Feds Spending $1.25 Million on ‘Go Viral’ Festival

Latest festival had sessions on climate change and 'fake news'

Almaty, Kazakhstan / Getty Images
• June 19, 2018 5:00 am


The State Department is spending over $1.2 million on a "Go Viral" festival in Kazakhstan.

The U.S. embassy and consulate in Kazakhstan released a funding opportunity last week, seeking applications for a nonprofit to run future festivals and events that are modeled on South by Southwest and TED talks. The most recent festival held over the weekend featured sessions on climate change and "fake news."

"The Go Viral Festival was launched in June 2017 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, as an opportunity for innovators in media, culture, business and technology to learn from one another and engage with American and European experts in their fields of interest," according to the grant announcement. "The annual Festival is modeled after South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, and includes music, art, TED style talks, and engaging workshops for young innovators."

"Following the success of the Go Viral Festival in 2017, the Go Viral Network was established to continue and expand engagement with up-and-coming independent voices in Central Asia, and to provide opportunities for network members to collaborate with each other," the State Department said.

The State Department said the goal of the festival is to expand "diverse viewpoints," and support innovation. The recipient of the taxpayer funding will oversee the planning of future festivals, create a monthly newsletter, develop a "Go Viral Country Ambassadors Program," and appoint a "Go Viral Coordinator."

The recipient will also be responsible for strengthening the "Go Viral Steering Committee," which comes up with "themes for the Festival, branding and local trends, and the selection process for the small grants program."

The estimated funding for the award is $1,250,000. The award was categorized as discretionary spending.

The most recent festival was held in Almaty between June 15 and June 17. The festival featured talks on "fake news" and "indicators of credibility and trust in modern media" and how mobile photography "can change the world," according to a translated version of its website.

The panel "Stories about water from Central Asia" asked, "How can you deal with climate change with the help of storytelling?"

Another session focused on uniting "people with a good mood."

"You yourself know how much good a person brings a good mood and a sincere laugh," a description for the session states. "Scientists have already proved that laughter prolongs a person's life. And today we will talk with Nuralan Koyanbayev to get an answer to the question whether humor and laughter favors a good mood, how useful they are in communication and communication."