Austin cancels South by Southwest over coronavirus fears

Austin’s famed South by Southwest (SXSW) festival has been cancelled over concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The annual music, film and technology conference was scheduled to take place from March 16-22.

“We are devastated to share this news with you,” SXSW said in a statement on its website. “‘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.”

Initially, Austin Public Health said “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.” However, this changed after the mayor declared a state of emergency.

In the meantime, SXSW says it is exploring options to reschedule the event and working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU.

“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, theaters, vendors, production companies, service industry staff, and other partners that rely so heavily on the increased business that SXSW attracts,” SXSW says.

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