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SXSW Faces An Uncertain Future As Local Community Support Begins To Materialize

SXSW Faces An Uncertain Future As Local Community Support Begins To Materialize

SXSW 2019 (David Brendan Hall)
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AUSTIN, TX (CelebrityAccess) — Two founders of the South by Southwest music festival and conference have revealed that the event’s insurance did not cover cancellation by infectious disease.

The 10-day festival, which was to have started on March 13th, was canceled by city and county officials on Friday over concerns that it would help spread COVID-19 novel coronavirus and the move could cost the festival tens of millions of dollars.

In a statement to the Austin Chronicle after the cancellation, co-founder and Managing Director Roland Swenson said: “We have a lot of insurance (terrorism, injury, property destruction, weather). However, bacterial infections, communicable diseases, viruses, and pandemics are not covered.”

The festival, which includes a film fest and other events, contributes about $356 million to the Austin economy and was attended by 417,000 in 2019.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Swenson noted that it was too soon to know if the financial damage to SXSW was a fatal blow.

“I am most worried about my people and what this means for their future, and I don’t know what that is yet,” Mr. Swenson told the newspaper. “We are planning to carry on and do another event in 2021, but how we’re going to do that I’m not entirely sure.”

Swenson went on to say that the organization is looking at all of their options, including rescheduling the festival to later this year if it is logistically possible.

They are also looking into alternative means of funding the event, including possible grants.

Despite the official cancellation of the festival, multiple alternative events are starting to shape up in Austin. The day after the cancellation was announced, supporters of the event in Austin announced the formation of Stand with Austin, an initiative to support creatives, venues, production companies, service industry staff, and other small businesses affected by the abrupt cancellation.

The initiative includes the creation of the Austin Community Fund, which is directed at individuals and small businesses in the region that are facing the economic fallout from the lost event and Banding Together ATX, which seeks to assist artists and workers who have spent money arranging travel to Austin, or who have lost work by the cancellation of the festival.

Finally, the Southern Smoke Foundation has created a fund specific to Austin’s hospitality industry as it grapples with the effects of lost business from the cancellation.

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