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TENWEST Festival: Video Preview & Highlights

by Eric Swedlund


The TENWEST Festival is what you make of it, with dozens of seminars, workshops and other events that highlight culture, innovation and entrepreneurship in Tucson.

The event began in 2015 and expanded this year, organized under four areas, or paths: arts, communities, technology and entrepreneurship. The overall goal is to create and keep great ideas in Tucson, whether those ideas come from computer programmers, entrepreneurs, artists or anyone who has a positive vision that can help improve the city, culturally or economically.

Here are some of the highlights of the eight-day event, which begins Friday.

  • Tucson Improv Movement Comedy, featuring Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Friday, Oct. 21, 9 p.m., 329 E. Seventh St.

The comedy theater’s popular SoapBox show brings Tucson’s mayor for a special TENWEST presentation.

  • Dusk Music Festival, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2 p.m., Rillito Park, 4502 N. First Ave.

The inaugural Dusk Music Festival is a TENWEST partner, with a discounted combo pass available. TENWEST will be on hand with the Technology Pavilion, featuring interactive digital installations, Tesla cars, virtual reality gear and more. Festival performers include Matt and Kim, RL Grime, A-Trak, DJ Mustard, Danny Brown, Calexico, Wild Belle, Luna Aura and Gaby Moreno.

  • Myths of Creativity and New Ways to Approach Creative Thinking, Monday, Oct. 24, 2 p.m., UA Downtown Campus, 44 N. Stone Ave.

The Drawing Studio Executive Director Stephanie Balzer and Creative Catalyst founder Carrie Seid discuss (and debunk!) the notion that creativity is doled out in a “fixed sum.” This is a hands-on workshop where participants will discover how creative thinking and new research can improve their careers, health and happiness, as well as learn strategies for strengthening creative thought.

  • A Community Committed to Space, Monday, Oct. 24, 5 p.m. Pennington Street stage.

From pioneering work at the University of Arizona to large-scale commercial space travel operations, Tucson is a national hub for space exploration and is expanding both commercially and academically. Hear insights from Chuck Huckelberry, Pima County Administrator and visionary behind the Tucson Space Port; Members of the OSIRIS-Rex, the spacecraft launch destined for the asteroid Bennu; and representatives from World View Enterprises and Vector Space Systems. Sponsored by the Arizona Tech Council.

  • Explorations in Food: Tucson as a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 4:30 p.m., Pennington Street stage.

To celebrate the city’s recent designation as the United States’ first UNESCO World City of Gastronomy, TENWEST features a discussion on the Tucson Food Culture with Chef Janos Wilder of Downtown Kitchen & Cocktails, Jonathan Mabry of City of Tucson Historic Preservation, Megan Kimble of Edible Baja, and more. Sponsored by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber.

  • The Artistic Economy, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 4:30 p.m., Pennington Street stage.

What does the artisan and creative economy look like in Tucson? Who comprises and what are the contributing networks to a region that is known for its artistic vitality and innovation? Panelists include Don Guerra, owner/baker of Barrio Bread; Erika Mitnik-White, Southern Arizona Director for Local First Arizona; Quinlan Wilhite of QMULATIVE; CULTIVATE Tucson and Creative Tribe Workshop.

  • 1055 Ways Your Customers Will Fund You, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2 p.m., TEP, 88 E. Broadway, room 250.

Chris Squires, co-founder and General Manager of Ten 55 Brewing, will discuss innovative business funding, from the idea phase through launching a campaign. Founded in 2013, Ten 55 is the first company to utilize new legislation in AZ that allows small companies to raise capital through local investors.

  • IdeaFunding, Thursday, Oct. 27, 11 a.m. (all day event), TEP, 88 E. Broadway.

Every October in Tucson, IdeaFunding brings together the best of the southwestern startup ecosystem for a full day of pitch competitions, panels, discussions, speakers and networking around best practices, key lessons and next steps to launch a company. Get Started Tucson, formerly the IdeaFunding Bracket Challenge, will highlight up to eight entrepreneurs who will pitch their idea to a distinguished panel of experts for the chance to win a prize package valued at over $50,000.

  • TEDx Tucson Salon, Desert Vibe: Exploring the Tucson Sound, Friday, Oct. 28, 6 p.m., Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St.

This celebration and discussion of Tucson’s vibrant musical culture brings together musicians Howe Gelb, Roger Clyne, John Coinman and Drew Cooper, to share their stories, their music and their relationship with the desert as we explore the “Tucson sound” together. Hosted by Grammy-nominated musician Linda Chorney.

  • Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Friday, Oct. 28, 8:30 p.m. Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St.

The TENWEST Festival closing concert features Tucson-born Roger Clyne, who has blazed an independent trail with his band for more than 15 years.

Festival Passes are $35 for the entire week. Certain events require additional fees for entry. For a full schedule and complete information, visit