SXSW 2020 Canceled Amid Coronavirus Concerns
SXSW, the annual mega-conference and music, tech and film festival in Austin, Texas, for technology, music and more, has been canceled for 2020. The decision comes amid growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus.
SXSW organizers announced the event's cancellation on Friday (March 6). It will be the first time in 34 years that the festival will not take place. In 2019, per SXSW Inc., SXSW made the City of Austin $355.9 million; in 2020, hundreds of artists from across genres were booked to perform, including Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson and more.
"We are devastated to share this news with you. 'The show must go on' is in our DNA," SXSW's team says in a statement. "We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation."
Per TheVerge.com, Austin Mayor Steve Adler "issued an order that effectively cancels" SXSW 2020, which was scheduled for March 13-22. Billboard explains that Adler "declared a local disaster" within Austin, though there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus there.
"There is no emergency in our city today other than needing to plan and be prepared," Adler says.
SXSW's statement confirms that the event's cancellation was a decision made by the City of Austin rather than event organizers. "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," reads the statement.
Currently, SXSW is looking at the possibility of rescheduling the 2020 event, and are working on a "virtual SXSW online experience." Organizers will be in touch with attendees, speakers, sponsors and other participants "as soon as possible," the statement says.
"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's statement concludes. "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."
SXSW is one of several upcoming events and festivals to be affected by the coronavirus: Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival was also postponed on Friday. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been over 100,000 confirmed cases worldwide. In the United States, as of March 5, there have been over 200 confirmed cases of the virus, and 14 people have died.
Despite the cancellation of SXSW 2020, Luck Reunion, which occurs annually during the festival, will still take place this year.
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