SXSW Canceled due to Coronavirus Concerns
Concerns over the coronavirus have officially thwarted 2020’s South by Southwest arts and technology festival. The much-anticipated event draws thousands every year and was set to take place from Friday, March 13 through Sunday, March 22.
In a press conference on Friday, March 6, City of Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced that the City of Austin issued an order effectively and formally canceling the event. In a statement, SXSW organizers said that “SXSW will faithfully follow the City’s directions.” This announcement was made several days after industry leaders including Netflix, Mashable, TikTok, and Intel had already pulled out of the festival.
The statement also explained that organizers 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.”
As of Friday, local officials say there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Travis County, where Austin is located. However, more than 50,000 people had signed a petition seeking to get the festival canceled. According to a report released at 5 pm CT on Friday, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus (COVID-19) has risen to 15, and at least 213 confirmed cases have been detected through the local public health system. There are currently six cases of coronavirus in the Houston area.
In the wake of SXSW’s cancelation, actor/writer/comedian Kumail Nanjiani, who was supposed to be a featured speaker, said in a tweet that SXSW is one of his “favorite festivals” but “canceling it was the responsible thing” to do. He also added “I know this sucks for many people for whom this was a massive opportunity. But we’re kind of in an unprecedented situation here and caution is key. Thank you for making the right decision.”
Organizers also said that “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.”