By SVC Online Editor
The City of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. SXSW will faithfully follow the City’s directions.
The following statement was issued by SXSW:
“We are devastated to share this news with you. “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.
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.” 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.
We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, clients, and participants we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ.
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.
We will continue to work hard to bring you the unique events you love. 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.”
Amazon Studios is the latest company to cancel its presence at SXSW amid growing coronavirus concerns. Earlier this week,Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok said they wouldn’t attend the massive culture and tech event, which last year brought more than 400,000 attendees from 105 countries.
The big conference is scheduled from March 13 to March 22 in Austin, Texas. The drop in participation from major tech companies raises questions about whether SXSW will be canceled all together. More than 25,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org calling for the cancellation of SXSW. On Wednesday, however, Austin health officials said SXSW would go on as planned.
On Wednesday, Variety reported that Netflix canceled its plans for the festival, including five film screenings. Entertainment Weekly reported on Wednesday that Amazon canceled all its plans for SXSW, including screenings and panels as well as an event with Entertainment Weekly’s magazine.
Apple has also reportedly withdrawn, canceling plans to screen three new Apple TV Plus originals at the festival, including the world premiere of Spike Jonze’s documentary Beastie Boys Story.
On Monday, CNET reported that a Facebook spokesperson said that “due to concerns related to coronavirus, our company and employees will not be participating in SXSW this year.”
Over the weekend, a Twitter blog post noted the company is adjusting its travel policy. “On February 29, we informed our people and started notifying partners that we are suspending all non-critical business travel and events,” the blog post said. A day later the company said the policy included travel to Texas for SXSW, where CEO Jack Dorsey was the scheduled keynote.
TikTok, the Chinese company behind the popular same-named app, said Tuesday that it wouldn’t attend the gathering either. “While we think the risk is relatively low, we are erring on the side of caution as we prioritize safety for our team, creators, partners, artists, and brands,” a spokesperson said in an email. “We are looking at a variety of alternative ways to bring parts of the previously scheduled experience to audiences in creative new forms.”
Business Insider, which reported earlier about Facebook’s decision, noted that conference organizers said earlier Monday that SXSW would still go on as scheduled. Several Facebook employees, including an engineer and designer, were scheduled to speak during the conference, according to SXSW’s website.
This article originally ran on svconline.com.