SXSW 2020 Canceled Amid Coronavirus Fears

SXSW Crowds
Andy Sheppard/Redferns via Getty Images
Music fans gather on 6th Street in Austin, Texas, during SXSW.

As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread, the City of Austin announced the cancellation of South By Southwest 2020 Friday afternoon.

The announcement comes just a week before SXSW was scheduled to begin March 13, and 10 days before the Texas event’s music portion was set to begin March 16.

“We are devastated to share this news with you,” SXSW wrote in a statement. “‘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 decision.”

According to SXSW’s statement, the cancellation was mandated by the local government, and the festival’s explanation noted that “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.'”

But “this situation evolved rapidly” and forced SXSW to change its course. The festival says it is “exploring options to reschedule the event and [is] working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants.”

“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,” the festival wrote.

SXSW’s cancellation caps a busy week where brewing coronavirus concerns have spread to the North American live events industry. Major brands including Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Netflix had already pulled out of the event prior to Friday, even as industry professionals have urged caution.

Ultra Music Festival, the electronic music festival that annually draws 165,000 to Miami, announced the cancellation of its March event on Wednesday.

In recent weeks, artists from BTS to Green Day have canceled concerts in South Korea, and acts such as Mac DeMarco and The National have canceled shows in Japan.

France’s Tomorrowland Winter electronic music festival announced its cancellation Friday.

This story is developing.