The 2020 South by Southwest music and film festival has officially been canceled due to growing concerns related to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
In a statement published to the SXSW website on Friday, March 6, festival organizers said that Austin officials ordered a cancellation of the event, and that they plan to “faithfully follow the City’s directions,” adding that they are “committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites.”
The statement went on to note that festival organizers are working on options for rescheduling, as well as a “virtual SXSW online experience” for 2020 participants. “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,” the statement concluded. “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.”
As noted by Entertainment Weekly, the official cancellation comes after various companies had pulled out of the festival, including Amazon, Netflix, and WarnerMedia. For a while, it seemed as though the event would go on as scheduled; at a press conference earlier this week, Austin health officials reported that there was “no evidence” that cancelling SXSW would make the community safer, adding that they would continue to reevaluate the situation on a daily basis.The official cancellation came two days later.
In the wake of the news, there’s been a variety of reactions on social media. Kumail Nanjiani, who was scheduled to be a featured speaker at this year’s SXSW, tweeted: “Sxsw is one of my favorite festivals. Canceling it was the responsible thing to [do]. I know this sucks for many people for whom this was a massive opportunity. But we’re kind of in an unprecedented situation here and caution is key. Thank you for the making the right decision.”
Others are pointing out the effects on the local economy, as well as how the cancellation will impact the incomes of creatives and service workers. “That’s a ton of lost hours and lost tips,” tweeted writer and podcaster Matthew Yglesias, while Texas Monthly writer Dan Solomon added: “Really hard to overstate the consequences of canceling SXSW on so many people’s ability to make a living and pay their rent.” Many folks on Twitter have been sharing similar sentiments, highlighting the various occupations that will inevitably be impacted by the festival’s closure this year. According to MarketWatch, SXSW brought $356 million into Austin’s economy in 2019.
With the official cancellation of SXSW out in the world (along with the postponement of Miami’s Ultra Music Festival), it’s hard not to wonder if Coachella might be next. According to officials, no such plan is in place — yet.
At a press conference on Thursday, March 5, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s Public Health Officer, reiterated that there were currently no plans to cancel any events in the Coachella Valley — but he would support the decision to cancel if officials and festival organizers deemed it necessary.
“It is still over five weeks before visitors will make their way to Indio to attend a series of concerts here,” reads a statement regarding Coachella and Stagecoach from city officials, per Los Angeles Magazine. “The City of Indio is actively monitoring input from local, state, and national health officials to assess the health risks of COVID-19 and update those risks to stakeholders.”
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue