Cap Times Idea Fest

  • 702 Langdon St.
  • Madison, WI 53706

Cap Times Idea Fest will be back at UW-Madison this fall, and we hope you’ll join us there!

If you missed Idea Fest last year, it was two days of lively discussions on everything from politics to the economy, education, journalism and culture — plus fun events, too. Here are some highlights for what we’ve got planned for this year’s festival.

On Friday night, Sept. 28, the trio of David Axelrod, David Maraniss and Dan Balz will take the stage at Memorial Union’s Shannon Hall to talk about the state of politics less than six weeks from Election Day.

Axelrod is a national figure in political circles. He was a chief architect for both of Barack Obama’s presidential victories and he’s now the head of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, not to mention the host of the popular “Axe Files” podcast and a frequent commentator on CNN.

Maraniss is a Madison native and Pulitzer-prize winning editor at the Washington Post, also the author of many books including definitive biographies of Bill Clinton, Obama and Vince Lombardi. His colleague Balz is the paper’s national correspondent, one of the sharpest political journalists in the country. If you’re interested in what’s going to happen in November of this year, you won’t want to miss hearing the three of them talk about it.

There will be lots of other sessions around politics on Saturday the 29th  — including discussions with former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and one with Charles Franklin, the head of the highly regarded Marquette Law School Poll — but there’s much more than that, some two dozen sessions in all.

Community leader Michael Johnson will come back from Cincinnati to talk about his impressions of Madison, Exact Sciences CEO Kevin Conroy will talk about the future of biotechnology in Wisconsin and Tony Award-winning actress Karen Olivo will discuss theater here and what it was like to be part of a “Hamilton” cast. Further sessions will look at everything from the Foxconn deal to school vouchers to the role of businesses in advancing racial equity, which media you can trust, how technology is changing us, the future of indigenous food and whether college athletes should be paid.

And there will be fun social events, too, like a happy hour trivia contest on the 28th before the Axelrod/Maraniss/Balz talk and a dance party later that night featuring hip-hop soul DJ Martinez White, a UW-Madison grad who’s a great entertainer and much more than that.

All-festival passes are on sale now through Campus Arts Ticketing, and those give you access to all the events described above, plus a free festival T-shirt. Passes cost $30 (all taxes and fees included) for the general public and $10 for students. Get yours now while they’re still available.


  • Admission: General Admission $30.00, Students $10.00