“A Day of Culture, Connections, and Creativity”

John Spong, formerly of Texas Monthly, calls the Wittliff Collections “the world’s finest repository of Southwestern writing, photography, and culture.”


The Wittliff Collection, the renowned literary archive at Texas State University, will put on its inaugural Wittliff Collections Festival on April 18, 2020.


Termed “a fundraising celebration of Texas arts” by Austin 360, the festival will be held at the W Hotel in Austin. There will be panels of writers, photographers, filmmakers, and singer-songwriters, for which seating is limited to sponsors and their guests.


The day of panels will be followed by a red-carpet gala at Austin City Limits Live with acoustic performances by Ray Benson and Robert Earl Keen. In addition to Benson and Keen, the gala will include an auction with rare items from the “Lonesome Dove” miniseries. A limited number of gala tables beginning at the $25,000 level and VIP corporate sponsorships beginning at $15,000 are still available. Individual tickets are available for $1,000 each.


The event will also honor the legacy of screenwriter, filmmaker, photographer, and writer Bill Wittliff, who along with his wife established the archive at Texas State University in 1986. Wittliff died earlier this year at the age of 79. According to a news release, all proceeds from the festival will be used to acquire collections for the archive.  

Panels for the Wittliff Collections Festival include:


• “The Writer’s Voice” with moderator John Spong, featuring writers Sarah Bird, Elizabeth Crook, Stephen Harrigan, and Lawrence Wright.

• “The Photographer’s Voice” with moderator David L. Coleman, featuring photographers Graciela Iturbide, Kate Breakey, Keith Carter, and Connie Todd.

• “The Filmmaker’s Voice: Behind the Scenes with Lonesome Dove,” featuring Emmy-winning costume designer Van Broughton Ramsey, Emmy-nominated set designer Cary White, and property master Eric A. Williams, as well as actor Barry Tubb, who portrayed Jasper Fant.

• “The Singer/Songwriter’s Voice” with moderator Joe Nick Patoski, featuring artists Terri Hendrix, Flaco Jimenez, Barbara Lynn, and Max Baca.


The Wittliff Collections comprise a research archive, exhibition gallery, and special collections library established in 1986 as a partnership between Texas State University, the Albert B. Alkek Library, and founding donors Sally and Bill Wittliff. Their mission is to collect, preserve, and share the creative legacy of the Southwest and to foster the region’s inimitable “Spirit of Place” in the wider world.


What began thirty-three years ago with the personal papers of author and folklorist J. Frank Dobie has grown to include more than five hundred prized collections in Southwestern literature, Southwestern and Mexican photography, and Texas music. Plans are underway to launch a fourth collecting pillar devoted to film and television.