After releasing a statement last week to reassure fans that this year's SXSW will move cautiously forward past the recent COVID-19 outbreak, the conference has gone ahead and issued a final cancellation. Following the urges at the Mayor of Austin's mandatory request during a press conference given today, SXSW will be canceled for the first time in 34 years. An official statement was tweeted through the SXSW handle below:
— SXSW (@sxsw) March 6, 2020
Following the announcement of keynote speaker Twitter Co-founder Jack Dorsey canceling his appearance due to increases of COVID-19 cases in the US, more and more companies within the Tech portion of the conference began dropping like dominos. An online petition to cancel the conference was also started that gained more than 55,000 signature in support. But the music portion of the conference held strong and the ethos of SXSW "the show must go on" seemed to persevere. But today, the conference, working alongside the city of Austin, determined that the current risks associated with the widespread coronavirus were enough to place the health of the city and potential festival attendees above all else.
No word on what this will mean for the unofficial events and acts happening throughout the city during that week, or what this will mean for touring artists visiting Austin not associated with the conference. Either way, this will have a heartbreaking effect on the passionate artists and organizers who have worked tirelessly on preparing for this year's event (not to mention the local businesses banking on the added revenue). I'll place bets that many of these acts and showcases will move forward as unofficial concerts. Who knows, this could be a blessing in disguise for the passionate music aficionados who complain each year about SXSW losing touch with its more humble beginnings. At the end of the day, you can expect that the local members of the hard-working Austin music industry will still find ways to both support the labels, acts, and the cities nightlife workers while the city contains itself.
But for everyone else, it might be best to hold off just a bit longer on booking those travel plans for Coachella.