In an unprecedented move since its 1987 founding, officials announced the cancellation of Austin’s South by Southwest festival, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city every year, Friday afternoon during a press conference.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced the cancellation after issuing a state of emergency for the city over concern surrounding the coronavirus COVID-19. Currently, there are no confirmed cases of the virus in Austin.
SXSW representatives were not present at the press conference, but tweeted out the following response to the news:
An Update on SXSW 2020. Please read our full statement here: https://t.co/P56nF8KFmE pic.twitter.com/ouJPKM9GNy— SXSW (@sxsw) March 6, 2020
The news, which followed a week rife with cancellations and company dropouts, spread fast and many took to social media to share in their shock, relief, anger and concern for Austin’s service, hospitality and entertainment industries, which all prosper greatly from the event.
Take a look at what people are saying below:
Sad to hear that SXSW has been cancelled. Its the right call, but I feel for everyone who worked for years to get their films there. And for all the people of Austin who depend on the fest to help pay bills.— Colin Hanks (@ColinHanks) March 7, 2020
Me: *Finally gets to attend #SXSW for the first time*
#SXSW has always been one of my favorites. I love Austin. I love how all the filmmakers and locals are so happy to be there. I love the intimacy of the festival. I love seeing people on horses in front of the Paramount. Dont’t worry, Austin. We’ll be back.— Marc Malkin (@marcmalkin) March 6, 2020
So my heart is a little broken over the #SXSW cancellation. I understand taking safety precautions and obviously the well being of the event comes first but as someone who was attending - my very first international festival who had spent weeks of planning...I just need a moment pic.twitter.com/XhphImpx31— Peter Gray (@ratedPDG) March 6, 2020
They canceled #SXSW and my coworker is livid. I’m giving her side eye. People are dying. No performance is worth dying over. Listen to the cd at home and stay alive. pic.twitter.com/6CXaYoZRb4— DeeDee the TMZ of Soaps (@TMZDeeDee) March 6, 2020
I may not always be #SXSW’s biggest fan, but it’s cancellation sucks for so many friends I know who rely on that high paying work when it comes to town— Max Kruemcke (@MaxCookie) March 6, 2020
Goddamnit why couldn’t they have cancelled SXSW any of the years I played it— Mike Kinsella (@mybandowen) March 6, 2020
"Should SXSW 2020 Have Been Cancelled?" almost certainly will be the title of a panel discussion at SXSW 2021.— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) March 6, 2020
South By So What Now?— Chris Mosser (@ChrisMosser) March 6, 2020
Sxsw is one of my favorite festivals. Canceling it was the responsible thing to go. I know this sucks for many people for whom this was a massive opportunity. But we’re kind of in an unprecedented situation here and caution is key. Thank you for the making the right decision.— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) March 6, 2020
Many took the chance to remind each other of the economic impact the cancellation would have on Austin:
Never thought I'd see this, SXSW is canceled, completely wild economic repercussions for nearly everyone in the city— Dan Gentile (@Dannosphere) March 6, 2020
If #SXSW is canceled due to what can truly be characterized as a local disaster, where is the relief money for small businesses, artists, venue owners, musicians, service workers, industry workers and other stakeholders? Because it's the little guys that are really gonna lose.— BBATX (@bossbabesatx) March 6, 2020
public relations reps
parking garage attendants
not just the ‘hipsters from California’ you hate are affected by #SXSW’s cancelation
It sure as hell won't replace their SXSW income, but I hope y'all spend a little extra money this month eating/drinking/cavorting at downtown Austin businesses— Evil MoPac (@EvilMopacATX) March 6, 2020
My heart goes out to all those affected by the @sxsw cancellation. So vital to so many artists, organizations, businesses, etc. Let's order from local Austin businesses. Let's support the SXSW artists. Let's take care of each other.— Mark Duplass (@MarkDuplass) March 6, 2020
The cancelling of SXSW is a devastating blow to a lot of indie filmmakers who were set to finally premiere their hard work. My heart goes out to you all.— N O S I ⊥ ⊥ O S (@scottderrickson) March 6, 2020
The economic impact of canceling SXSW on the city of Austin is massive. But it’s also a huge blow to the artists who worked tirelessly for this opportunity. Don’t make light of it.— Jessica Huseman (@JessicaHuseman) March 6, 2020
now is the perfect time to buy merch and an album from your fav band that was scheduled to play sxsw.— hurray for the riff raff (@HFTRR) March 6, 2020
Sending love to all the filmmakers, techies, musicians etc. who planned on heading to Austin for @SXSW. Both my indie films premiered there & it truly one of the best festivals in the world. If there’s anything I can do to help promote & get your work out there pls let me know.— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) March 7, 2020
Think about the SXSW cancellation … that’s a ton of lost hours and lost tips.
These are going to be liquidity constrained people who’ll have to pull back spending.
And it’s gonna be service & hospitality workers in every world city.
Big name artists will be fine with the SXSW cancellation. It's independent artists who'll feel it most. You can support by:
-Actively look for new artists
-Follow & subscribe
-Post about their work on your social media
-Buy their merch & music
-Comment on & share their posts
Some, like Alamo Drafthouse, promised to help:
Attendees, volunteers, filmmakers, workers, colleagues - we love you. We've got a lot to do right now - hang tight. #SXSW pic.twitter.com/7Ofah1ZKV4— Alamo Drafthouse ATX (@drafthouse) March 6, 2020
A few people offered up alternative events post-cancellation, or pondered about a return to the fest’s original independent roots:
Hey since they are canceling SXSW everyone is actually welcome to come over to my house if you want?? I was gonna watch “Ghosts or Girlfriends Past”— Patti Harrison (@Party_Harderson) March 7, 2020
Hillary Clinton is looking for house shows in lieu of SXSW being cancelled— Ryley walker (@ryleywalker) March 6, 2020
Honestly this may be the best #SXSW ever if it’s reduced unofficial, underground events, organized by and for locals — in the spirit of Austin.
We’re fatigued by corporate/tech takeovers, but let’s be sure to support local businesses who model their annual revenue around SXSW.
why dont we take all of the #SXSW shows and push them somewhere else?!! pic.twitter.com/DyCQKWWABR— Sir Manly Lil Legs (@apricrotchglaze) March 6, 2020
Change of plans. WE will host SXSW. Elon Musk is on his way to speak on the advances in getting A.I. stoned, Elliot-Smith (83 weeks) is presenting her new podcast about mustaches, Facebook is discussing the ethics of deepfaking deceased loved ones and it’s all one big panel #sxsw— Los Feliz Daycare (@LosFelizDaycare) March 6, 2020
Others wondered what such a major cancellation could mean for other upcoming events:
SXSW got canceled and you KNOW Coachella is next— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) March 6, 2020
Visit austin360.com/sxsw for coverage of South by Southwest’s cancellation develops, and visit statesman.com/topics/coronavirus for continued coverage on COVID-19.
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