As fears surrounding the spread of COVID-19 continue to increase, we are beginning to see the impact of the crisis on virtually all sectors of economic, political, and social life. Countless national events have been canceled or postponed until further notice to combat and contain coronavirus. An article published by CNN on Friday reported that South by Southwest is now among one of the latest cancelations as other large-scale future events await their fate.
SXSW Austin’s annual tech, film, and music conference was officially canceled last Friday due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. This decision came just two days after Autin public health officials announced that the annual event would continue as planned despite several high-profile dropouts and public demand to cancel the event. Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler declared a local disaster that effectively canceled the event, which was scheduled to take place March 13th-22nd. This marks the first time in 34 years that the event has been canceled. In a statement released by SXSW organizers, they explained, “We are devastated to share this news with you. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.” Organizers have not yet ruled out the possibility of rescheduling and are working to develop an online alternative. Further information is said to be shared with prospective attendees in the coming days.
Many, however, were not surprised by the decision to cancel as many of the event’s biggest names, including Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and Vevo, pulled out just days before the cancelation. Twitter was the first major company to pull out followed soon after by Facebook, Intel, Vevo, and Mashable. TikTok later came to the same decision, promising to explore “alternative ways” to bring content to prospective audiences. Following the dropouts, organizers announced new keynote speakers, including Hilary Clinton and Andrew Yang. Organizers ensured the public that they were working with local, state, and federal agencies to ensure the event would go safely, despite existing circumstances. Each year, the conference draws thousands of visitors to the city of Austin. According to reports, last year, the event generated approximately $355.9 million for the local economy. Many local businesses are concerned about the potential repercussions of the event’s cancellations, particularly for the local economy.