The organizers of the South by Southwest Music Festival announced today that, at the request of the City of Austin, they have cancelled festival events that were scheduled to begin on March 13th. This is the first time in 34 years that the festival will not take place, although a statement on the SXSW website noted that the organizers “are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible.”
Several other major conferences have announced cancellations or been postponed because of fears surrounding the CoVID19 viral outbreak, including Facebook’s annual developer conference and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Previous to this announcement more than 35,000 people signed a petition to cancel South by Southwest due to the outbreak, and Twitter and Facebook have pulled out of the event.
The definitive decision came Friday morning when the department of Public Health in Austin reversed their previous stance that closing public gatherings would not help make the community safer, forcing organizers to cancel one of the largest annual cultural events in the nation. Scheduled to run 10 days, each year SXSW showcases not only music, but also film, comedy, interactive media, and education, with over 160,000 attendees in 2018.
SXSW also stated that they are fully aware of the huge impact that this cancellation will have on “creatives who utilize SXSW to accelerate their careers; for the global businesses; and for Austin and the hundreds of small businesses that rely on the business that SXSW attracts.” But the economic losses to the bands who are already on the road and changing thier tou schedules and the exhibitors who have probably already rented and shipped booths and materials will undoubtedly be in the millions