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Wittliff Collections Festival Re-scheduled


The Wittliff Collections Festival, a day of culture, connections and creativity celebrating the unbridled imagination of Texas and the Southwest, will honor the legacy and vision of the late Bill Wittliff; event to feature panel discussions with acclaimed artists and a star-studded gala with legendary Texas musician Ray Benson    

(AUSTIN, TEXAS – May 28, 2020, source: Juice Consulting) – The Wittliff Collections, the internationally acclaimed collection of Southwest writing, photography, film and music at Texas State University, announces the new date for The Wittliff Collections Festival, a celebration of the unbridled imagination of Texas, Mexico and the Southwest. This inaugural event will now take place Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, and will feature a full day of panels at the W Austin Hotel as originally planned, with writers, photographers, filmmakers and singer/songwriters, followed by a star-studded gala at ACL Live at the Moody Theater (310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd, Austin, Texas 78701) showcasing an intimate performance by musical legend Ray Benson and a special surprise guest, to be announced. Due to popular demand, The Wittliff Collections have opened up additional gala seating on the mezzanine level, and will also host an after-party music event with public seating on the balcony level. All proceeds from the festival will be used to acquire important collections that preserve the culture of the Southwest. For more information on The Wittliff Collections Festival, see here or call 512-825-5632.

“Texas State University will play a starring role in The Wittliff Collections Festival,” said Dr. David Coleman, director of The Wittliff Collections. “Through this high-profile event, the university will help raise awareness of the importance of preserving the cultural heritage of the Southwest while raising private support for new acquisitions.”

“Everyone involved, from our sponsors and guests to our panelists, is very supportive of the new festival date," said Ramona Kelly, senior director of development for The Wittliff Collections. "Tickets are available beginning at the $500 level. We look forward to hosting an unforgettable event that honors Bill's legacy while raising much-needed support to continue fulfilling the vision he and his wife, Sally, brought to Texas State nearly 35 years ago.”

The Wittliff Collections are a cultural treasure comprising a world-class research archive, exhibition gallery, and special collections library established at Texas State University in 1986 by acclaimed screenwriter and filmmaker Bill Wittliff and his wife Sally . The Festival will honor the late Bill Wittliff, who passed away on June 9, 2019, by celebrating his vision and creative spirit. All proceeds from the festival will be used to acquire important collections that preserve the culture of the Southwest. 

2020 marks the 50th anniversary year of Ray Benson and his band Asleep at the Wheel, and attendees of The Wittliff Collections Festival will be able to celebrate with Ray with a special performance as he winds up his 50th anniversary tour. The Wittliff Collections will also celebrate Ray and Asleep at the Wheel with an exhibition devoted to his career in the brand new Texas Music Gallery, opening this fall.

Panels for The Wittliff Collections Festival will be held at the W Austin Hotel (200 Lavaca St., Austin, Texas 78701) from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Public seating will be released ten minutes prior to the start of each panel, and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. These panels will include “The Writer’s Voice” with moderator John Spong, featuring renowned writers Sarah Bird, Elizabeth Crook, Stephen Harrigan and Lawrence Wright; “The Photographer’s Voice” with moderator David L. Coleman, featuring Kate Breakey, a visual artist known for her large-scale, hand-colored photographs, Keith Carter, an internationally respected photographer, author and educator, Michael O’Brien, a premier portrait photographer known for his candid, unapologetic style, and Kathy Vargas, an internationally praised photographer known for her composite hand-colored photographs; “The Filmmaker’s Voice: Behind the Scenes with Lonesome Dove,” featuring actor Barry Tubb, who portrayed Jasper Fant in Lonesome Dove, Emmy®-winning costume designer Van Broughton Ramsey, Emmy®-nominated set designer Cary White and property master Eric A. Williams, all of whom played a central role in the authenticity of the Lonesome Dove miniseries; and “The Singer/Songwriter’s Voice” with moderator Joe Nick Patoski, featuring artists Max Baca, Terri Hendrix, Flaco Jimenez and Barbara Lynn.

“Every great culture is made great in part by the contributions of its writers and artists, but that’s not enough,” said panelist Lawrence Wright. “It also requires great institutions to support those creative efforts and make them available to students, scholars and the general public, and that’s exactly what The Wittliff Collections do. They are part of the foundation of the creative arts of the Southwest and a repository for the future, and we’re grateful for its existence.”

“Bill and Sally had an amazing dream to create a place that would preserve and celebrate the ‘Spirit of Place’ that is unique to Texas and the Southwest,” said Coleman. “The Wittliff Collections Festival will be a special time for us to celebrate that dream and to pay tribute to Bill. For more than three decades, he ‘rode point’ toward our next big project or acquisition, and because of his profound inspiration, we know exactly where we’re headed: toward a future of growth, of promise and the fulfillment of the Wittliff’s vision for a world-class research archive, exhibition gallery and library.”

What began with the papers of Texas folklorist J. Frank Dobie has grown into a cultural touchstone with more than 500 prized collections in Southwestern literature, Southwestern and Mexican photography and Texas music. Holdings include the papers of writers Sam Shepard, Cormac McCarthy, Sandra Cisneros, Mary Karr, Stephen Harrigan and Lawrence Wright, as well as the entire Texas Monthly magazine archive and the King of the Hill collection; the largest collection of Mexican photography outside of Mexico; a burgeoning collection of Texas music including Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ray Benson, Marcia Ball, and Cindy Walker; and the Lonesome Dove production archive. Plans are underway to add film and television to The Wittliff’s vast trove of primary source material.

For information on attending the Festival and sponsorship opportunities, email here.         


Texas State’s 38,231 students choose from 98 bachelor’s, 91 master’s and 14 doctoral degree programs offered by the following colleges: Applied Arts, McCoy College of Business Administration, Education, Fine Arts and Communication, Health Professions, Liberal Arts, Science and Engineering, University College, and The Graduate College. As an Emerging Research University, Texas State offers opportunities for discovery and innovation to faculty and students. Students come from around the globe, and the student body is diverse with 55.6 percent of Texas State students identifying as ethnic minorities. Texas State ranks 12th in the nation for total bachelor’s degrees awarded to Hispanic students.


The Wittliff Collections comprise an internationally known research archive, exhibition gallery, and special collections library established in 1986 as a partnership between Texas State University and founding donors Sally and Bill Wittliff. The Wittliff Collections are dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing the creative legacy of the Southwest’s literary, photographic and musical arts, and to fostering the region’s “Spirit of Place” in the wider world. The Wittliff is located on the Texas State University campus in San Marcos. The Wittliff presents major exhibitions year-round; hosts readings, artist talks, lectures and other events; publishes significant books from its holdings; and makes its collections available to researchers from around the world. The Wittliff welcomes visitors, tours and classes. Admission is always free. For more on The Wittliff Collections, see here. 


For general press inquiries on The Wittliff Collections, or for press RSVPs to The Wittliff Collections Festival, please contact:

Heather Wagner Reed
713 208 3891

Tyler Ostby
210 854 9119