This is the first time in the music conference’s 34-year history it has canceled the entire annual event.
South by Southwest has been canceled, following a press conference Friday (March 6) where Austin Mayor Steve Adler declared a local disaster due to concerns over the coronavirus.
The annual music conference was scheduled March 13-22. This is the first time SXSW’s 34-year history it has canceled the entire annual event.
During Adler’s press conference Friday, he said, “I am proud that we are making decisions that are data driven.” But he also expressed regret about the action, adding, “It is really unfortunate to be cancelling SXSW. It is really important to our city.”
Last year, city officials estimated that South by Southwest had a $356 million economic impact on the city of Austin.
Adler added that no confirmed cases of coronavirus had been detected in the Texas capital city and noted, “there is no emergency in our city today other than needing to plan and be prepared.”
“Based on the recommendation of our public health officer and our director of public health, and after consultation with the city manager, I have gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city,” Adler said. “And associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW for this year.”
Austin emergency medicine director Dr. Mark Escott, who also spoke at the press conference, said the city would be evaluating unsanctioned non-SXSW events on a case-by-case basis.
Following the mayor’s announcement, SXSW issued a statement on its website saying it would follow the City’s directions.
“We are devastated to share this news with you,” the statement reads. “‘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.”