The City of Austin has formally cancelled the March dates for South By Southwest (SXSW) and SXSW EDU. A lengthy statement posted at noted, “SXSW will faithfully follow the City’s directions.” The statement continued, “We are devastated to share this news with you. ‘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. 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.”
News of the formal cancellation followed on the heels of multiple major companies pulling out of the festival due to an abundance of caution over the coronavirus — Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, LinkedIn, Audible, IBM and Intel. On Friday, Variety reported that the three major label groups — Sony, Universal and Warner Music — had advised their employees not to attend SXSW. Ozzy Osbourne had also called off an appearance to promote a documentary, while scheduled talks with Trent Reznor and the Beastie Boys were cancelled when the companies sponsoring the films they were connected to (WarnerMedia and Apple, respectively) pulled out of the conference.
In closing, the statement read, “We understand the gravity of the situation for all the creatives who utilize SXSW to accelerate their careers; for the global businesses; and for Austin and the hundreds of small businesses – venues, theatres, vendors, production companies, service industry staff, and other partners that rely so heavily on the increased business that SXSW attracts. We will continue to work hard to bring you the unique events you love. Though it’s true that our March 2020 event will no longer take place in the way that we intended, we continue to strive toward our purpose – helping creative people achieve their goals.”