There will be no South By Southwest this year. The City of Austin has announced that they have cancelled the popular festival due to concerns over the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).
According to the Dallas Morning News, Austin city officials were forced to cancel the event – that had a $356 million economic impact on the city in 2019 – because of expert opinions from the medical community. However, there have been no reported cases of coronavirus in the city of Austin or in the surrounding Travis County.
This will be the first time in 34 years that South By Southwest will not take place. It was scheduled for March 13-21, and the festival was supposed to feature thousands of musicians, filmmakers, media entrepreneurs, and business leaders.
People come from all over the world to attend the festival, but Austin Mayor Steve Adler says they had to listen to the recommendations from their public health officer, the director of public health, and the city manager.
Festival organizers have not revealed if they will issue refunds for tickets that have already been purchased, but they did release the following statement on their website.
“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,” read the statement.
The event cancellation comes on the heels of the announcement of some major cancellations. Reps from Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Amazon, Vevo, Mashable, Apple, and Netflix had already pulled out of SXSW, and Ozzy Osbourne had also canceled his appearance because of his treatment for Parkinson’s Disease.
SXSW began in 1987 as a music festival, but over the past three decades it has evolved into a multi-industry event with a focus on music, media, and film. Mayor Adler says that the festival is part of Austin’s identity, and he calls the cancellation “really unfortunate.”
The festival cancellation has a major effect on the film industry, as many independent filmmakers premiere their movies at SXSW. Dallas Sonnier of the film company Cinestate says that some filmmakers are “canceling flights and struggling [with] how and where to launch their movies.”