Third Coast International Audio Festival

Third Coast International Audio Festival, or Third Coast, has served an ever-growing global community of storytellers and makers since 2000. An independent nonprofit arts organization based in Chicago, we center people and community first in our advocacy for the medium of audio as an art form. Through our work, we seek to push at the boundaries of the audio industry and support the creators who build our world in sound.

Who We Are: Values

We believe Third Coast thrives when it is urgently responding to the audio community’s needs and building unique spaces unlike any other in the industry.

We see Third Coast's work as critical to the future of the audio industry, and strive to bring experimentation & inspiration, critical conversation, and generous connectivity into all of our programming. We want to ensure that the particular magic of connection isn’t lost as the industry grows. Our work, no matter what shape it takes, is in service of this mission. We believe each of our programs should follow from our values, and not the other way around.

Year after year, we reflect deeply, collect feedback, and open discourse around what kind of Third Coast programming best serves these values. In 2022, this looks like…

  • Challenging traditions, nourishing evolutions, valuing experimentation, and de-centering the status quo;
  • Supporting un-bounded artistry, imagination, and visionary craft as key to advancing the audio field;
  • Advocating for a maker-first approach — not job-first approach — to how we think and talk about making;
  • Prioritizing accountability, feedback, and transparency in all of our relationships;
  • Centering audio makers at all levels of our organization; and
  • Maintaining an independent Third Coast to pass on to future generations of staff, so that they too can forefront critical values of their own.

Below is a list of approaches that we’re prioritizing in 2022, rooted in our values. We offer these with the acknowledgment that we are also constantly evolving in dialogue with our community. To read more about our current and upcoming programmatic offerings, visit Third Coast in 2022.

Who We Are: Approaches

Field Building

We believe that field building is critical to the audio industry, and that it paves the way for the most powerful possibilities for audio as an art form.

What does field building mean to us? Our goal is to advance the audio industry by giving opportunity, attention, and space for connection to the people who make the work and by centering people and craft over profit and status. Given the explosion and growth of the audio industry over the last 10 years, we ask the question: What do people from the audio community need most urgently right now, and how can we provide that?

This is how we build all of our programming at Third Coast: to ensure that the diverse communities of people building our world in sound are at the heart and soul of all of the work we do. We believe that creating new infrastructure, resources, and opportunities around field building in audio has the potential to change the future of the industry.

Connectivity & Access

We want everyone, everywhere, to have access to Third Coast’s programming.

We believe that the best way to connect, and to make our programming accessible right now, is to not convene in person — the world is not currently equipped to the kind of safe and transformative, large-scale, in-person industry convening that we hope to one day have.

Instead, we are excited to capture the energy, power and urgency of Third Coast’s programs through internationally-accessible, financially affordable virtual-first programs. We are also thrilled to announce that we will be hosting a year-round slate of programs, so that audiences from around the world can more consistently connect in a unique, vibrant Third Coast space.

Era of Experimentation

We are all about experimentation in 2022 and 2023; in fact, we’re informally calling this year-round slate of programming the “Era of Experimentation.”

We chose this theme for our year-round programming for two reasons: First, the world we live in now demands experimentation; and second, experimentation is a core value at Third Coast that makes us unique to the contemporary audio landscape.

Industry As Collective

This generation of Third Coast believes that radical accessibility is key to increasing equity in the audio industry.

For this reason, we want to ensure anyone who wants to participate in our programming can, regardless of how much they can pay. This is why we’ve introduced Collective Pricing, a community-centered sliding scale fee, which we will continue to evolve in 2022.

Intentional Rebuilding

In 2022, we are still rebuilding from an unprecedented time of pandemic.

Over the last two years, we've done everything possible to stay afloat and remain an independent organization. Thanks to the support of our Board of Directors, Co-Executive Directors Emily Kennedy & Maya Goldberg-Safir are now in the process of implementing a plan to not only to rebuild Third Coast's capacity in the wake of the pandemic, but to overall strengthen Third Coast’s programming, vision, and fundraising.

Even though we have a reduced staff right now, we intend to rebuild over the course of 2022 – with a focus on bringing on new core staff members, and to work toward building up our Third Coast offerings to full capacity.

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