SXSW has officially announced it will cancel its technology and music conference in Austin, Texas, scheduled for March 13-22, for concerns about the corona virus, although rescheduling is currently planned. “On the recommendation of our health officer and our director of public health. . . I proclaimed a local disaster in the city and issued an order that effectively overturned SXSW, ”said Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin, at a press conference today.
SXSW writes that it will follow the mayor's orders and cancel its conference. “We are reviewing options to reschedule the event and are working to offer 2020 attendees a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible, starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, customers and participants we will contact you as soon as possible and publish an FAQ. “It is unclear whether participants or sponsors will receive reimbursements.
Interim Health Department for Austin Dr. Mark Escott said there are no Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Travis County, but called the cancellation "a proactive step in preparing this community for this storm." He said that SXSW's cancellation was the right move because people would spend a long time close to each other at panels and concerts, and because some registered attendees came from international and national areas exposed to COVID 19. However, not all future events need to be canceled, Escott explained.
The news comes just three days after Adler held a press conference to announce, "There is currently no evidence that canceling SXSW makes us more secure." On Tuesday, Austin's Travis County announced Thursday that there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19.
SXSW is known as a central meeting point for the tech, music and media industries that come together to learn from each other and enjoy the weather, beer, and grilling in Texas. A decade ago, it was the hottest place to start new social apps. Though the event has become less nerdy and more mainstream over the years, SXSW has become more of a showroom for well-funded companies to prove they are cool.
A petition to cancel the 2020 conference had reached 54,000 signatures. Entrepreneurship influencer Tim Ferris had asked Adler to cancel the event. SXSW had refused to offer refunds to buyers and participants of exhibition stands. A full access platinum badge for the conference currently costs $ 1,550.
The conference was put in a difficult situation by the withdrawal of many top-class sponsors, speakers and party organizers. Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Vevo, TikTok, Warner / HBO and CNN had canceled all events, product announcements, film premieres and lectures by their employees.
Many other major tech conferences have been canceled or gone online, including Google I / O, Facebook F8, GDC, Collision Toronto, and Mobile World Congress. Music festivals such as Ultra in Miami and Tomorrowland in Belgium had also canceled. Lime President Joe Kraus was supposed to have a fireside chat with me at SXSW, but had already canceled this morning.
However, the effects on Austin could be particularly pronounced. SXSW is not a traditional festival that takes place in a huge place. It is spread across hundreds of venues across the city, where everyone hosts panels, parties, and concerts at the same time. For musicians in particular, expensive travel changes and tight tour schedules could make SXSW's cancellation a serious burden on their business and something that is difficult to postpone. The city's bars, restaurants, venues, and hotels, which benefit from hundreds of thousands of attendees, could also see a significant drop in sales.