SXSW festival cancelled over coronavirus fears
City officials in Austin have announced the cancellation of this year’s SXSW festival, a major tech and music conference, citing concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
SXSW, which draws 400,000 visitors, was scheduled for 13 March to 22 March.
“Based on the recommendation of our public health officer and our director of public health,” said Austin’s mayor, Steve Adler, at a Friday press conference. “I’ve gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city and associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW.”
The announcement follows several high-profile companies, including Netflix, tech news outlet Mashable, video-based social media platform TikTok and the US chip maker Intel, pulling out of the festival.
More than 50,000 people had signed a petition seeking to get the festival cancelled.
The US death toll from the coronavirus has climbed to 14 , with all but one victim in 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 said 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 cancelled gigs, lost merchandise sales and more.
“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.”