Billie Eilish performed at the Uber Eats House during the South by Southwest festival in 2019. The … [+]
(Updated: 5:26 p.m. EST, March 6, 2020)
Topline: The city of Austin cancelled the annual SXSW festival due to the coronavirus outbreak, Mayor Steve Adler announced Friday afternoon, prompting festival organizers to release a statement saying they were “devastated” and still working through the ramifications of Adler’s decision.
- Adler announced at a press conference Friday that based on recommendations from public health officials, he has declared a local disaster in Austin and issued an order to cancel the SXSW festival.
- The city and festival organizers had come under pressure in recent days as big name companies and acts pulled out of the festival and an online petition to cancel the event amassed more than 50,000 signatures, according to the Verge.
- The announcement was a dramatic and abrupt reversal from the most recent update on Monday that the festival would go on as planned, reflecting the speed with which virus concerns have grown in the U.S. this week.
- In a statement, SXSW said that festival organizers will “faithfully follow the city’s directions” and that the festival’s website noted that organizers were exploring the possibility of rescheduling or pulling together a virtual event this year.
- In 2019, SXSW festival events overall drew in more than 400,000 attendees; a refund policy was not yet made clear by organizers.
Key background: Some of the festival lineup’s most prominent speakers have cancelled their appearances out of caution for the coronavirus, including Ozzy Osbourne and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Companies that have dropped out include Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Twitter.
Crucial quote: “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,” organizers said in a statement. “We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.”