feel very proud to have helped so many people make fun and bold moments that they couldn’t have done anywhere else. So it is bittersweet to leave, but when the opportunity to curate music for the inaugural SXSW London came up, I just couldn’t say no. As a born and bred Londoner, I can’t wait to get started and continue to support our grassroots music artists and creatives to keep pushing London’s cultural landscape forward."

Alex Poots, creative advisor at SXSW London, added: “SXSW London is an exciting opportunity to showcase some of the most innovative talent across the arts, music and tech scenes from London, Europe and around the world. It’s a real pleasure to support the team to realise this."


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