If you’ve been following along in entertainment news this week you’ve seen 2 key things: continual mention of the coronavirus & corporations pulling out of SXSW. Amazon, Apple, Netflix, WarnerMedia and several other media-centric groups cancelled panels and screenings at the event. Yet, there was no words that the festival itself was on the chopping block. There was rumbling and rumors, but nothing concrete. At least, not until today.
SXSW 2020 has officially been cancelled.
Right around 4pm CST Austin Mayor Alder formally announced a disaster order for the city of Austin. Among other things, this means that major events in March have officially been cancelled. This includes SXSW. A massive blow not only to the city, it’s many employees, but also emerging filmmakers and freelance writers. The major and public health officials stressed this isn’t because of an outbreak in the city, but a precaution as to help avoid a potential outbreak. So, from that standpoint, it’s totally understandable, if not the ideal most would want.
It should be pointed out that SXSW wasn’t cancelled due to the number of corporations that pulled out of the event. Nor did the decision come from the festival itself. Their hand was essentially forced, due to the decree set forth by the city.
Here’s the initial release from SXSW, as put out on Twitter:
An Update on SXSW 2020. Please read our full statement here: https://t.co/P56nF8KFmE pic.twitter.com/ouJPKM9GNy
— SXSW (@sxsw) March 6, 2020
And here is a longer official press release statement, about the cancellation, from their site:
“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.”
We know this isn’t the normal type of article we’d run here, but it is news and it does concern the entertainment world. Furthermore, SXSW is an event we’ve been thrilled to get to cover for several years now. It’s a crazy precedent to be set. One that makes everyone turn their eyes to other upcoming festivals. Tribeca is coming up soon. Cannes has been steadfast that they’re going forward. Yet, that was SXSW’s stance too.
There’s one thing that for sure: stay safe, stay smart and if you’re some crazy person who didn’t already do so, please please wash your hands & don’t shake them with people. Even though it’s apparently somehow ok to still fist bump.