CoronaVirus Concerns Cancel South By Southwest 2020!
The decision for South by Southwest 2020 cancellation, declared by city officials in Austin on Friday, issued only 2 days after Austin public health officials declared the festival could continue as planned despite a string of high-profile dropouts and widespread calls to cancel.
“I’ve gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city, and, associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels South by Southwest this year,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced Friday afternoon.
The South By Southwest 2020 had been scheduled to take place from March 13 to March 22. This is the first time in 34 years that it has been canceled, according to the organizers.
A statement on the SXSW website said it would “faithfully follow the City’s directions.”
“We are devastated to share this news with you,” organizers wrote on the website. ”‘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.”
Austin officials maintained there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Travis County, where Austin is located. Although confirmed cases around the world reached 100,000 Friday.
In the blog post, organizers did notice no details about refunds for badges, which range in cost from $1,395 to $1,725.
The conference said it had 73,716 attendees in 2019, 19,166 of whom were from outside the U.S. On top of that, much more work and volunteer at the event.
A Change.org petition asking conference organizers to cancel the conference, calling proceeding with plans “irresponsible,” had received above 40,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning. However, before canceling, organizers had announced they were working with government agencies to secure the safety of the event.
What is South By Southwest festival?
South by Southwest (stylized as SXSW and colloquially referred to as South By) is an annual conglomeration of parallel film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences organized jointly that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas, United States. It started in 1987 and has continued to grow in both scope and size every year.
In 2017, the conference lasted for 10 days with the interactive track lasting for five days, music for seven days, and film for 9 days.
SXSW is covered by the company SXSW, LLC, which organizes conferences, trade shows, festivals, and other events. In addition to the three main South by Southwest festivals, the company runs other conferences: SXSW EDU, a conference on educational innovation, held in Austin, and me Convention, held in Frankfurt, Germany and in Stockholm, Sweden, in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz.
Former conferences run by the SXSW organization include SXSW Eco, a conference focusing on social and environmental issues through the lens of technology, creativity, and design held in Austin from 2011 to 2016; and another in Las Vegas: SXSW V2V, a conference focused on innovative startups, which ran from 2013 to 2015. Previously, SXSW produced music festivals North by Northwest in Portland, Oregon, North by Northeast in Toronto, Canada and West by Southwest in Tucson, Arizona.
Coronavirus panic impacts on festivals
The death of America Coronavirus Cases has climbed to 14, with all but New Coronavirus Deaths Of Washington state, while the number of infections swelled to over 200 scattered across at least 18 states, including at least six cases in the Houston area.
Officials in Austin announced that festivals planned for later in the spring will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
“Panic will weaken us,” said a city official during the presser, adding that the festival’s cancellation is a matter of precaution based on recommendations from public health officials.
The news comes just days after the cancellation of the Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, a three-day, electronic dance festival, and is fueling concerns in the music industry that this year’s Coachella music festival in southern California could be next.
Forbes reports that so far no news has surfaced that Coachella is called off, but that some in the industry are worried about the economic impact of canceled gigs, lost merchandise sales and more.
SXSW last year was worth an estimated $356m into the economy of Austin, while Coachella’s footprint has been pegged at upwards of $1bn worldwide, reports the outlet.
“We’re beginning to see it affect the entire music ecosystem,” an unnamed artist manager told Forbes. “We’re getting calls from our agents about promoters canceling individual shows. Songwriters and producers have canceled flights into LA for sessions, so it’s starting to trickle down to the songwriting and production communities as well.”
Coronavirus effects on other conference’s too
Several of the conference’s biggest names had already pulled out in the days leading up to the cancellation.
Twitter was the first big company to pull out of the event, citing its new policy restricting all business travel because of the virus. Facebook, Intel, Vevo, and Mashable soon followed suit.
Popular video app TikTok also backed out, saying it would explore “alternative ways” to bring its planned SXSW content to audiences. “While we think the risk is relatively low, we are erring on the side of caution,” a TikTok spokesperson told Tuesday.
A number of tech companies have already canceled the in-person portion of their annual spring events, including Facebook and Google’s developer conferences. Soon after, SXSW organizers came under pressure but had resisted canceling the conference.
A Change.org petition urging a cancellation has garnered more than 53,000 signatures. Mark Escott, the interim medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health, said canceling the event was a necessary precaution to mitigate the further spread of the virus.”This is not unlike a hurricane looming in the Gulf,” he said. “Now is the time to think about what are we going to do as a community and as a government when that storm comes.”