SXSW has officially been canceled amid growing fears over the spread of coronavirus. As of Friday afternoon, there have been 17 confirmed cases in Texas, where the annual entertainment, music and technology festival takes place.
Festival organizers shared the following statement online, adding that they are “devastated,” but will follow the City of Austin’s decision:
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.
As recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health stated that “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.” However, this situation evolved rapidly, and we honor and respect the City of Austin’s decision. We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites.
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.
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.
Between Thursday night and Friday morning, three more cases had been confirmed in Texas. There are currently 66 confirmed cases in California, where many of the participating media and tech companies are based.
Prior to the announcement, much of Hollywood and Silicon Valley had already canceled their plans for the annual festival, which was scheduled to run from March 13 through March 22.
Amazon Studios, Apple, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, and Starz had been among the companies that had canceled their SXSW plans, while Starz parent Lionsgate and HBO Max and CNN parent WarnerMedia had scaled back their activities.
AMC had pulled its featured session with Jason Segel to promote his new series, “Dispatches From Elsewhere.” Meanwhile, NBCUniversal had decided to no longer participate in SXSW this year; NBC News first reported the news on Thursday. No panels had been officially announced, but NBCU had intended to once more set up its Comcast NBCUniversal House, which last year featured immersive virtual reality, gaming experiences and panels.
Additionally, Sony had canceled its panel for AMC’s “Better Call Saul.” Co-creator Peter Gould tweeted late Thursday that he was “very sorry and disappointed” that the event had been dropped from the schedule.
AMC’s panel for “The Walking Dead: World Beyond” had also been canceled, following the withdrawal of media hosts IGN and Mashable.
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