After city officials in Austin, Texas, announced that this year’s South By Southwest festival had been canceled due to the threat of coronavirus, the company behind the festival is now refusing to issue refunds to those who had purchased tickets for the event.
According to Page Six, thousands of people bought tickets for the annual festival that features numerous film premieres, concerts from A-list musicians, and presentations from media and business leaders. It was scheduled to kick off on March 13th and run through March 22nd.
— IndieWire (@IndieWire) March 11, 2020
On SXSW’s website, the terms and conditions for participation in the event include a strict no-refund policy.
“Any and all payments made to SXSW are not refundable for any reason, including, without limitation, failure to use Credentials due to illness, acts of God, travel-related problems, acts of terrorism, loss of employment and/or duplicate purchases.”
On Friday, March 6th, conference organizers wrote on the SXSW website that they were “devastated” to share the news that the festival had been canceled for the first time in 34 years. They explained that “the show must go on” is in their DNA, but now they have to work through the ramifications of this “unprecedented situation.”
The Dallas Morning News reported that city officials ended up canceling the festival because of growing fears over COVID-19 even though no cases have been reported in the city of Austin or the surrounding counties.
— BallerAlert (@balleralert) March 10, 2020
People from all over the world attend the festival every year, and just days before the cancellation, announcement organizers insisted the event would go on as scheduled. But, numerous high-profile artists and major brands started dropping out of the festival because of coronavirus concerns.
Ozzy Osbourne, Trent Reznor, and the Beastie Boys had already jumped ship, as did Apple, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, and Intel.
Organizers say they are exploring options to reschedule the event, and they are working to provide a “virtual SXSW online experience” as soon as possible for 2020 participants. They added that they understand the gravity of the situation for the creatives who use South By Southwest to accelerate their careers.
South By Southwest also voiced their concern for the hundreds of small businesses in Austin – venues, theaters, vendors, production companies, and service industry staff – who rely on the festival each year for increased business.