March 6, 2020
TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) Austin’s annual South by Southwest music and arts festival was canceled Friday because of mounting concerns about the new corona virus.
The announcement was made during a late-afternoon news conference Friday.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler declared a local disaster as a precaution against the threat of the virus, which effectively killed the festival.
Tens of thousands of people had signed a petition calling for cancellation of the annual event, but organizers had insisted that SXSW would proceed as planned.
“We are devastated to share this news with you,” organizers said in a tweet Friday.
“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,’” they said.
“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.”
Organizers said they’re exploring the possibility of rescheduling the event and to provide a “virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants.”
“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.”
Earlier Friday the Temple Health and Bioscience District joined a growing list of groups and companies pulling out of the festival because of concerns about the new coronavirus.
“We regret the need to withdraw our participation, but due to the fact that this is an international conference and the coronavirus has shown a potential for community spread, THBD has decided that it is in the best interest of our staff and community not to attend the event.” THBD Executive Director Tami Annable said in a brief press release.
Facebook, Mashable, TikTok, Twitter and chip maker Intel earlier said they wouldn’t participate in the festival, which was to have run from March 13 to March 22.
Netflix cancelled its screenings at the festival and a panel with Rashida Jones and Kenya Barris about the series #blackexcellence.
Rocker Ozzy Osbourne also canceled his appearance because of concerns about the virus.