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.


A Note from the Third Coast Team

Hi there,

Thanks for visiting this page to find out more about our Collective Pricing Model. Before you dive in, we hope that you might take a second to support our We Need Third Coast Campaign (#WeNeedThirdCoast) for our annual Competition — made by makers, for makers!

We are working to raise $50,000 in order to re-launch Third Coast’s Competition as an independent program by July 2024. To learn more, and make a donation, click here.

Thanks for reading,
The team at Third Coast


Who We Are: Values

We believe that 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. Today, 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 a job-first approach — to how we think and talk about a maker’s identity:
  • Prioritizing accountability, feedback, and transparency in 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, rooted in our values, that we’re currently prioritizing through our programming. We offer these with the acknowledgment that we are also constantly evolving in dialogue with our community, and the way that we express these values will adapt to meet their needs.


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 regularly engage with the question: What do people from the audio community need most urgently right now, and how can we provide that?

This is how we create 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 the creation of 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 not to prioritize large-scale in-person convenings just yet — both the world and our organization are not not currently equipped for the kinds of safe and transformative, in-person industry convenings 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 be building towards a slate of year--round programs, so that audiences from around the world can more consistently connect in a unique, vibrant Third Coast space.

Industry As Collective

Third Coast believes that prioritizing 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 2023.

Intentional Rebuilding

We are still rebuilding from an unprecedented time in Third Coast’s history.

We are proud to 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 strengthen Third Coast’s overall vision as a preeminent field building organization in audio.