SXSW has officially been canceled. The massive music and film festival, one of the biggest in the world, is the latest event to get canceled in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Companies, talent and media personnel had been pulling out of the event in recent days. Now, for the first time in 34 years, SXSW has been canceled entirely.
Austin, Texas was set to play host to SXSW next week starting March 13, with the festival set to run through March 22. Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and other major companies had backed out of the event recently. That, coupled with the recommendation of public health advisors led to the decision to cancel the event. Austin mayor Steve Adler, during a press conference, made the announcement. Here's what he had to say.
"Based on the recommendation of our public health officer and director of public health, and after consultation with the city manager, I've gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city, and associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW."
The impact of the cancellation will be sizable. In 2019, SXSW brought more than $350 million to the local economy. More than 100,000 people attend the event annually, travelling from all around the world. The festival covers a wide variety of media including movies, TV, music, tech and gaming. In a statement issued via the event's website, the organizers had this to say.
"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."
There are many unknowns at this time. It has not yet been revealed if ticket holders will be issued refunds. The financial ramifications for SXSW itself could be dire, depending on how things shake out. Though, the organizers say they are looking at options to possibly reschedule.
"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."
Rescheduling an event of this size would be challenging, to say the very least. Quite a few big movies were set to debut at the event, including the new Pete Davidson comedy The King of Staten Island, Apple's Beastie Boys Story, Paramount's The Lovebirds and many more. Other smaller movies also rely on festivals such as this to help build buzz and secure distribution.
Since emerging in China two months ago, the COVID-19 virus has spread to more than 60 countries across the globe. Nearly 100,000 cases have been reported, with the death toll climbing past 3,300. We'll be sure to keep you posted as any further details on the situation are made available. This news comes to us via SXSW.com.