Just a couple days after public health officials in Austin, TX held a press conference to confirm that the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival and conference would go on as planned, the city has now pulled the plug on the massive event due to fears about the spread of COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus. This is the first time in 34 years that the influential music festival and conference will not take place.
"The City of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. SXSW will faithfully follow the City’s directions," organizers said in a statement today. "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."
The organizers also said that are exploring options to reschedule the event, which was supposed to take place from March 13-22 and expected to bring about 70,000 people to the city. They also said they are working on a "virtual SXSW online experience" for 2020 participants, starting with the SXSW EDU conference programming.
"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," the SXSW statement added.
For more information as it becomes available, go to www.sxsw.com.