South by Southwest, which is one of music's biggest and more important events of the year has been cancelled, with Austin, TX civic officials and organizers citing worries about the spread of the coronavirus.
The announcement that the 2020 edition of SXSW would not be going ahead was made at a press conference in Austin. SXSW then confirmed it with a tweet that stated the following.
"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 24 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 states that “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer." However this situation evolved rapidly, and we honour and respect the City of Austin’s decision. We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites."
SXSW was to take place between March 13 and 22. Starting out a grassroots festival in 1986 as a showcase for local music, the original event drew around 700 attendees. In the decades that have followed it's mushroomed into a brand with a global reach, attracting those from the music, film, tech, and fashion. Over the years, positive festival buzz has helped launch the careers of acts ranging from the Artic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand to Rico Nasty and Lil Yachty.
In cancelling South by Southwest, officials cited the volume of people who'd be arriving on planes from around the world, and the difficulties of screening them to make sure they didn't have COVID-19 symptoms. Acts that were to play the festival included bands from countries where the coronavirus has had major outbreaks. Included in that list would have been Italian acts like Wow, YUMAN, and Heir.
So far there has been no announcement as to whether bands will be able to recoup the costs associated with securing spots at SXSW. Similarly, there has been no word on refunds for festival passes for the general public.