AUSTIN, TX (CelebrityAccess) — On Friday, organizers for the South by Southwest music festival and conference announced that officials with the City of Austin have canceled the event due to the public health risks posed by COVID-19 coronavirus.
The cancellation includes both the SXSW main event and their international education conference. SXSW EDU.
News of the cancellation followed a press conference by Austin mayor Steve Adler, who declared a local public health emergency.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, festival organizers said: “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.”
Organizers stated that they are exploring their options to reschedule the event, and hope to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU.
As with other events that have been canceled or postponed at the last minute, SXSW organizers declined to commit to offering refunds, but stated they will be in touch with registrants, clients, and participants “as soon as possible.”
SXSW 2020 was scheduled to start on Sunday and extend through March 12th. The followup SXSW Film Festival, which was scheduled to take place from March 16–22, has also been postponed, as was the SXSW Comedy Festival, which was planned for March 13-21.
Even before the official postponements, SXSW was starting to look a little thin. Throughout the week, there was a steady drumbeat of conference participants, including tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Apple, who announced they were dropping out of the event due to the risks of COVID-19.