SXSW 2020 canceled over coronavirus fears, Austin mayor declares ‘local disaster’ as major partners pull out

In a statement on the SXSW website, the organizers wrote, “We are devastated to share this news with you. 'The show must go on' is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place"


                            SXSW 2020 canceled over coronavirus fears, Austin mayor declares ‘local disaster’ as major partners pull out
SXSW 2109 (Getty Images)

South by Southwest, more commonly known as SXSW, the annual conglomeration of parallel film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences organized in Austin, Texas, has been canceled for the year 2020. The cancellation came in the light of concerns over the coronavirus and the respiratory illness it causes, COVID-19.

According to Cnet, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in a press conference Friday, “Based on the recommendation of our public health official and director of public health and after consultation with our city manager, I've gone ahead and declared a local disaster. And along with that issued an order that cancels SXSW this year.” 

“It’s a really important event to our city in a lot of ways, tied to who we are in this city,” Adler added. “I look forward to the next iteration of SXSW when it comes back for us.”

In a statement on the SXSW website, the organizers wrote, “We are devastated to share this news with you. 'The show must go on' is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.”

The statement further said, “We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, clients, and participants we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ.”

The organizers added, “We understand the gravity of the situation for all the creatives who utilize SXSW to accelerate their careers; for the global businesses; and for Austin and the hundreds of small businesses – venues, theatres, vendors, production companies, service industry staff, and other partners that rely so heavily on the increased business that SXSW attracts.”

SXSW 2020 was scheduled to be held from March 13 to March 22. But over the course of the last week, numerous partners pulled out of the event amid fear of the coronavirus. From Twitter, Facebook, Intel, Amazon Studios, Apple, and Netflix: all backed out of several on-ground events and panels, and even film premieres. On Thursday, WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal said they would also be dropping out of the festival too.

SXSW started in 1987. Since then it has grown exponentially and last year, the event drew in about 417,4000 attendees.

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