South by Southwest (SXSW), the music, film, and technology festival, has been canceled by event organizers at the request of Austin city officials. It was scheduled to run from March 13-22nd. According to The Dallas Morning News, City of Austin Mayor Steve Adler said during a press conference:
“Based on the recommendation of our public health officer and director of public health, and after consultation with the city manager, I’ve gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city, and associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW.”
Shortly before this announcement, Texas officials revealed that there were five active coronavirus cases in the state. However, no confirmed cases were in Austin at the time.
The Show Musn’t Go On Afterall Says COVID-19
SXSW organizers are considering scheduling for an alternative date and may arrange from some programming to be delivered online. A statement on the event website the organization stated:
“The City of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. SXSW will faithfully follow the City’s directions. 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.”
A number of large sponsors such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, and Warner Media had all pulled out in recent days but the event organizers were determined to keep the tradition alive and provide a venue for artists to perform. Once the Mayor declared a “disaster” that enables the government to legally take steps to address the public health risk associated with coronavirus spread, organizers had little choice but to comply. The government canceled the event and event organizers had no recourse.
Read the full statement by SXSW here.