President Obama is peacing out of White House life this November, and as expected, intends to go out in style. It’s just been announced that the lawns of the White House will play host to a festival, which will see student short films, debates and music make up the day’s activities. It’s intended to be a platform of creativity and diversity, with the backdrop of his infamous residency. The headliners of the festival are yet to be released but with Obama’s annual playlists, we can get a rough idea of the potential musical candidates. This year’s release, Summer Sixteen included the likes of Leon Bridges, Chance the Rapper, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Aretha Franklin and The Beach Boys but since Obama has also partied with Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar, the line up is destined to be star studded.
However, the festival is not just limited to musical performances, South by South Lawn (SXSL) is expanding its horizons and aims to be a festival of ideas, art and action based on the formula of the southern festival South By South West. To achieve this multi-dimensional event, the White House’s website calls for young creators, organisers and innovators to come together to create an event filled with panel discussions, student film screenings and emerging and established musical performances. To get in with the chance to attend this undoubtedly incredible festival, they’re currently taking nominations for creators and innovators who are making change in their communities.
Obama isn’t the first to use his rather impressive residency to host a festival. British aristocracy frequently use their stately homes for music festivals (Rock Oyster Fest, Vintage, etc.) which is not surprising considering the first music festival was 1956 hosted by Lord Montagu at Beaulieu House. It must be admitted though, a presidential festival is pretty rare. The event itself, is not just a celebration of Obama’s awesome leadership stint, rather it also aims to celebrate the progress made towards an America that is more tolerant, fair, and full of opportunity; something of which those in the running for the next White house tenancy should take note. Whether or not you consider this event as an original, economical or suitable final act, President Barak Obama has once again proven his title as the coolest politician of our lifetimes.