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Athens Slingshot Festival Plans to Expand

In hopes of expanding after the inaugural festival last year, the Athens Slingshot festival is applying for a $15,000 state economic development grant.

Organizers Eric Marty and Kai Riedl estimated that 500 people attended the music, art and technology festival last March, and they think they can more than double that number next year.

Slingshot was intended as a stopover for people on their way to Austin, TX, for South by Southwest, but attendance was hurt because it was held during the University of Georgia’s spring break. Next year, it’s scheduled for March 21-22, the weekend after SXSW and UGA spring break.

“We want to capitalize on the student population and people being in town,” Riedl said.

Slingshot created 25-30 temporary jobs for musicians, artists, bartenders, social media directors and others, according to Riedl, although he didn’t know the exact economic impact. 

“I do know the clubs had an excellent night… better than they’ve ever had during spring break,” he said.

More jobs could be created if the festival expands, and eventually he’d like it to grow enough to employ a full-time staff.

In the long run, Slingshot is also aimed at making Athens an international destination for technology and the arts.

“We want to draw arts entrepreneurs, tech entrepreneurs, draw them to Athens,” Marty said.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development requires applicants to partner with a local government agency and raise matching funds. Slingshot has already raised $15,000 from UGA and other sources, and the Athens Downtown Development Authority voted today to submit the grant application on Slingshot’s behalf.

“We have, as far as I can tell, a solid chance of getting something like this,” Riedl said.