The coronavirus epidemic continues to wreak havoc.
It was announced Friday (Mar 6) that South by Southwest, the annual music, tech, and film conference that takes place in Austin, Texas will be canceled amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
At a news conference this past Friday, Mayor Steve Adler, declared a state of emergency for the city of Austin and issued an order canceling the conference. The declaration could only last a week, however, it could be extended.
In a statement released on their website, SXSW stated that they will “faithfully follow the City’s directions” and “are exploring options to reschedule.”
“The City of Austin has canceled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. SXSW will faithfully follow the City’s directions.
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.
As recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health stated that “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.” However, this situation evolved rapidly, and we honor and respect the City of Austin’s decision. We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites.
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.
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.
We will continue to work hard to bring you the unique events you love. Though it’s true that our March 2020 event will no longer take place in the way that we intended, we continue to strive toward our purpose – helping creative people achieve their goals.”
Prior to the cancellation, companies were pulling out of the conference due to coronavirus concerns. On Wednesday, Netflix announced that they would not be attending SXSW. Apple, Amazon Studios, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook all decided to pull out of the festival as well due to coronavirus concerns.
There have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Travis County, where Austin is located.
According to the Austin Chronicle, SXSW founders Roland Swenson and Nick Barbaro revealed that SXSW does not have insurance that covers cancellation due to disease outbreak or triggered by the city declaring a “local state of disaster.” Swenson stated that “We have a lot of insurance (terrorism, injury, property destruction, weather). However, bacterial infections, communicable diseases, viruses, and pandemics are not covered.” This means that vendors and those invested in SXSW might end up losing a lot of money.