The city of Austin has canceled the annual tech, music, and film meet up SXSW, due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, and just one week before it was slated to start. It is the first time in 34 year of the event’s history that it’s been sxsw cancelled. The festival was planned to take place from March 13th to March 22nd, yet Austin Mayor Steve Adler today announced that, along with an increasing number of high-profile speakers and withdrawals and growing public health distress, the annual tech, music, and film festival will no longer be taking place.
Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement that he issued an order that effectively cancels South by Southwest, referencing an emergency order put in place Friday over the novel coronavirus outbreak. The decision will almost certainly be a harsh blow to the city’s economy, as SXSW brings in hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism, ticket sales, and other profit streams every year. Last year, SXSW made $355.9 million for the city of Austin south by southwest.
The private company that organizes SXSW, which has yet to detail its refund policies, made clear in a announcement issued on Twitter and its website that SXSW was canceled due to the decision made by Austin city officials and out of the company’s hands. Even though SXSW is canceled it may end up taking place in some form or another later this year. “We are finding out options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for this year’s participants, starting with SXSW EDU. For weeks leading up to the festival, there were growing concerns about whether it was a smart decision for Austin leaders and the festival organizers to host SXSW, which brings nearly half a million people to a concentrated section of the Austin city’s downtown. The situation became more complex as US coronavirus cases began spiking in Washington state, where there have so far been at least 11 reported deaths, and rapidly spreading to other parts of the country.
A petition on the website Change.org calling for the event’s cancellation collective more than 55,000 unique signatures and high-profile speakers like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey pulled out ahead of the cancelation announcement. Other big Companies like Amazon, Apple, and Netflix all said they would no longer premiere their new film and TV projects at the event, and countless companies and tech firms Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Intel and news organizations like CNN and Mashable also withdrew their officials on the ground presences at the festival. On Monday, SXSW organizers said the event would proceed as planned earlier. “As a result of this statement, the SXSW 2020 event is proceeding with safety as a top priority,” the organizers said in a statement given to USA Today. “There is a lot about Novel Coronavirus that is still unknown to us, but what we do know is that personal hygiene is of utmost importance. We hope that people follow the science, put into practice the recommendations of public health agencies, and continue to participate in the activities that make our world connected. That’s our plan.