We Need Third Coast Campaign


Help Third Coast Raise $50,000 By July 2024!

Help re-launch the independent Third Coast Competition

Third Coast has weathered a number of challenges over the past few years. But learning late last year that the 23-year financial supporter of Third Coast's competition ended its funding has been the biggest one yet. Now, Third Coast is calling on the community’s help — your help — to kickstart a year-long fundraising effort to increase financial investment at every level of our organization. This is our first step toward building investment in Third Coast as a community-centered institution.

“We Need Third Coast” is a call to raise $50,000, in order to re-launch the independent Third Coast Call for Entries & Competition this July. All the while, we’ll tell stories from Third Coast — you’ll hear directly from makers impacted by this organization, sharing experiences critical to the audio industry.

We also know that this moment in the audio industry is a challenging one for everyone. That’s why Third Coast is offering free ad-hoc Audio Doctor Office Hours, inspired by a long-time program from the Third Coast Conference, to give individual makers the opportunity to meet one-on-one with veteran makers to connect over the craft and discuss current projects (These will be first-come, first-serve, and available through our newsletter.)

What Makes Third Coast’s Competition Unique?

More than ever, the audio industry needs an independent audio competition that celebrates the diversity of work being made in the medium, disrupts hierarchies, honors innovation of the craft, and creates opportunities for makers at every level of their career. Third Coast’s Competition program prioritizes people and craft over profit, expands access and increases equity in the field, and pushes the boundaries of audio storytelling through experimentation and community.

Since 2020, Third Coast’s Competition has grown every year, adding two new categories, broadening eligibility to include work in all languages across all categories, naming nearly 100 Third Coast Finalists, expanding the Third Coast Listening Team and Final Round Judging program, adding new Pilot Offerings, and more. And over the last four years, Third Coast has committed to a collective pricing initiative, a sliding-scale pricing initiative for our Competition (and all programs) to ensure that our Competition is accessible to anyone who wants to enter.

Third Coast Is Still A Destination

You may be wondering: What is the current vision for Third Coast? What kind of programming are you building?

For many years, Third Coast was a place-based organization. Between the Third Coast Conference, “The Fest” and the annual Awards Ceremony for the Third Coast/RHDF Competition, people would often quip that these events made Chicago “the center of the audio universe” for one weekend each year.

But that model also required makers to spend thousands of dollars in travel, food, lodging, and programming costs in Chicago each year. For an international festival that prided itself on inviting in makers at any stage of their careers, from all over the world, the high cost to attend had become an overwhelming challenge for many.

Then, 2020 irrevocably changed our world. And it also changed Third Coast.

We want to change the ways that you can arrive at Third Coast, but not the fact that Third Coast is still a destination for audio communities around the world. Whatever form it takes, whether it be in-person (like the 2023 Summer Programming Series) or virtual (like the Competition Showcase, or Third Place) or a hybrid of both, the organization’s goal is to create spaces where makers feel empowered to center experimentation, community, and craft — not the whims of moneyed players in the industry. Third Coast strives to make programming broadly accessible for everyone to convene around the art and craft of audio.

And that starts with relaunching the Third Coast Competition as an independent program. It’s our belief that a community-powered program has the power to catalyze change in our industry.

A Call to Partners

Throughout this year, Third Coast will be fundraising to strengthen programs that speak to our audiences. The “We Need Third Coast Campaign is just one piece of the puzzle: the organization is also looking for institutional partners. Are you interested in learning more about supporting Third Coast through an annual sponsorship or corporate gifting program? Please reach out directly: info@thirdcoastfestival.org.

Why #WeNeedThirdCoast

We’ll be using #WeNeedThirdCoast across our newsletter and social media to share stories from makers in our community who believe in the transformative power of Third Coast’s work and to share updates from the campaign — and we want you to use the hashtag, too! We invite you to share your stories of what makes Third Coast and our Competition meaningful to you, and why we need spaces for audio community, inspiration, and experimentation. #WeNeedThirdCoast

Thank you to our Illustrators

The We Need Third Coast Campaign was conceptualized by the team at Third Coast with illustration by Andrea Miralles (@andreamirallesart) and design by Clara May. Special thanks to Lille Allen.