SXSW cancelled amid coronavirus fears

SXSW 2020 and SXSW EDU March dates have been cancelled following a call by the City of Austin to shut down the film, interactive media, and music festival amid fears of exposing attendees and the community at large to the COVID-19 virus.

“We are devastated to share this news with you,” reads a statement posted by SXSW to 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.”

The festival said that as recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health had stated that “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.”

While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Austin or Travis County, cases worldwide surpassed 100,000 Friday. The festival’s cancellation also follows moves by Apple, Netflix, CNN, Warner Media, Twitter, Amazon Studios and others to pull out of the event, with many companies deferring all non-essential travel.

Telefilm Canada, the sponsor behind Canada House @ SXSW, which brings together the Canadian film, tech, and music sectors under one roof to promote Canada’s creative industries, had been monitoring the situation day-to-day.

Telefilm spokesperson Brian Mullen said with the festival’s cancellation, any activities related to Canada House – which was scheduled to run Mar. 15-19 – will not go ahead. 

Mullen said the agency will be in communication with Canada House partners.

Meanwhile, SXSW says it’s exploring options to reschedule the event and is working on providing a virtual online experience for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU.


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